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Microsoft still has its work cut out on licensing

Software Assurance. Licensing 6.0. These are still alien terms to many of the 1,000 IT managers and administrators who responded to a recent survey. Can anything bring down the wall of confusion?

Microsoft hasn't made much progress convincing customers that its Software Assurance maintenance program is a winner, and many remain confused by the company's licensing program in general, according to a recent survey.

In new research from, IT administrators said they still believe Microsoft's Licensing 6.0 is still more difficult to understand than other vendors' licensing agreements. This comes despite efforts on Microsoft's part to simplify the program.

More than half of the respondents said the terms were either too difficult or moderately difficult to understand.

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About 22% were ambivalent about the terms. Roughly 11% thought the licensing agreements were somewhat or easy to understand.

"It's just not clear," said Jeff Horn, a systems engineer at the Horn Consulting Group in Atlanta. "The technology is in constant change."

The confusion over CALs

Horn said one thing that has shifted is what is counted as a client access license (CAL) before is not the same as how it is counted today, which causes some confusion.

As to the value of Software Assurance, opinions vary widely on whether it's a good deal, depending on when a customer bought the software. Those who purchased SA in the newest release aren't sure whether or not they will get a major upgrade.

"We just signed up last year and we are not up for renewal until 2006," said David Driggers, IT asset management and deployment team leader at Alabama Gas Corp., of Birmingham, Ala. "It looks like we might get [another release] but we are not really sure."

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