Interesting. Not true, but interesting.

I don’t usually step up to defend Microsoft. I don’t usually bash Microsoft either. I try to basically stay out of those arguments. But when an article comes along trying to use the new licensing program as a way to bash Microsoft by not telling the truth, I have to say something. I have to say something because I’ve taken the time to learn about the licensing program and talk to some of the MS people about it, and these statements are just not completely accurate:

“According to Gartner research from May 2001, released soon after Microsoft first detailed its Software Assurance plan, some enterprise customers who typically upgrade their Microsoft Office software every four years would pay an estimated 68 percent to 107 percent more if they switched from their current upgrade licensing plan to Software Assurance. “

That is accurate, but the people I talked to, even the sales people at MS told me if we planned on doing it that way we’d be better off not using Software Assurance, that we’d spend less money by skipping upgrades and buying the latest version at the full price when/if we were ready to upgrade again. They were much more interested in making sure we had something that works for us than they were in trying to force us to sign up for SA, because it didn’t make sense to if you only upgrade every 5 years, like we have.

“People will find themselves in a quandary. They will have to upgrade before they are ready, and that will cause some problems,” said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of systems software research at IDC.

No, not really, once an upgrade is released that you’re eligible for, you have rights to that version forever. There’s no rule that says you have to upgrade to that version right then and there. But you do have the licensing rights for that version for whenever you do want to upgrade, and you have rights to run any previous version in the meantime.

Dean Sheley, network administrator of Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said the school recently made the switch to Office XP and is already planning for its server migration to Windows .Net when it is release later this year.

As an academic institution, Southeast Technical gets deeper discounts from Microsoft than most enterprise customers. Nevertheless, Sheley described Microsoft’s licensing system as “a pain,” and said he has considered replacing some Microsoft software with alternatives such as Linux.

The funny thing here is, this is exactly the sort of place that benefits from SA, but they don’t even see it. I mean really, if you’re going to be making every upgrade, isn’t it easier to know you’re going to pay XX amount every year and have every upgrade than it is to budget for upgrades only after they come out?

No it’s not for everyone, but, at least the people I’ve talked to recognize that and are more than happy to tell you not to sign up for it if it doesn’t make sense for you. If you’re going to critique it, complain about the fact that outside of SA you’re paying full price for upgrades, there is no upgrade pricing anymore. (There really isn’t upgrade pricing within SA either, your “discount” really depends on how often MS upgrades.) That’s an accurate critique, but the article doesn’t talk about that, instead it talks about how MS is forcing everyone to sign up, even when it’s going to cost more, and that just isn’t true in my experience. How about, instead of interviewing people who obviously haven’t studied the program, you interview people who understand it and have legitimate complaints? Wouldn’t that be novel?

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