IT Support | Solving the Microsoft Licensing Puzzle
- by Michael McLaughlin
When discussing Microsoft licensing renewals with our clients, some of them liken the software juggernaut to a mafia-like organization. “Why do I have to pay Microsoft again this year for a license that I already purchased?” “They know we need to buy Microsoft Office to conduct business, why does it cost $500? Seems like extortion” “Why did Steve Ballmer put a severed horse’s head in my bed while I was sleeping?” OK – the last one is false… please don’t release the hounds on me, M$FT!
At its most basic level, Microsoft licensing is COMPLEX! It is structured in a manner that many business owners don’t understand or don’t have time to fully grasp. The good news is that it is complex because they have developed so many ways for you to leverage a plan that will fit your business model and save money. While it’s important to lean on your available resources, here is a cheat sheet on ways to save money on your Microsoft purchases:
Five Ways to Save Money on Your Microsoft Purchases
- Review your licensing agreement annually and use only what is needed! Even if you do not have an ongoing agreement, you should evaluate if one makes sense for your organization. You do not have to be large to garner some of the benefits of an Open Licensing agreement… five licenses will get you started with a plan. Also, evaluate if software assurance make sense to your company at a given time. Do you really need to pay for the ability to upgrade all of your Microsoft licenses to the latest version if you are already upgraded throughout your environment and have no plans to upgrade again in the next few years? Should you just buy OEM licenses for certain products? Lots of questions but an objective third party reseller like Softmart will work with you and assess your situation.
- Know what you currently have. Knowledge is power! Many organizations manage their Microsoft licensing by keeping their old Office CDs on a shelf bundled together with a rubber band. While this is necessary, it is only a small, first step. Managed service companies like Trigon will install a client on your PC that will manage your software licensing and allow you to make more knowledgeable decision regarding your Microsoft licensing.
- http://www.microsoftincentives.com/ - This is a nice site that runs promotions on Microsoft software. It’s definitely worth consulting this site when you are contemplating a purchase. For example, there is currently a $400 rebate if you but Small Business Server 2008. That’s a discount of over 50% just because you conducted a little due diligence. Good for you, I say.
- Are you a non-profit organization? If so, then you should definitely visit the Tech Soup website (http://www.techsoup.org) and get as many licenses that are permitted. Non-profits can pay as low as 10% to 15% of the retail price on licensing in some cases. You need to read the terms and conditions carefully and prove your non-profit status, but this is a small price to pay for the potential savings.
- Leverage MSFT technologies so you are not paying for redundant or overlapping technologies. For example the latest versions of Microsoft Office have the ability to save as PDF files. This may negate the need to purchase a full version of Adobe Acrobat. Also, do you require MapPoint when you may be able to leverage Google Maps?
Let it be known, that Microsoft is not an evil organization as many (mostly competitors) would paint them. There are alternative business solutions like Google Apps, Linux and others on the horizon to keep Microsoft in check to some degree. It also appears that Microsoft founding father, Bill Gates, took some advice from Google to “don’t be evil”. He is obviously very socially conscious generous with his charitable contributions. Microsoft wants your money… or you could end up swimming with the fishes.
Need help with your Microsoft purchasing woes? Let us know and we can get things rolling!