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Upgrade your MS apps before 1 October – Gartner

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Businesses are being urged to upgrade Microsoft software by 30 September because MS is ditching its most widely used upgrade path on 1 October 2001.

The call to upgrade comes from industry analysts Gartner as a response to changes in licenses that Microsoft announced in May 2001 coming into effect on 1 October. On that date, Version Upgrades, Product Upgrades, Competitive Upgrades and Language Upgrades will no longer be available. But Microsoft has extended the date for purchasing the Upgrade Advantage (UA) maintenance offering until 28 February 2002.

To get the max future upgrade cover period, enterprises requiring UA are advised to end their Open Authorization or Select Agreements and enter into new version 5 UA agreements before 30 September.

Gartner says that although UA is nominally a two-year deal, it actually runs concurrently with the Select or Open contract terms. "Enterprises with agreements signed in 2000, may purchase UA up to February 2002, but they will pay for two years and get coverage for only seven months (i.e., the remainder of the contract term)," says the analysts report.

But it gets worse. "In addition, they will then have to sign a Select v.6 agreement earlier than they could have and enroll the licenses into Software Assurance. To get an extra year of Software Assurance, these enterprises will pay 29 percent of the license fee per year for desktop applications and 25 percent for server products. For example, for Microsoft Office Standard at current Select "B" estimated retail pricing ($349), an enterprise with 5,000 desktops would pay a fee of more $500,000. It could save that cost by simply terminating their contracts and re-entering new v.5 agreements before 30 September."

Enterprises whose Select v.4 or v.5 contracts expire between 1 October 2001 and 28 February 2002 need to be on the ball, and make sure they can repurchase UA. Even though Microsoft has extended the deadline for buying UA until 28 February 2002, it is making the new v.6 Open and Select licensing programs become available on 1 October 2001. Gartner thinks it's doubtful that Microsoft will let anyone buy a v.5 or earlier agreement once they've introduced v.6 - and you can only buy UA under a Select or Open v.5 or earlier agreement.

If these enterprises missed the boat Gartner envisages this: "They would likely have to repurchase the license to get the most current version, and then buy Software Assurance to stay current (at 25 percent to 29 percent of the license fee annually). Thus, Select level "B" customers would pay a relicense cost of $349 for each copy of Microsoft Office Standard plus a maintenance cost of $101.21 annually." ®

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