Tweaks to Microsoft's volume licensing program will streamline administration for the channel and potentially boost customer satisfaction, according to partners.
Dimension Data general manager for licensing, David Gage, said the changes addressed specific customer concerns.
"The most common feedback that Microsoft gets from our customers in the channel is that people want to see reduced complexity," he said.
Gage said resellers wouldn't need to use as many different product codes and signatures and that could improve customer satisfaction. "That will definitely be well-received by users and my team," he said. "In the past, if you missed one of those signatures on the contract, it came back from the Asia-Pacific Operations Centre [APOC] and we'd have to start again."
Worse, he said, customers often couldn't understand the reason for multiple signatures in the first place.
Gage said that the changes had not been a huge surprise because Microsoft had been involving DiData in discussions for more than a year about what should happen. Ingram Micro national licensing manager, Angela Logan-Bell, said the changes weren't huge in relation to the overall volume licensing program. Fewer SKUs, though, should make life easier from an administration point-of-view.
"So it's positive," Logan-Bell said. "Although maybe they could have done it a little bit earlier." However, she said, it had probably taken Microsoft a long time to get to that point.
"You can imagine how many SKUs and the number of languages they had [to work with to finalise the product]," Logan-Bell said.
Express Data vendor channel manager, David Peach, said the changes related particularly to Microsoft Enterprise and Select Agreements, which were not a focus. Open agreements through distribution were refreshed every 18 months but to date no major changes would affect Express Data. Microsoft licensing manager, Thomas Kablau, said the aim was to improve customer licensing through simplification. The changes were based on customer and partner feedback, new technologies and customer business needs.
"Volume licensing agreements have been reduced in size by 50-85 per cent and customers can complete new volume licensing agreements with a single signature," he said.
Agreements had also been streamlined to improve navigation, including a table of contents, summary titles, and consistent language across agreements. Microsoft has also fiddled with its customer tools to make license management and software downloads easier, Kablau said.