Microsoft Mulls Price Layers

Microsoft customers who upgrade to Windows Server 2003 could end up paying more than expected due to a host of layered add-on services.

Microsoft Corp. customers who upgrade to Windows Server 2003 could end up paying more than expected due to a host of layered add-on services scheduled to ship over the next six to nine months.

While the Redmond, Wash., software developer is remaining tight-lipped, sources said the company is considering charging users for a handful of add-on services that would be released after the initial launch of the product this week in San Francisco. Forthcoming services, they said, include the companys RTC (Real-Time Communications) Server, Active Directory Application Mode and Windows Rights Management, among others.

According to Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of the Windows Server group, Microsoft is committed to providing "logical, economically approachable solutions."

"We want to provide developers programmatic access to the [Session Initiation Protocol] stack as thats what they want on the platform, and I want to deliver that as part of the new platform," Veghte said in an interview last week with eWeek (see Face to Face). "Thats what Microsoft feels you should get for free, and we want to make that available to them this year. But there are no announcements at this time about how we think above that."

Some of Microsofts largest enterprise customers, such as Lockheed Martin Enterprise Information Systems, in Orlando, Fla., dont like the idea of paying extra for add-on technologies.

Massimo Villinger, chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin, said the company, which has a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft for its hundreds of servers and some 165,000 desktops, wanted to maximize its licensing benefits and minimize its licensing costs.

"We expect not to be paying a lot more for these technologies unless there are significant capabilities there. The architectural aspects of RTC are still evolving, and Microsoft has not told us they intend to charge for the product ... but you can be sure we will negotiate very hard with them around this," Villinger said.