Microsoft dramatically simplifies licensing

Microsoft is reducing the length of some bulk software contracts and cutting as many as half of its pricing options in certain product segments.

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Microsoft is reducing the length of some bulk software contracts and cutting as many as half of its pricing options in certain product segments.

This week the company said it was reducing the length of three of its volume-licensing agreements between 10% to 50%. Its Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription, Select License, Open Value, Open Value Subscription and Open License contracts are affected.

Microsoft also has made it easier for customers to navigate license information and sign up online, the company said. The changes will be phase in throughout its fiscal year 2008, which began 1 July.

Microsoft has been tweaking its volume licenses over the last several years in an effort to make them less complicated for customers. The company also faces pressure from the industry move to subscription licenses. Microsoft is keeping up with some of these changes by offering more business software as subscription services, but still has a history of complex product licensing to contend with.

Specifically, Microsoft said it will reduce the number of price points and product options for each of its volume licensing programs, which will simplify customers' search for specific product pricing. Currently, Microsoft has more than 8 million price points worldwide, which can be confusing for customers. To reduce the number of price points, individual product options with the same pricing will change to one term, called "Single Language," the company said.

For example, a product such as SQL Server has versions for different languages. If it is sold with support for only one language, such as English, and is priced the same as other versions for other languages, the products now will be listed as "SQL Server Single Language" rather than with each language listed individually, Microsoft said.

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