Microsoft customers sour on Software Assurance

IT procurement managers are finding that Microsoft Corp.’s Software Assurance maintenance program may not save them money as hoped, according to a survey by Forrester Research Inc.

The Microsoft program guarantees updates to new products along with support and training tools. One of the most compelling reasons to buy Software Assurance was free upgrades from, for example, Windows XP to Windows Vista.

But Microsoft hasn’t stuck to a consistent release schedule, which can actually mean the program could cost companies more money than simply buying new licenses as needed, according to the four-page Forrester report, written by Julie Giera, a vice-president at the research firm.

For desktops, Software Assurance (SA) is 29 per cent the cost of an annual license. If Microsoft goes at least four years in between releases — the company went about five years between XP and Vista releases — the cost of Software Assurance works out at 116 per cent of a new desktop license, Giera wrote. For servers, Software Assurance is about 25 per cent the annual cost of a license.

Of 63 IT procurement professionals Forrester surveyed, 86 per cent said their licensing arrangement with Microsoft will expire this year. Twenty-six per cent said they will not renew Software Assurance, with 31 per cent still undecided. Another 18 per cent said they would renew for some products, with the remainder saying they would either probably or definitely renew.

About 74 per cent of those who said they would not buy the same amount of Software Assurance maintenance said the economics did not make sense, and 59 per cent said they did not expect to get a new product release.

Forrester is advising companies to negotiate early with Microsoft and hold out for better deals.

Microsoft could not be reached for immediate comment.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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