Feeds

Microsoft streamlines licensing

Pay the same, just know why you're paying

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Microsoft is making its notoriously complex system of licensing easier to understand. But it is stopping short of changes that could cut software costs.

On July 1, the company will introduce changes which should make pricing terms easier for customers to fathom. They are specifically designed to ease the administrative burden for enterprise customers under its volume licensing programs.

"Licensing was too complex and confusing... we had to drill down and find out where the confusion and difficulty was," Sunny Charlebois, product manger for worldwide licensing, told The Register.

"I still think we have work to do to continue to simplify licensing... it's important to try to find the pieces we need to simplify."

She did not, though, indicate if Microsoft will also change the way it charges for software or if it plans to update Software Assurance (SA). According to some analysts SA pushes up customers' software costs, but Microsoft has always argued that SA helps customers save money.

The news Ts&Cs are welcomed by at least one Microsoft watcher, Paul deGroot, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. Changes to language and a new categorization of products make things much easier for customers, he said: "It's easier to read, it's easier to understand and a lot more accessible to people."

"This goes back to one of the most critical problems with Microsoft licensing - it's so damn complex. It was so complex, that Microsoft in the field couldn't understand the licensing in many cases. It's been like calling for an airline ticket, where you keep calling until you get the best price. You just kept calling until someone says 'Yes, you can do this'."

Microsoft's Product Use Rights (PUR) document, which - as the name implies - specifies the conditions under which Microsoft products can be used, has been streamlined from 104 pages to 44 by reducing legalese and repetition. The complexity of PUR has been made worse by the fact that it is updated each quarter to reflect a barrage of new products and stock keeping units (SKUs) of existing products. Again, Microsoft has not indicated if it plans to change this.

"If you were a big company, you needed one of your lawyers to spend a day or week each quarter to look through [the PUR] to see what happened because the PUR was updated each quarter," DeGroot said.

Microsoft has also categorized its portfolio of 70 products into nine groups in the PUR, with products categorized according to specific terms. The move reduces so-called exceptions - use clauses that that are unique to specific products licensing.

DeGroot said, for example, that SQL Server customers are allowed to run a back-up copy of the server without a license - unlike users of Exchange Server, who must license the fail-over edition of their server. So customers running SQL Server who then set-up Exchange Server thought they were OK, but risked licensing violations because the products' use rights were unclear.

Charlebois promised Microsoft would keep exceptions to a "minimum" in the future, although she added "we need to be able to have flexible licensing terms."

The nine categories group products into servers that are charged on: a per processor basis; a server/client access license (CAL) basis; server operating system basis; specialist servers; desktop operating system basis; management servers; desktop applications; developer tools; and online services. ®

Related stories

MS tweaks volume licensing
Microsoft SA - reasons to comply
Windows licensing - don't swallow it, says MS

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.