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back to article Microsoft tarts up software licensing to fend off 'a few clicks and a credit card' rivals

Microsoft is trying to make the dark art of software licensing less complicated and more relevant to a cloudier world – but, as always, the devil will be in the detail. The first signs of a Redmond overhaul came at the end of September when it canned Select Plus Agreement rebates for channel partners in favour of the Next …

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Anonymous Coward

We are making it simpler

But we are putting up the prices yet again by inflation busting amounts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

And this is the key issue, price. Having persuaded the management where I work 2 1/2 years ago to go onto an OVS I am now having to explain to them that actually it is now about 25% more expensive! What extra 25% value are we getting?

I do hope it is made much simpler for the SME as I'd be very surprised if most know the need for CALs or external connector license for IIS and other potholes. It should be that a Windows Pro OS license includes the CALs and a windows server should be per CPU only. Make it simple!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

"But we are putting up the prices yet again by inflation busting amounts."

Because they added loads of features and allowed for the fact that individual CPUs are getting more powerful...

"'Why do I need to speak to a rocket scientist every time I buy Microsoft?'"

Presumably you must be purchasing Windows for Warships....

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Big Brother

Re: We are making it simpler

"..and allowed for the fact that individual CPUs are getting more powerful..."

Yes.

[John Cleese Pause]

It is absolutely justifiable to make customers pay for the faster CPUs they enjoy, because, after all, these other companies' (i.e. Intel's) work is not being Microsoft-taxed by default! The customer paid for hardware out of his own pocket! Without giving Microsoft a cut!! This is irresponsible, akin to refusing to pay VAT or income tax, which goes to the support of widows, children and roads. What is the world coming to when QUALITY work by Redmond is no longer appreciated and people start to dispute adequate remuneration! Microsoft could decide to just withhold its products, leaving you die slowly in the basement with an unsupported NT kernel and a festering IIS, so be grateful!

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N2
Trollface

Re: We are making it simpler

To decide on something else

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WTF?

Re: We are making it simpler

Because they added loads of features and allowed for the fact that individual CPUs are getting more powerful...

And do you pay extra if you've got the turbo button pressed down or is that factored into the licensing cost anyway but you have the choice of not pressing the turbo button?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

Dear Manuel / Destroy All Monsters

It is obviously beyond you, but for instance the number of Windows Server VMs you can run on Datacentre Server, The scalability of SQL Server, BizTalk Server, etc. etc. are directly related to the CPU performance - So it makes perfect sense for licensing to be adjusted according to current performance....And this is exactly what IBM, VMware, Oracle, etc. all already do....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

My god, had to reply to this, I know, don't feed the troll and all that, but...

"Because they added loads of features...."

Perhaps you're referring to the features that simply make their own products merely usable? Or the ones that constantly raise the CPU and RAM requirements just to boot to the desktop? Or the ones that change 20-year old user interface conventions in an attempt to have a leg on the mobile/touch/tablet market? Or the ones that provide backwards compatibility at a huge cost in security? Or the ones that force users to endure non standard compliant products for the sake of "embrace, extend extinguish"? Or the ones that restrict what you can and what you can't do with your software such as, god forbids, install it on another machine? Or the ones that restrict what you can do with your computer, such as changing its motherboard?

You sound like each and every MS feature adds is because they think about their customers. Current Microsoft customers are paying the "upgrade tax" because they perceive the "switch to something else tax" to be greater. Microsoft products right now do not provide any major value advantage. There is not a single Microsoft technology (care to mention one?) that does not have an alternative means of achieving the same results without carrying such huge amounts of platform lock-in, and costing less and being are more flexible.

"and allowed for the fact that individual CPUs are getting more powerful..."

Oh, yes, when MS sold you the Windows license they clearly stated "should your CPU become more powerful we deserve to earn more from you" As if the CPU becoming more powerful or getting more cores was not needed to run the additional bloat, or if their speed improvements in hardware had absolutely everything to do with the way Windows is built. Or because Microsoft paid Intel billions to make its hardware run faster. Or is it perhaps because the hardware improvements are impacting MS bottom line because you can do now with one machine what you did with two?

