- Pro - local prices are stable and predictable. In contrast, ‚¬ and £ prices from other US-based vendors may rise or fall by 20% from one year to the next as the currencies fluctuate. (This is one reason why SAP’s revenue rises and Oracle’s falls when the ‚¬ weakens against the $, as these price changes affect demand).
- Con - European companies pay more than their US-based peers. This doesn’t matter so much if you’re only competing with domestic rivals, but global companies see and resent the discrepancies.
Forrester’s take. This is a reasonable move by Microsoft. There is no good reason why UK customers should pay less and Swiss companies more than their European neighbours. It is unfortunate that the former will see a significant rise, but its merely an undeserved advantage disappearing. UK customers should blame our weak currency, rather than Microsoft, for the increase. Moreover, Microsoft has given plenty of warning so UK companies can pre-empt the increase. It would have been nice for European customers if Microsoft had also decided to align ‚¬ and $ prices, but that is a more complex issue that deserves a separate discussion.
Existing EA and SA contracts are unaffected. These are three-year commitments that fix your prices at the start of the term, so the new prices wont affect you until you come to renew those agreements. For example SA invoices for year three of agreements signed in 2010 will be at the same prices as the bills for years one and two. Importantly, sourcing professionals with agreements ending between now and Microsoft’s year end will be able to renew them at pre-increase prices.
UK buyers with Select agreements should consider bringing forward any Microsoft purchases. Coupled with Microsoft sales teams’ perennial desire to maximise their Q4 numbers, buyers should be able to save 30% or more by buying in June what they would otherwise have purchased in September or December. The price difference may also swing the SA decision by increasing the saving against buying new licenses in four or five years time when you next upgrade.
Swiss purchasers should threaten to delay deals unless they get the price reduction immediately. The local sales team still has to make its June number, despite the 20% price reduction waiting to take effect in July. The only way it can do that is by offering bigger discretionary discounts, in effect giving customers the equivalent of ‚¬ pricing before its officially available.
Bottom Line: Microsoft licensing is an increasingly complex topic. Decisions between programs, navigating the policies and understanding how to get the best possible deal are all areas where education and independent advice can be valuable.
By Duncan Jones