Microsoft Beefs Up Software Assurance

Microsoft this week rolled out enhancements to its software assurance annuity-licensing program.

Microsoft this week rolled out enhancements to its Software Assurance annuity-licensing program. Microsoft announced the planned changes to the SA program in September.

The changes include new planning, deployment, migration and legacy services designed for volume licensees. Two of the new benefits—new Windows releases—are exclusive to Software Assurance customers and aimed at midsize and large enterprises. The two releases are the Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs "lean client," due to ship in May, and the Windows Vista Enterprise version, expected in November, when the full Vista family is expected to ship.

Formerly code-named Eiger, Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs is based on Windows XP. It is "designed to be a bridge solution" for getting the most out of older functioning Windows systems for customers that want more security but that arent ready or able to upgrade to Windows XP, officials said.

Windows Vista Enterprise, one of the six core Windows Vista SKUs, will include all the features of Windows Vista Business, plus Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption; Virtual PC Express virtual machine support; the Subsystem for Unix-based Applications, or SUA, which is designed to allow Unix applications to run on Vista machines; and access to all worldwide languages supported by Vista via a single deployment image.

Another new benefit of the SA program is Desktop Deployment Planning Services. These services take the form of a one- to 10-day organizational and "business value" planning session between customers and either Microsoft Certified Partners or Microsoft Consulting Services.

For SMBs (small and midsize businesses), as part of SA, Microsoft is now offering Microsoft Information Work Solution Services, which are prepackaged consulting engagement services delivered by Microsoft Certified Partners. Microsoft also is offering a new automated Windows Preinstallation Environment tool that includes enhanced 24/7 problem resolution support, with subscriptions to TechNet Plus and newsgroups, error reporting, and cold backups for disaster recovery.