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Windows Decisions: The licensing decision

You have a decision to make before July 31 -- whether to get with Microsoft's new licensing program. Some of the decision-makers at TechTarget's Windows Decisions conference have already decided what to do.

CHICAGO -- The response to Microsoft's volume licensing scheme was a mixed bag from Windows Decisions conference attendees. While several are ready to wholeheartedly comply, others are still weighing the pros and cons and have yet to make a decision. One thing is for sure: No one really understands the logistics of Microsoft's volume licensing plan.

Rick Woffard hopes to make a decision on his company's licensing by July 31. "Right now we're still investigating what we're going to do. We're not sure," said Woffard, information systems coordinator at Hydro-Gear in Sullivan, Ill. "It's a question of budgeting."

Kevin Rost, a network technologies manager, doesn't know either. His company, Autostock International of Barnaby, British Columbia, currently has a Select 5.0 license agreement. The question Rost is wrestling with is whether to stick with Select 5.0 or go with an Enterprise Agreement. "It's one of those things where we have to discover whether that's the best road to go or not. I don't think anyone understands it, so we're plugging along."

One thing Rost knows for sure, however, is that the licensing fees will probably break the bank. "I wish that Microsoft's bank account was my bank account for this licensing thing," he said.

Money is on many IT managers' minds, of course. "We all pay too much for licenses," said Todd Mccoy, a systems administrator at La Porte County Sheriff's Department, La Porte, Ind. He has resigned himself to volume licensing, though, because "it's just part of consumer policy for a company. Your hands are tied. If you want to use the product, you have to comply with it."

So Mccoy's office will comply with Microsoft's volume licensing changes. "We have to. If a sheriff's office doesn't abide by the law, who will?"

The La Porte County Sheriff's Department is in the process of buying Software Assurance. It also has some open licenses it will stick with before July, Mccoy said.

Tim Fenner's plan "is to go with an open license agreement and then Software Assurance." First, however, his company will move to Upgrade Advantage "because then it doesn't cost as much to get to Software Assurance."

Fenner, network and systems administrator at Sun Prairie, Wis.-based Independent Pharmacy Cooperative (IPC), believes Software Assurance will benefit his company because it will keep them on the cutting edge of technologies by allowing easy updating.

On the topic of money, Fenner said, "It may not save us money. We may break even. We may pay a little more certain years, and some years we may save money." He understands that saving money is not guaranteed.

Fenner's one big gripe: "You can't apply the Software Assurance license agreement to OEM installs." If you get a PC from Dell with Windows 2000 and Office installed, for example, you can't apply Software Assurance, he said. "You have to actually buy the agreement to upgrade that and then put the Software Assurance on it. That is discouraging."

In terms of understanding Microsoft's licensing scheme, Fenner echoed the sentiments of many attendees: "There is no true understanding of it all."


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