Microsoft Gives Key Value-Add


Partners welcome upgrade program changes


Microsoft channel partners say they are upbeat about,not threatened by,the vendor's move to include value-added services such as technical support and training in its Software Assurance upgrade program.

The changes in the Software Assurance program, unveiled last week and due to go into effect in September, will stimulate upgrade purchases and benefit service providers, solution providers say.

 
 SOFTWARE ASSURANCE: Changes effective September
>> SERVERS
%95 Problem resolution offered online and via phone
%95 TechNet Plus
%95Extended Hot Fix Support
>> DESKTOPS
%95 Home Use Program Office System 2003 products
%95 30% discount on Microsoft products for use at home
%95 Training vouchers

 

Microsoft has been under pressure to revise the Software Assurance plan since last July 31, the deadline for customers to secure upgrade rights at a discount. Though some had hoped that Microsoft would cut upgrade pricing, Software Assurance's new value-added services and home-use rights policy for Office have cash value at a time when businesses are nixing such services from their budgets and trying to squeeze more productivity from employees, solution providers say.

"Before, tech support had been missing entirely from Microsoft's licensing and upgrade program. I'm anticipating that Microsoft will have more to offer to get people to buy into the program," said John McGrath, a software licensing specialist at Bell Industries, Indianapolis.

"I don't think it will take any major [service] engagements from VARs. If Microsoft can stimulate upgrades from NT to Windows Server 2003, it will be good for all of us," McGrath added.

Keith Coogan, CEO of Software Spectrum, a Garland, Texas-based licensing services company and Microsoft Enterprise Software Adviser, said he expects the revised Software Assurance program to spur upgrade business.

"It makes it more palatable for the customer. The training and tech support will have great value," Coogan said.

Small-business solution providers say they hope to exploit the Microsoft tech support. "Potentially, it's a benefit for us," said Eliot Sennet, president

of ESI Enterprises, Newton, Mass.