Back in planet earth, Microsoft is governed by salesmen and accountants, not by technology innovators. Like Oracle and IBM, by the way. Lacking any new technologies to push to the market, what they do is a simple spreadsheet exercise where they adjust the numbers so that they can still show how much profitable they are. Penny wise and pound foolish, innovation is simply eating them away. Remember, five years ago Android wasn't here, iPhones were not going anywhere and Amazon EC was a crazy idea done by an online book store. The dinosaurs can't change because change would destroy their revenue sources, so this is just an exercise in squeezing the most out of what they have. And what they have is increasingly discontent and disaffected customers.

You're either a fanboy immersed in Microsoft reality distortion field or Microsoft is not paying you well enough to write this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

Sounds like we've got to be grateful MS hasn't applied this thinking to Windows. With the CPU speed increase from its inception to today we'd probably be paying, what, 50 times as much?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

Simpler = less flexible.

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CLD

Re: We are making it simpler

The changes are because most people are leveraging a virtual environment today... consider:

"What extra 25% value are we getting?" - each Windows Server Standard License now allows you to run two VM's rather than one... There's double the value there.

"a windows server should be per CPU only" - in a virtualised world, would you license the virtual CPU as well? If you are oversubscibing your server CPU's, would you pay for each of them multiple times? If you are running VMware on your server or some other non-MS hypervisor, how do you see that working? Would you go sockets, cores or threads?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We are making it simpler

"And do you pay extra if you've got the turbo button pressed down or is that factored into the licensing cost anyway but you have the choice of not pressing the turbo button?"

I don't think they worry too much if you are still using a 386 based PC that has one....

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N2

Re: We are making it simpler @ AC

It is obviously beyond you too.

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Roo
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Re: We are making it simpler

"Because they added loads of features and allowed for the fact that individual CPUs are getting more powerful..."

I think you'll find the actual reason is that they wanted to extract more cash from their customers because they can.

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Bronze badge

I'm making it simpler in my business...

... by replacing all the Microsoft stuff with open source equivalents.

Elsewhere someone rebuked me for suggesting this kind of thing. 'Sticking with MS is cheaper' they said. 'No rewriting' they said. 'No staff training' they said. Keep telling yourselves that, MS customers, every time this sort of thing comes around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

"... by replacing all the Microsoft stuff with open source equivalents."

Good luck with that. Munich council have been trying for ten years, have spent tens of millions and still haven't finished. Hence why near zero companies are going down that path...

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Facepalm

Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

> near zero companies

Where is my laughing elf icon?

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Roo
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Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

"Good luck with that. Munich council have been trying for ten years, have spent tens of millions and still haven't finished. Hence why near zero companies are going down that path..."

I'm curious, why do you peddle this stale FUD/bullshit over and over again ? If you believe in what you are saying why are you hiding behind Anonymous ?

I ask because as customer I value competition in the market place. Folks promoting FUD like yourself are working towards removing competition from the market place. If you are successful then everyone (including you) will end up with less choice, higher costs and zero incentive for the dominant player to improve their products.

Meanwhile here in the real world folks like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, oil companies and the top tier Banks have been running vast farms of Linux boxes for a long time now. Those guys in your "near zero" category account for a vast proportion of world trade, so thankfully we still have some choice in the marketplace.

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Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

& big Pharma, universities, CERN ....

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Silver badge

Re: Pathetic Munich misinformation

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Munich-s-Migration-from-Windows-to-Linux-Is-Finally-Over-357169.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limux

http://jan.wildeboer.net/2013/01/that-hpmicrosoft-study-on-the-linux-migration-in-munich-hm/

Come on AC - give us a link to the HP study paid for by Microsoft that 'proves' Linux was more expensive than Windows:

http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/open-source/3421844/microsoft-refuses-to-release-study-challenging-munich-linux-success/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

> & big Pharma, universities, CERN ....

London Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange, US Dod, Ernie Ball, etc etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_adopters

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

But NOT on the desktop....And Windows Server still has a 75% market share of x86/x64 servers....

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Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

"But NOT on the desktop.."

Oh, you KNOW that do you. Well as usual you're wrong. It was the desktop I was talking about with Pharma, universities and CERN. For example I and my colleagues (~250) at one company each had a big dual Xeon workstation apiece running RHEL with buckets of memory, stereo graphics hardware that cost more than most workstations and access to compute servers and linux farms for the big jobs AND a Windows desktop each for the corporate cr*p

Also the share you spout about for servers is by VALUE not instances

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Roo
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Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

"But NOT on the desktop....And Windows Server still has a 75% market share of x86/x64 servers...."

Well I can't address your suspiciously round number of 75% or even attribute it to you because you are posting as anonymous and you won't reveal your source so that sentence is not worth the cost of sending the bits to the Register in the first place.

