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Microsoft Loosening Licensing a Bit

If you caught the results of RCP the magazine's reader survey in our December issue, then you know that one of the few things partners don't like about working with Microsoft is Redmond's rarely simple, sometimes arcane licensing policies. In our survey, more than 60 percent of you said that Microsoft's licensing procedures make its products difficult to sell.

Given that the respondents to our survey make at least part -- and, in most cases, probably a large part -- of their living selling Microsoft's wares, licensing issues and the hassles associated with them are a big deal. Well, late last week, Microsoft eased partners' pain a little bit with some loosening of its licensing procedures.

Of primary interest to partners will be Microsoft's Open Value Subscription Program, through which partners will be able to offer customers subscriptions -- which will function almost like a lease -- for Microsoft applications. (We're projecting to the future here because OVSP will be available in March.)

A company interested in Microsoft's stuff will be able to pay for it -- through a partner, naturally -- on an annual-subscription basis rather than having to fork over the money for it all at once and up front. At the end of the year, the company will have the option of canceling the subscription, renewing it or just buying the licenses outright.

The OVSP won't really ease the headaches caused by Microsoft's complex licensing policies, but it will give partners a less-expensive and perhaps more manageable option to offer to those customers that are reticent about paying the -- let's face it -- high price to invest in Microsoft applications. It won't necessarily make the purchase of Microsoft products cheaper, either, but it will make it more flexible -- and flexibility is almost always a good thing for both partners and customers.

Of secondary interest, we're guessing, to partners is the loosening of licensing restrictions on Windows Web Server 2008 (which, we must confess, some "other" channel publication first reported on last week). Redmond is making Web Server 2008 -- a Windows Server 2008 SKU...what, you haven't heard of it? -- easier to license in order to make it more competitive with open-source competition.

Whatever Microsoft can do to make licensing easier and more flexible seems to RCPU like good idea, so we're chalking this up as good news to start 2008. Now, if Microsoft can just get its server bonanza launched without any (more) delays...

How interested will your clients be in a subscription model from Microsoft? How interested are you? Let me know at

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/08/2008 at 1:21 PM


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