Microsoft Oz ponders SMB licensing changes

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Microsoft Australia is considering emulating a new channel licensing model introduced in the US which has seen the software giant extend its enterprise licensing program and agent model to the SMB channel.

The US operation is rolling out a new SMB licensing option dubbed Open Value, which it claimed lets SMBs buy licenses that can save them up to 25 percent and spread their software license payments over three years.

Thomas Kablau, licensing manager at Microsoft Australia, said the company hasn't made a decision on a launch date for Open Value, saying it would take several months to decide on the best model for the local market.

In the US, the Open Value payment option lets SMBs with up to 750 seats enjoy the benefits of annuity payments, software savings and upgrade rights via Software Assurance.

Microsoft also unveiled a channel model that assigns distributors as license providers with resellers and integrators as advisers that are entitled to a fee for influencing a technology purchase decision.

In the US, both the licensing option and new channel roles will take effect in March 2003.

Microsoft's Kablau said the company would probably do some modifications on the model adopted in North America. "In Australia, the geography is different and the customers are different and we want to make sure partners here. We want to implement a program that is best suited for the Australian marketplace instead of taking a cookie-cutter approach to what's happened in North America," he said.

He added that Australian partners and customers had been asking for the ability to annualise licensing payments. "For customers that are looking at adopting Software Assurance, the capability to annualise payments would be attractive to them," he said.

"We have a channel in place that sells Open Licensing. We want to make sure that we don't affect them with a model that makes their lives miserable," he concluded.

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