One of my biggest,Microsoft’s Licensing Model (sigh) Articles most important responsibilities in my day job is ensuring
that we have purchased all of the software licenses that we require. It’s
my job to ensure that we are 100% legal at all times – which fulfills one of
our corporate goals to be a completely ethical company.
Most companies make it very simply for me and my staff. If I want to license
Norton Antivirus, all I need to do is count the number of machines on which
the product is to be installed, write up a purchase order and call the
salesperson to order the product. It works the same with Conversion Plus,
Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, WinZIP and any of the other hundreds of
products that we require to keep our company in business.
You would think that Microsoft would want to make it easy for people like me
to give them money. I know that if I were in their shoes that’s what I would
I should stop for a minute and explain that I love many Microsoft products.
Windows 2000 (server and professional) are very solid, well-thought-out
operating systems, and the Office 2000 suite is easily the best in the
industry. Internet Explorer is far superior to Netscape and has been for
several years now, and Visio 2000 is one of the most versatile flowcharting
tools available anywhere.
Unfortunately, purchasing and licensing Microsoft products is nowhere near
as pleasurable as using their office suite. My god, they make it so
difficult to purchase licenses that I’ve often considered (especially
recently) switching the entire company to Unix and WordPerfect just to
simplify my life.
Okay, let’s take the Office suite of products. In a sane world, you would do
this one of three ways:
– You could just buy everything (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and so on)
– You could purchase the “base” kit, then purchase additional licenses for
the pieces that you needed. For example, spend $75 on the base, then add $40
for Word, and perhaps $10 for PowerPoint, and then don’t purchase Access.
This could all be done with a licensing key.
– Just purchase each piece separately.
Naturally, Microsoft didn’t choose any of these methods. What you have
instead is a number of “suites”, each a different mix of products. For
example, if you just need Word and Excel, you could purchase Office
Standard. If, on the other hand, you also need Access, then you need to
purchase Office Premium. To make matters even worse, depending upon how many
of each product you want to purchase you can use different discount scales.
It’s enough to make one pull his hair out in frustration. But wait, it gets
even worse with the operating systems. You want Windows 2000 server, then
you need to purchase a license for the server, a license for each
workstation (Windows 2000 Professional) and a Client Access License (CAL)
for each workstation that needs to access a server. And, of course,
depending upon how many of each you buy you get a different discount scale.
Oh, we’re not finished yet. You also have the choice of ordering Backoffice,
which contains many of the server products sold by Microsoft. It may (or may
not) be cheaper to get one Backoffice license than, say, an Exchange
license, a SQL license and a Windows 2000 server license. Then you’ve got to
remember if you purchase Backoffice or the separate products for your server
in order to purchase either Backoffice CALs or the individual CALs for each
product. And, of course, each product has it’s own discount scale depending
upon how many you purchase.
Now, with the impending release of Windows XP and the release of Office XP,
it has, believe it or not, got even more confusing.
Take a deep breath and see if you can follow this. We purchased some 500
copies of Office 95, which we upgraded to Office 97, then upgraded to Office
2000. We looked carefully at Office XP and quickly decided we did not want
to install it on any of our systems. We are happy with Office 2000.
However, we might want to upgrade to the version of Office following that,
or even the one after that (Microsoft seems to be releasing a new version
every couple of years). In the past, we would simply pay an upgrade fee to
go from wherever we were to the new version.
No more. Now, we have to purchase what is basically upgrade insurance by a
particular deadline (it was September but this seems to have been moved to
February). We also have to pay to upgrade everything to Office XP at the
same time. If we do not do this, we will wind up paying over 200% more if we
decide to upgrade at some point in the future.
Okay, so Microsoft is forcing us to pay now for a product which we may or
may not want in the future. Personally, I believe they know that Office XP
is not a product which most people want – in fact, I don’t know of any
system manager anywhere who is even considering upgrading to the new
version. Why not? The user interface is significantly different (requiring
retraining), the performance is poor (requires more hardware to operate) and
the benefits TO THE USER are completely nonexistent.
It gets worse. We have decided to go ahead and get the upgrade insurance and
upgrade our product on paper. However, we definitely do not want to install
Office XP on any machine at any time. Thus, we simply want to make the
purchase to retain our rights to upgrades in the future.
We are allowed to install the older versions as much as we want under the
terms of the license agreements as long as we purchase enough licenses of
the new version to cover it all. So we went to purchase Office XP
Professional, then found ourselves in an interesting position.
We originally bought the Professional edition because we wanted Publisher.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has decided to remove Publisher from Office XP
Professional (in fact, they have also removed Frontpage – no huge loss
considering that Frontpage XP is not 강남안마 미술관 an improvement over 2000).
This introduced lots of confusion into the picture. After much study and
hours of phone discussions with Microsoft, we determined that we could
install Office Professional 2000 with Publisher for each of the Office
Professional XP licenses that we purchased. If, however, we did upgrade to
Office Professional XP, then we would need to purchase one additional
Publisher license per machine.
It would be so much easier if we could just purchase 500 licenses for Word,
500 for Excel and 500 for Publisher. We would be happy to purchase a
maintenance agreement for the whole mix. We don’t need Access or PowerPoint,
yet due to the way Microsoft has it all structured we have to purchase
licenses for them. Sigh.
Now I have to go figure out how to upgrade and license my Windows NT and
Windows 2000 machines. It’s enough to make me look into the mirror to see if
I have any more gray hairs.…