The enhancements were an effort by Microsoft to reconnect with those customers and show them that it has responded to their concerns, she said. Free training is one of the areas Microsoft is adding to its Software Assurance offering, she said, noting that there are several offerings in this regard. Customers will get the e-learning online training module of Microsofts different products as well as vouchers that will allow them to get free classroom training from Microsofts Certified Technical Education Centers to be trained for certification in running Microsoft products.Customers also asked for additional technical support for Microsofts server products. While this is broken down according to whether customers have the standard or enterprise version of the software and depends on the licensing program under which the software was bought, it essentially ranges from free Web-based technical support during business hours to unlimited free phone support anytime. "All Software Assurance customers will also get free licenses for our TechNet product, which costs about $1,000 a user on average today, either online or under our CD subscription program," LaBrunerie said.
"Depending on how many licenses a customer buys and under which program, the benefits scale. So, the largest customer under an Enterprise Agreement could get up to 150 single-day training vouchers for the life of their contract, to be used by as they like," LaBrunerie said. "A smaller customer might get three or four. In general, the more Software Assurance you buy from us, the more benefits we will provide you. The customers we have spoken to really feel this benefit adds value, as the first thing they cut in a tight economy is training."