Microsoft is working on a new reparations strategy, known internally as a customer incentive program, for those customers with volume licensing programs who will be negatively affected by the delay in the release of Windows Vista and Office 2007.
Most enterprises buy volume licensing agreements from Microsoft, along with Software Assurance, which guarantees them the rights to all upgrades for any product covered by the agreement while it is in force.
But even if Microsoft sticks to its current timetable for the delivery of Vista and Office 2007, the delays mean that some customers who bought Software Assurance and who would have qualified for those upgrades if they had shipped as originally expected will not get them before their contracts expire.
Microsoft recently started telling its hardware and software partners that its goal is to release Windows Vista and Office 2007 simultaneously in January.
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As such, the Redmond software maker is going to have to make amends through rebates, incentives and the like, to encourage those Software Assurance customers who have now ended up on the wrong side of the licensing tracks through no fault of their own to renew.
The new incentive program, designed to address any possible fallout from that, is still under development within Microsofts OEM group and not yet finalized, is expected to be rolled out sometime in the fall of 2006, a Microsoft spokesperson said to eWEEK, but declined to give any further details.
Microsoft also knows all too well the negative impact that can result from any change in licensing terms or in the value customers perceive they get from this.