Microsoft Corp., which has been trying to repair its relationship with customers who are facing higher software costs for refusing to upgrade to its Licensing 6 plan, has hit them with another licensing change.
The Redmond, Wash., software maker last week announced licensing changes to the upcoming Windows .Net Server 2003 family, due for release in April, that will require a TS CAL (Terminal Server Client Access License) for all client devices that access the server, regardless of which Windows version is used.
This is a shift from the previous situation, in which users deploying both Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 on the client and server were automatically granted user access rights to Terminal Services at no cost.
Microsoft customers said charging for each Windows client to access Terminal Server in .Net Server 2003 appears to be another attempt to push customers not yet running Windows XP to upgrade.
To encourage users to upgrade, Microsoft is offering a free Windows .Net Server 2003 TS CAL if they already have Windows XP Professional, have their Windows desktop under an Enterprise Agreement or Software Assurance plan, or buy Windows XP Pro before the server is available.
Those who do not upgrade but still want or need to use the Terminal Server functionality will then have to pay for this access. Microsoft officials would not say what the move will cost customers.
This licensing change follows Microsofts controversial Licensing 6 program, which took effect in August. Customers had to sign up for two- or three-year Software Assurance maintenance contracts, which allowed them to receive all applicable product upgrades over that period. Those who refused to sign on will have to pay the full price for future upgrades.
Microsoft has admitted that the changes were poorly handled and that small and medium-size companies had been hit with price increases.
Research company Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn., estimates that the program hiked fees for many businesses by 33 to 107 percent. An analyst, Laura DiDio at The Yankee Group, in Boston, estimated that as many as two-thirds of Microsoft customers did not sign up for Licensing 6.
Microsoft defended the latest move last week. Bob OBrien, group product manager for Windows .Net Server, told eWeek the plans are in the best interests of customers because they simplify Terminal Server licensing.
Many customers disagree. Jack Beckman, manager of application programming at Service Centers Corp., in Southfield, Mich., said his company is unhappy about getting pressured into Microsofts latest licensing plan earlier this year.
"This just seems like another twist of the knife," Beckman said. "I dont see how this simplifies anything.
Well probably ... not deploy .Net Server," he said. "We are just in the process of upgrading many of our servers to Windows 2000 from [Windows] NT 4, and I dont think anyone will be real keen on another round of upgrades so soon after."
Others simply want to move away from Microsoft products. Jim Lambright, MIS manager for Roth Manufacturing Corp., in New London, Ohio, has a large group of computers that need Terminal Services to access its finance/project software in another state. "I really dont like the current TS," Lambright said. "Its kind of cranky at times and, in our case, dirt slow."