For the record I use a windows desktop at my place of work, and all I use it for is keeping my feet warm, reading emails (Outlook is so crap compared to Thunderbird), writing code using Eclipse and sometimes building it with Maven. Sadly I can't actually run the entire system on my dev box because the compute intensive bit is compiled down to a Linux binary which runs on a grid of Linux boxes. This is actually one of the smallest grids I've worked with (~30), the other systems I've worked on tended to have several hundred linux boxes doing the compute.

It would actually be easier if the devs could have Linux on their desktop, but there is a lot of resistance from the folks running the desktops who funnily enough have invested most of their career in MS products and don't want to see change happening - even if it would save a couple of man-months per desktop of developer time every year.

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Re:Hence why near zero companies are going down that path...

Excepting maybe Google, Apple, Yahoo... You know - the small fry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re:Hence why near zero companies are going down that path...

"Excepting maybe Google, Apple, Yahoo... You know - the small fry."

Google and Apple are massive rivals of Microsoft - I expect you could add Oracle to that list too - they probably use their own crappy Sunray stuff - but Yahoo primarily use Windows on the desktop....I expect that you are confused that they sell a version of Zimbra desktop that is compatible with Linux?

That doesn't change the fact that ~ 99% of the FTSE 500 run Windows as their primary end user OS....

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Roo
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Re: Re:Hence why near zero companies are going down that path...

"

That doesn't change the fact that ~ 99% of the FTSE 500 run Windows as their primary end user OS...."

Nor does it change the fact that sales of Windows desktop PCs have been falling for a few years now. This is probably because email & web browsing are the main tasks performed by those boxes, and just about anything from a low-end phone to a Mac can do the same job now.

With all due respect to FTSE 500 companies maintaining a vast Windows Desktop estate, in my experience they often piss money up the wall because they don't know any better or in some cases they simply don't feel the need to do better.

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Roo
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Re: Pathetic Munich misinformation (@ Flocke Kroes)

"http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/open-source/3421844/microsoft-refuses-to-release-study-challenging-munich-linux-success/"

They didn't include licensing fees in the "Total Cost of Ownership" for the Windows software... Classic weasel words.

Looks like MS thinks Licensing fees are N/A to running a Windows box, we'd all better ask for some refunds. ;)

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Linux

Re: I'm making it simpler in my business...

I just installed VirtualBox on my Windows desktop machine and did most of my work on a Linux VM. That way you can interact with the corporate world when necessary but otherwise stick to Linux. Ideally I'd do it the other way round, have a Windows VM that I fire up when necessary, which is how I use it at home. Mostly I just fire it up once a month to download updates.

What it really needs is for some of the Windows-only software houses to produce Linux versions of their software. Just make sure it works on RHEL and Ubuntu LTS distros and make it available as an rpm and a deb for easy install and you've picked a reasonable starting subset to support that will attract a lot of people. Those who want to use Debian or Slackware or other distros are probably smart enough to get it working on their own.

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Happy

TL;DR

"Confusion Marketing is..... confusing"

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Gold badge

Microsoft's licensing complexity is a strategic play on their part. I will believe that Microsoft have evolved to even be corporately capable or caring about the customer (or their partner ecosystem) the day they rationalism VDI licensing to get rid of per-endpoint billing.

Crap that requires you to meter the number of devices you use to connect to a VDI instance that itself is subject to a "CAL" metering system for every Microsoft product it touches is just a hose job. If Microsoft want to make licensing even close to as easy as their competition then metering - be it VDI or CALs - has to die.

I am willing to bet a fairly large amount of money that Microsoft are culturally incapable of that. So much so that I am not only moving myself (and as many customers as I possibly can) as far away from Microsoft as possible, I am donating heavily to open source projects which will make it easier (and in some cases possible) to move away from Microsoft.

The current hope is to save enough on licensing in 2014 that we can hire a full time developer and devote him to coding on the Weyland/Weston project until we get a reliable FreeRDP server working in an enterprise-class Linux distribution. After that, ReactOS.

Maybe neither project will ever truly come to fruition. But it's better to put the effort - and my money - into community projects that benefit everyone instead of pumping those same dollars into Microsoft's coffers, validating their user (and partner!) hostile licensing shenanigans.

