Redmond Negotiator

Survey Says...

Scott reveals the results of our recent reader licensing survey and answers several reader questions.

Do you remember the old "Family Feud" game show? (Yes, I know it's back on the air with the guy from "Home Improvement" as host.) What a great show -- each episode is a college-level course in American demographics and preferences.

Well, over the past few months, we've been taking a "master-level" course in what you, Dear Redmond Reader, want and need from us, Microsoft and this column. So I thank you for responding, and I also want to congratulate our contest winners.

Here are the folks who were randomly picked to win Redmond T-shirts:

  • Stefanie Whaley, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Maria W.
  • Scott Shockley, Bethesda, Md.
  • Steven Fishman, Corona, Calif.
  • Stephen Moraes

We also had one grand-prize winner, Tim, who won an hour of consulting time with me.

Thank you again to everyone who responded! Let's delve into the results of the survey, starting first with a few statistics on who you are, followed by some of your specific Microsoft licensing questions.

How many PCs and Windows-based servers are in your total organization?

1 - 249 37.8%
250 - 499 5.4%
500 - 2,399 21.6%
2,400 - 5,999 8.1%
6,000+ 24.3%
N/A 2.8%

What's your role in dealing with Microsoft licensing?

I'm the purchasing/procurement person. 23.5%
I'm the senior IT approver. 5.9%
I'm the IT manager in charge. 23.5%
I'm a user/customer involved as influencer. 23.5%
I'm a vendor/consultant. 5.9%
Other 17.7%

What are some of your burning questions about Microsoft licensing?

Question: We are in a merger process. My company has an Enterprise agreement that it cannot leave until it expires, but the company we are merging with doesn't have an agreement in place. How can we maximize the value of any licenses the second company already has (e.g., Exchange CALs, etc) while trying to get them onto the EA and procure items like Desktop Pro licenses for as little money (and spread payments) as possible?

Great question. The answer boils down to this: Get proof of the licenses the other company already owns. Its reseller(s) and Microsoft will help with that but it won't be easy, quick or simple. You then have a number of options to bring the acquired company into the fold:

  1. You can open negotiations for an entirely new Agreement, based on your new counts and needs.
  2. Under your existing EA, you can simply true-up the new counts.
  3. You can agree with Microsoft to continue licensing the two entities separately until a more convenient time to merge them comes.

Which one to choose? My bias is for Option 1, but you should go into it understanding that it will require significant time and effort. The easiest but most expensive solution is Option 2, while Option 3 would be the compromise position that nobody likes completely.

Question: When, if ever, will MS treat its customers with decency?

Yeah, well, that's an "eye of the beholder" situation. Many customers are very happy with Microsoft -- roughly half of the survey respondents said that they were.

Question: Does Microsoft have an analyzer tool that I can run that will just tell me what I need?

Microsoft's answer would be yes -- in fact, it offers an array of tools and services, such as the Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer and a bunch of related resources offered by Microsoft and its partners here. And don't forget good old SMS, now renamed "System Center Configuration Manager 2007," which offers inventory services.

Microsoft and its resellers will also be delighted to "tell you what you need" in a variety of ways. For example, the Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor will guide you through a Q&A and make specific licensing recommendations. Microsoft has also announced a new tool for partners called "LicenseWise" that's designed to help your reseller walk you through licensing decisions.

But use these tools and services with caution. Should you fully rely on the vendor to keep your best interests at heart?

Next month: More answers to your questions, including the ever-popular "Why do license terms keep changing?"

'Til then, keep up the good work.

About the Author

Scott Braden has helped more than 600 companies negotiate Microsoft volume license deals. For a free case study, "How a Mid-size Company Saved over $870,000 on a $3 million Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, in Less Than Three Weeks," visit


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