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Microsoft To Decrease Prices on Windows Server SPLAs

Microsoft plans to decrease the pricing of its Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) offerings for Windows Server 2008 R2, starting next year.

On Jan. 1, SPLA pricing for all Windows Server 2008 R2 editions, except for one, will decrease by 21 percent. The reason for the price reduction is "to better align SPLA prices with subscription prices," according to a Microsoft blog.

Microsoft's practice is to bill its hosting partners for SPLA licensing on a monthly basis, which helps hosting providers deal with shifts (or "churn") in their subscriber base. SPLA licensees typically include managed service providers and hosting partners. Microsoft typically adjusts its SPLA pricing every year.

The one exception to this price decrease in 2011 will be the SPLA cost of the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition, which will increase 30 percent over the current year's price.

Microsoft's blog makes the argument that the current 2010 price for the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter SPLA is "a limited promotional price" that is half the cost of the original price. So, the 30 percent increase over this discounted price actually represents a lowered price, according to Microsoft's logic.

Microsoft also contends that the server core capacity in Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition has doubled since the product's launch. Consequently, SPLA customers using that edition now get an increase in performance.

In July of 2009, Microsoft opened up its SPLA somewhat, allowing small-to-medium organizations to provide hosting services using a new "SPLA Essentials" offering. It's not clear from Microsoft's blog if the SPLA Essentials pricing will decrease in 2011 too. Microsoft also changed the SPLA contract language in July 2009 to describe "outsourcing" and "non-outsourcing" permissions under the license. What Microsoft considers to be "outsourcing" may be subject to interpretation, according to this blog. Another beneficial change was the ability of SPLA licensees to use older Microsoft software versions, rather than just the current version.

Those details, and more, are described in a July Microsoft white paper, "Windows Server SPLA Licensing and Prior Version Rights," which can be downloaded here. Microsoft also has SPLA licensing details located on its partner page here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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