SME licensing trial to get airing down under

SME licensing trial to get airing down under

Microsoft's special licensing schemes for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are currently only available in Europe, have been dubbed a success and will be introduced worldwide.

But it will be several months before the new options will be available in Australia, and even then they are likely to be highly localised offerings, according to Microsoft licensing manager Thomas Kablau.

"The pilot was run in EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] to gain a better knowledge before it was rolled out worldwide," he told ARN. "At the moment, all subsidiaries are reviewing all the data with a view to looking at how to implement those programs within the different geographies."

Europe is the only place where Microsoft customers with between two and 250 computers can choose to rent software or buy it, and spread payment out over three years, said Luc Van Ballaer, director of licensing and pricing for Microsoft in Europe. Elsewhere, the only option is Microsoft's standard Open License (OL), which requires upfront payment.

The two plans, called Open Subscription License (OSL) and Multi-Year Open (MYO), include Software Assurance (SA), which means all software upgrades released during the contract period are included.

Microsoft Australia will spend the next few months reviewing the data from the European trial and talking to customers before it decides how it will implement the new scheme. The software giant is unlikely to launch both plans simultaneously, preferring a staggered approach, which would have less impact on customers.

"The European program is very successful but their market is very different so you can't just cut and paste," Kablau said. "The data we are now getting is very clean and we are currently evaluating which offering would be suited to the market. We are very conscious of our partners and customers who have just gone through the changes of 6.0."

Microsoft introduced its OSL in Europe about a year and a half ago. Customers sign a three-year contract and pay a fee per year to rent the software. The licence is non-perpetual, which means customers have to stop using the software when the contract ends.

In September, Microsoft quietly added MYO, a perpetual form of licensing, which means the customer has the right to use the software indefinitely. This program also offers customers a three-year agreement with payment spread out over the period.

Windows XP Professional and Office XP Professional are available under OSL and MYO licences in Europe, as well as client access licences for Windows, Exchange, Systems Management Server and SharePoint Portal Server. Pricing is based on the number of computers and the products chosen.

At this stage, there is no specific timeframe for the introduction of the new schemes. "We have already begun surveying customers [about licensing] but we don't have any deadline as such," Kablau said. "We just want to make sure we have the right mix for the local market."

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