Oddly enough, I have a great deal of respect for Microsoft's technology. In many ways even more than the scattered open source community which seems to be tearing itself apart more than is normal. I just can't bring myself to keep cranking tokens into the slot machine, however, praying to a $deity that doesn't exist that Microsoft will one day offer licensing in a fair and rational manner.

No matter how many announcements they make, no matter how hard they try to whip the press - or their evangelist base of brand tribalists - into a frenzy about "the new hotness" in licensing, it's a sham until they address the actual problems that have been around for years.

Oracle Microsoft doesn't have customers. They have hostages.

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Anonymous Coward

" I am donating heavily to open source projects which will make it easier (and in some cases possible) to move away from Microsoft."

I bought Microsoft shares - up over 30% so far this year!

"praying to a $deity that doesn't exist that Microsoft will one day offer licensing in a fair and rational manner."

Business isn't about being fair....however Microsoft's licensing is already clearer and fairer and say Oracle or IBM...

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Trollface

I am donating heavily...

vs.

I bought Microsoft shares - up over 30% so far this year!

I am not sure you actually realize how shares work, Monsieur mmeier. Or is it RICHTO?

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Pint

Excellently put sir....serious upvote

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@AC - Microsoft is up on the year

It started the year on a dip. And the chief dip can only retire once.

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Anonymous Coward

"am not sure you actually realize how shares work, Monsieur mmeier"

Oh but I do. I made a bundle on Nokia too!

Looking hopeful so far:

"In an earnings statement covering the three months to the end of September, Microsoft said that profit rose 17 percent to $5.2 billion, or 62 cents per share, up from $4.5 billion, or 53 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago"

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So you get your jollies by bragging on the internet about how you made money by making the lives of millions more miserable.

Christ, what an asshole.

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He's not an asshole hes a capitalist.

Well he's probably an asshole as well

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Anonymous Coward

Everyone I ever met with a Nokia Lumia has loved it! So presumably helping to make millions happier....

<insert your preferred fairy-tale character>, what an attitude problem!

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Why is almost every Microsoft apologist posting as AC?

Hmmm, I wonder.

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resellers

Buying from Microsoft has always been a nightmare. They force you via resellers for most stuff, so the pricing is murky and the service is terrible.

A few years ago, I wanted to buy 5 Visual Studio Pro licenses for a business in the middle east. Microsoft forced me to go via a partner in Dubai. Having a strong south asian influence there, the people I was dealing with had no idea about any of the software they were selling and quoted a stupid price that they'd clearly looked up in the wrong column of some (no doubt paper) price list. After we eventually got to the right price, they said I'd have to turn up with a credit card and pay in person because they didn't do e-commerce. Apparently 'it is not secure'. Slightly ironic considering Microsoft was heavily pushing Visual Studio for e-commerce development.

Eventually they settled for me sending over the wife with my company credit card, which she obviously couldn't sign for. This apparently passed their security threshold...

When it came to source control, one of the deciding factors in going for non-MS was that we just couldn't face having to deal with their moronic resellers again.

Microsoft really need to figure out quickly that protecting their legacy resellers is a false economy - ditch these clowns and let customers who want to buy stuff direct via a web site and download it.

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Weel

MS licensing is a 5 year study, that is valid 3 years from start of study.

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'Microsoft, the antediluvian tech giant'

http://brontecapital.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/microsoft-antediluvian-tech-giant.html

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Voting with my feet

MS has more problems than just the complexity of their licensing.

I have been a Microsoft customer since 1984 when I purchased their excellent (at the time) macro assembler for x86.

I actually did a contract for Microsoft years ago. For a while I contented myself with the fact that I was sort of playing with 'house money'.

MS has always been fierce and predatory, but as long as they were going after someone else nobody seemed to mind. Now they consider the customer (at least my company) to be the enemy.

I actually had a vanilla VM move yesterday that resulted in a properly licensed Windows 7 Pro system claiming that the license had to be validated again and then claiming the license, which I got directly from Microsoft and has been working for years, has to be validated by phone. Anyone who has undergone the torture of validation by phone will understand that I elected to do otherwise. I used a (legitimate) hack to extend the license while I move whatever was on there to Linux.

I spent literally more than 12 hours upgrading a Windows 8 machine yesterday and the vast majority of that time is attributable 100% to Microsoft belligerence.

Microsoft will never stop until they have ruined you. I strongly suggest anyone do as I have done/am doing -- retire your MS systems entirely and move to open source.

