Microsoft Makes Changes to Licensing Plan

Enhancements to its Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance plan include free training, support and the right to use Microsoft Office on customers' home computers.

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced enhancements to its Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance plan, implemented last year.

The enhancements, which eWEEK first reported were under consideration last November, will be provided to existing Software Assurance customers and all those who sign up going forward. They will include free training, support and the right to use Microsoft Office on customers home computers.

Rebecca LaBrunerie, Microsofts product manager for worldwide licensing and pricing, told eWEEK that the enhancements will be made available to all Software Assurance customers Sept. 1.

"As you know, we learned a big lesson from Licensing 6.0 about effectively communicating with our customers and making sure everyone was well-informed. We will be giving our channel partners very extensive training over the next few months and also training our own sales force so that when we make the enhancements available on Sept. 1, customers will find a very well-informed sales force," she said.

Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, have admitted that the changes contained in Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance were poorly conveyed to customers by the companys own sales and support teams.

That resulted in much customer anger, especially among those who felt they were being strong-armed into signing up for the scheme without adequate time to evaluate the price and other implications for their businesses.

While Microsoft initially introduced its Software Assurance program in May 2001, it delayed its implementation for more than a year to give customers a chance to prepare for the new model, which essentially involves having customers pay an annual fee for future software upgrades.

The latest Microsoft licensing moves, LaBrunerie said, follow the Redmond, Wash., companys interactions with some 2,500 customers over the past 10 months to hear their concerns.