Microsoft Rolls Out Multiyear Open Licensing For SMB Crowd In Europe

Vendor considers similar plan in U.S.

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As it mulls changes in the United States for its smaller customers, Microsoft has launched an enterpriselike agreement for small to midsize businesses in Europe.

According to a Microsoft document, the multi-year open (MYO) licensing policy was unveiled this week for SMB customers in Europe, Middle East and Africa with more than five PCs.

The policy, which supplements existing SMB licensing plans, allows SMB customers to pay for their software licenses over a three-year period in fixed annual installments to enable better cash flow management. This is similar to the Enterprise Agreement (EA) licensing that has been offered for large enterprise companies.

Products covered by the three-year agreement include Windows XP upgrade, Office XP and server licenses via client-access licenses. Customers can also customize their MYO licenses to include other applications, including Small Business Server, FrontPage, Visio or Project, according to the document.

The policy includes Software Assurance, ensuring that customers are entitled to any new versions of software covered during the three-year agreement.

The MYO gives smaller businesses a way to effect a single, organizationwide software license for the three-year period, after which the software is owned.

According to the document, Microsoft will also continue to offer SMB customers Open Subscription License and Open License and has been working with channel partners since Aug. 1 to prepare for the new MYO policy.

As first reported by CRN in April, Microsoft is considering a similar MYO for SMB customers in the United States and has a number of pilots under way. Some channel partners expected that it would be rolled out at Fusion 2002 in July, but that didn't pan out. Microsoft, however, has reportedly decided to create a multiyear option for SMB customers in the United States and is refining the policy before launching it in the Americas.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed the MYO offering in Europe but declined to comment on whether or when a similar deal will be offered in the United States. "It's being rolled out in Europe only and doesn't change the status of the U.S.-based program," she said. "There still are no further developments to the U.S.-based or worldwide programs at this time."

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