Microsoft is looking to drive end-user discounts through its channel in an attempt to boost uptake of its server software and latest Office incarnation. The promotion is its latest attempt to get users to abandon NT 4.0.
The software giant is offering resellers that register for the promotion a 10 per cent discount on its Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003 and Operations Manager Workgroup Server 2005.
These dealers can also offer customers a 15 per cent discount on Office 2003 Professional if they purchase 5-200 licenses through Open License or Open License Value. Both offers close at the end of May.
Open License Value customers are also being offered five support calls for software purchases until the end of June.
Microsoft has direct-mailed promotional material to thousands of end-users in order to drive the campaign.
While there is no direct reward for channel partners that signed up, those taking part have been using it as a hook to secure services contracts.
Microsoft's product manager for Windows Server, David Allinson, said registered partners received capability tool kits, evaluation software and licenses as well as rebates of $300 for every Windows Server 2003 sale and $150 for Small Business Server. He claimed about 300 resellers had signed up for the promotion.
"It's doing us a favour by drumming up business," business manager at GPKnet, Mark Jackson, said.
"Microsoft has the marketing budget to get the word out there and users have to buy through the channel."
But some resellers contacted by ARN said they had seen little business as a result of the promotion. They would prefer lower pricing or more tangible benefits.
"I have a good relationship with Microsoft but I get frustrated with these promotions," purchasing and sales manager at Bendigo IT, John Spark, said.
"I would prefer to see lower prices or some real value-add.
"There are lots of Windows NT systems still out there but we haven't really seen much business out of this offer - I suppose every little helps."
National professional services manager at Getronics, Brett Lightfoot, said the promotion gave customers an incentive to purchase now rather than later but said it was not a new business driver.
"We very rarely get new leads out of this sort of promotion but it does help close deals that are open," he said.
"We have closed a couple of deals that included this offer but we would have closed them anyway."
Clariti CEO, Bruce McCurdy, said it was a strange sort of promotion but his company was using it in a similar way to Getronics.
"We are a services company and product is not our lead in a deal," he said.
"But if we are in a tender process or a competitive situation, and we are able to offer a 10 per cent price break to a potential customer, we can maintain our normal margin and pick up the deal.
"We normally pass promotions on to customers anyway because it builds customer loyalty. People come back if they know you are doing the right thing by them."
While 26 per cent of Microsoft server products were still NT 4.0 last year, Allinson said this had now been reduced to 16 per cent.
Application servers were proving the most difficult to migrate from the old platform.
"If customers want to move to a later platform it can mean reinvesting in hardware," he said. "So we have provided a tool kit that lets resellers and users test an application to see if it can move to Windows Server 2000 or 2003.
"If it's not going to work then we can provide a 12-month license for virtual server so they can see the benefits."