FRAMINGHAM, 14 JULY 2010 - As if Microsoft software licensing schemes weren't complex enough, the brain trust in Redmond has cooked up changes to keep up with growing trends such as mobility and virtualization.
Before CIOs can decide on, say, a three-year Enterprise Agreement or a flexible, pay-as-you-go Select Agreement, they'll need to know how recent changes made to Microsoft's licensing and pricing schemes impacts them. Microsoft's changes also throw a spotlight on whether or not Software Assurance is in your best interest.
Although many of the changes are favorable to customers, there are some hidden twists and turns that could lead IT buyers astray if they are not careful, according to a recent report by Forrester Research.
Some of the changes that could have serious implications for IT departments, according to Forrester, range from price increases and repackaging for Office to changes to the rules on remote access and virtualized desktops to upcoming retirement of the Select License program. There's also the elimination of the SA (Software Assurance) renewal grace period that throws a monkey wrench into a CIO's timetable for negotiations.
Microsoft's changes also don't go far enough to address concerns that Forrester is hearing from hundreds of IT buyers about the mismatch between the cost and value of Office upgrades and the licensing complexity of desktop virtualization, writes Forrester analysts Duncan Jones and Christopher Voce.
Taking on the role of consumer advocate, Forrester lays out five licensing and pricing changes that IT buyers should focus on and try to leverage.
Office Pro Plus Got a Five Percent Price Increase Starting May 1, 2010
New volume licensing customers pay five percent more for Office 2010 than they did for Office 2007, starting May 1, 2010. Companies with SA licenses get the upgrade for free.
This means it's a good time to weigh the pros and cons of SA for Office purchases. Forrester's research indicates that many companies (60 per cent in a recent survey) are satisfied with older versions of Office and are not planning to upgrade to Office 2010. The real draw of Software Assurance is upgrade rights, so why have it for Office if you're not upgrading?
Then again, SA does provide benefits other than upgrade rights, such as training and customer support and some flexibility when deploying virtualization technologies. "Companies have to figure out if these benefits are worth the cost," says Forrester analyst Chris Voce.
Forrester's Advice: Question the Value of Upgrade Rights and How it Complicates Office SA Decisions
For many Forrester clients, SA on Office is too expensive. Buyers considering renewing an EA (Enterprise Agreement) or adding SA to an Office 2010 purchase will struggle to see the value in Office upgrade rights when they don't know what the next version will contain or when they will want to move to it.
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