Unlike my MS stuff, my open source stuff hums along smoothly. I have had my main Linux server crash only one time in the five years it has been running. Except for that one time, I have never been forced to reboot the system and it sometimes goes literally months without a reboot. It started as an Ubuntu 8.x server and has smoothly upgraded (except that one time) to 12.04. Meantime, my MS Server 2003 did not work at all due to an MS shipment error they refused to correct and the 2008R2 server I had to use instead failed so often I eventually virtualized it so I could just copy over the whole thing when it screwed up. OMFG. I had originally had Hyper-V machines, but transitioned all of them to VMWare.

Like many, I am stuck in the MS ecosystem. As someone else mentioned here, I am not a customer, I am a hostage.

MS has been such a bad partner for so long that I have largely moved off of MS Office, Visual Studio, Outlook, etc for day to day use. I am still obliged to maintain some sort of foothold in the MS ecosystem, but except for Win 7 Ultimate licenses on notebooks, I have begun virtualizing all of the MS operating systems and intend to keep one dual-boot machine for a workstation for performance reasons. Five notebooks here run the Windows OS they came with. All the rest run Windows 'something' on bare iron with most stuff virtualized under VMWare.

I actually have a new SSD expressly for the purpose of transitioning the first Windows 7 workstation to Linux. I was deferring the agony but since MS has been so incredibly bad recently, I am evaluating Linux workstation versions today and will install in a day or two.

MS Licensing is a symptom, not the problem. The problem is that MS is and always has been a predatory partner. It started with competitors, then large vendors and now it has hit the ground so it affects small consulting companies and their customers.

Part of the agony is blunted a bit because Windows 8 and its server equivalent is not a viable operating system for me. MS has forced a move off of Win XP and Win 7 but has not provided anything to which you can reasonably transition. They have basically 'end-of-lifed' their entire business as far as my company is concerned.

Windows 7 and even Windows XP is still superior to the Linux alternatives. As well, native RDP to windows (even from Linux to Windows) is superior to alternatives like XDMCP and VNC. Microsoft Office, at least the 2003 version I normally use is still superior to LibreOffice. The entire Windows ecosystem is still larger and richer than the Linux equivalents. Functionally, the advantage is almost entirely Microsoft's. However, operationally, the advantage is now with Linux. The only thing keeping some of us from moving is the cost of transition. Microsoft, for my company, has done several things of late that make it necessary to absorb the cost of transition. Microsoft has made staying with them costly enough that it outweighs the cost of transition to Linux.

I have taken a very long look at this. It has an enormous effect on me personally. Making Linux the primary environment is costly and difficult, but I am voting with my feet for Linux.

I can't say what will happen with the rest of the community, but for thirty years now I have been something of a bellwether. If others follow in the next few years MS will discover one of the cardinal rules of business applies more to them than anyone else: It is very cheap to keep a customer, but very expensive to obtain one or win one back. In this case, it would be virtually impossible to win me back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Voting with my feet

I have to agree with your points. I have some Windows-specific software I must use (CAD and interoperability for Office) but now I use XP VMs for that sort of thing and do everything I can to be Linux-based.

Yes, some of the Windows products are better than the FLOSS equivalents, but they have been getting broken for me (e.g. Office 'ribbon', TIFKAM) and the pain and cost (and licensing/audit risk) of going with MS/Adobe/Oracle is just too high.

For now at least 99.9+% of malware is still Windows-specific, and given the last time I checked kernel bugs were similar count on both platforms, I get far less to worry about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Voting with my feet

"For now at least 99.9+% of malware is still Windows-specific,"

Actually the vast majority of new Malware these days is on Android!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Voting with my feet

"I spent literally more than 12 hours upgrading a Windows 8 machine yesterday and the vast majority of that time is attributable 100% to Microsoft belligerence."

I suggest that your problem is likely located somewhere between your chair and your keyboard. My upgrade to Windows 8.1 took less than 20 minutes...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC 17:15

Such a tired remark. Take a look at, say, McAfee's recent report:

http://www.mcafee.com/uk/resources/reports/rp-quarterly-threat-q3-2013.pdf?cid=BHP019

Look for page 12 new Android malware for Q3 2013 is about 700,000

Look at page 14 for the new malware total, about 21,000,000

Guess what most of that targets?

Please use facts, not wishes or imagination, for your comments.

(for a bit of fanbois joy, look at page 18 for Mac malware, about 300)

(edited to use the more recent report)

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