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Jun 6 2008   12:54PM GMT

Hey Microsoft: Keep it simple, stupid!

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Earlier this week, a partner asked Microsoft the following question: If Software Assurance expires on Small Business Server 2003, will the client lose the right to install SBS 2003 on new hardware?

Seems like a simple enough question, right? Wrong. On the Microsoft SMB Community Blog, it takes Microsoft senior manager Eric Ligman nearly 650 words to answer.

First he spells out the differences between license rights and Software Assurance benefits, then he gives a few examples of each, then he provides a link to a chart that shows which Volume Licensing programs provide which Software Assurance benefits, then he talks about adding Software Assurance after making a purchase, and finally he embeds a video about adding Software Assurance to OEM server licenses. Oh, and somewhere in the middle there, he answers the original question. (It’s “no,” if you were wondering.)

Is Microsoft’s licensing really as confusing as it’s made out to be in this post? If so, it sounds like it’s time for an extreme makeover.

The vast majority of Microsoft partners sell several different Microsoft product lines, which only compounds the problems of keeping track of the different licenses, license rights and Software Assurance benefits. They shouldn’t have to consult a chart or go to Microsoft with these types of questions.

Microsoft clearly hasn’t been following the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle lately. If you recall, the names of some Microsoft product lines are tripping at least one partner up as well. If I were Microsoft, I’d make sure that KISS is on my list.

2  Comments on this Post

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  • Garyh
    While I believe the complete response that Ligman provided was loaded with too much marketing material the fact is the question asked wasn't specific enough to not provide a simple answer. SBS can be licensed in multiple ways - OEM, retail package, Open Business and Open Value. Only the OEM license prohibits the installation - or transfer - to new hardware. While this adds to "licensing complexity" it does mean that system builders get to sell new licenses with new hardware and end users don't pay as much for the license. Technically a win-win for both parties. Since the question did not identify the type of SBS license AND made reference to Software Assurance, Ligman logically infers that there is a possibility that an OEM base license is involved. So in order to provide a complete and accurate answer he had to address the transfer rights to the OEM license that are gained from the purchase of SA.
    5 pointsBadges:
  • Mack Mcrae
    Microsoft has been offering a licensing boot camp for partners. It lasts most of a day. If it takes a day to explain MS licensing, you know it's too complicated.
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