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Forecast on Microsoft licensing speaks volumes

Buried in the hubbub this week over Microsoft's decision to release piles of cash to its shareholders was a rosier-than-expected forecast for software-license renewals for volume customers.

Microsoft had previously predicted that 10% to 30% of its Upgrade Advantage customers would make the leap to the successor Software Assurance program when their UA deals ran out. Now, Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund predicts those numbers will be more like 20% to 30%.


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encouraging news for Microsoft, which spread a little licensing cheer of its own. This week, CRN reported that Microsoft will give Upgrade Advantage customers more time to make up their minds about their next move. The software-licensing program ended on June 30, but Redmond extended the deadline by 90 days to make the switch to Software Assurance. That would be Sept. 28 for those of you marking your calendar.

Another licensing deadline is fast approaching as well. Many of the original holders of three-year Software Assurance licenses will have to make up their minds about renewing before the end of the month. Under this program, volume-license customers get to take advantage of free software upgrades during the life of the contract. However, some customers have grumbled that they really don't have much to show for participating these past three years.

Such talk doesn't appear to faze Microsoft. Cori Hartje, an executive with the company's licensing and partnering program, told eWEEK that about 66% to 75% of Software Assurance customers plan to renew their agreements.

Elsewhere in the news

Not that it means a whole lot to IT administrators in the trenches, but here's the recap on Microsoft's big stock news: Shareholders will get a one-time, $3-a-share dividend in November. And over the next four years, Microsoft will buy back $30 billion of its stock and increase its annual dividend to 32 cents a share.

Microsoft also quietly released some details about its plans for a version of Windows for high performance computing (HPC) environments. Greg Rankich, who is involved in the development of the product, said that the biggest benefits will come in the areas of database, storage and systems management, as well as Active Directory. Rankich admitted to IT Week that this product -- targeted for commercial release in the middle of next year -- will not contain all the features of other flavors of the operating system. It will, however, contain an integrated message-passing interface, job scheduling and cluster resource management, he said.

More MVPs are code-worthy

The number of Microsoft "Most Valuable Professionals" who have access to Windows source code will be soon be increasing. The shared code program for this group began in October and is now open to MVPs from 27 nations. Many of the newly eligible MVPs -- technology experts recognized by Microsoft for their contributions to the Windows community -- come from Europe.

Redmond this week also said that it will kick in resources to help the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance to catch spammers and track violations of the Can Spam Act. Microsoft said its contribution will include software and the full-time help of one of its analysts. The alliance is run through a partnership of the FBI, two universities and others.

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