Microsoft in the US will launch a program early next year aimed at easing the financial burden for small and medium companies that sign multi-year contracts to license its software.
Called Open Value, the licensing program will allow some customers to spread out software payments over a period of three years when purchasing products such as the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office. It is comparable to "zero-down" financing, a US Microsoft spokeswoman said.
The program is the North American flavour of Microsoft's European licensing scheme for SMEs, which is being gradually rolled out worldwide. Microsoft said Open Value will be available in the US in early 2003. Eligible customers are those with anywhere from five to 500 PCs. Australia will wait a little longer for a similar scheme to be implemented here.
The vendor has also announced a new channel model for the US in which distributors are made licence providers and billing agents, while VARs and direct resellers serve as licensing advisers, earning fees from Microsoft for influencing a purchasing decision.
According to Thomas Kablau, licensing marketing manager for Microsoft Australia, both the new SMB licensing option and the new channel roles will take effect in the US in March 2003, and similar changes will follow in Australia later in the year.
"There is no date set for the launch of a similar SMB licensing option or channel model in Australia, although Microsoft is currently researching the market to determine what model would best suit Australian customers," Kablau said.