Microsoft Offers Small Business Package with a Partner Twist

Microsoft on Monday unveiled two new financial incentives designed to get U.S. small businesses more deeply invested in Microsoft infrastructure -- while helping partners in the process.

Microsoft has created a Small Business SKU within the Open Value licensing program. The SKU combines a Windows XP upgrade, Office 2003 Small Business Edition and a Client Access License (CAL) for Windows Small Business Server 2003 for $922. The price represents a discount of 28 percent versus buying the products separately under the Open Value licensing program, says Cindy Bates, general manager of U.S. small business for Microsoft.

The offer includes up to three years of Software Assurance benefits, which will cover upgrades to Windows Vista and Microsoft Office "12" when those products ship. Vista and Office 12 are scheduled for availability in late 2006.

Microsoft is also offering an incentive for small businesses to employ the services of Microsoft partners under a program called the Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 IT Services Promotion. Under the promotion, Microsoft will send customers who buy Office and SBS a check, made out to a Microsoft partner, good for services from that partner. Covered services include installation, deployment, risk and security assessments, and end-user training.

The greatest subsidy goes to customers that buy at least one SBS license and five Office licenses together under an Open Value deal. Such customers will get a discount of $125 on each copy of SBS and Office, plus $30 off the client access license (CAL), Bates says. The Office and CAL discounts come to $155 per desktop, she notes, adding that the maximum discount per customer is $10,000. Customers that buy separately get a discount of $100 off SBS and $100 off each copy when they buy at least five copies of Office.

"I think it's going to be a huge benefit to the customer," says Laura Spruill, an account manager with Technology Associates, a computer consulting firm in Cary, N.C., of the services subsidies. "A lot of times small businesses don't have the funds for an outside consulting company. This helps them get their network set up right and updated properly."

Bates also mentioned that the new, streamlined Open Value licensing process that Microsoft was talking up at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July has now taken effect, reducing the ordering process "from days to minutes."

Spruill says the combination of Open Value and the new small business SKU should be a boon for small businesses."It will allow them to track licenses better and spread payments over three years," she notes.

Details on the partner services promotion are available at

Additional reporting by Paul Desmond

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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