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Savage discounts and easy payment terms available on Microsoft software, should you look like you're about to jump ship for Open Source? We all know that this kind of thing happens, but from what a Yankee Group analyst has been telling Newsfactor, this semi-ad hoc procedure has been formalised as part of a new 'Open Value' licensing programme, to be launched next year.

It works like this, according to Yankee Group's Laura DiDio. If a Microsoft sales rep gets the impression that "there's a real threat of some pretty large numbers of defections to open source," they call control in order to get discount authorisation, and this can be up to 50 per cent.

That in itself is not particularly new, but it may well be that the procedure will be more extensively used as Microsoft kicks off a counter-attack against open source incursions, defections and general disaffection caused by Licensing 6. The company, even Steve Ballmer, now concedes that it might just have goofed with its new licensing procedure whereby (we precis, of course) you pay Microsoft a king's ransom upfront in order to get yourself locked into the company's favoured bracing upgrade cycle for free.

Never mind, it was a very lucrative goof, and we've got the money now. But Microsoft hasn't got the money from people who didn't buy in at the time, and while Licensing 6 was effective in recruiting (grumbling hard) major customers who were already locked in, it's a serious cost hurdle for outfits insufficiently locked, those who still have some kind of choice.

Small businesses in particular will tend to fall into this category, both because they usually don't have that much to rip and replace, and because Microsoft has historically been weak in that sector; and open source is just about the only rival game in town.

Open Value will therefore allow them to spread the payment for Licensing 6 over three years, and zero per cent finance is being offered in one of those handy limited-time buy-now-or-regret-it schemes Microsoft likes so much.

According to Newsfactor Microsoft seems to be particularly concerned about Lindows, which will no doubt come as a surprise to all the distro snobs who hang around The Register. But when you think about it, maybe it's not so weird. While Red Hat and SuSE both have products aimed at, and ambitions for, the Windows replacement market, Lindows is probably the one embittered office managers are most likely to trip over when trudging disconsolately round Walmart or similar. ®

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