Few Microsoft customers enrolled in Upgrade Advantage (UA), the company's old software maintenance programme, will move to its newer Software Assurance (SA) package, analyst Meta Group has predicted.
Meta Group analyst Kurt Schlegel said the gap between major Windows releases had grown too long for users - often four years, and five in the case of SQL Server.
"Our research indicates few organisations currently enrolled in UA will roll into SA," he said in a statement.
But the analyst group predicts a 50 to 65 per cent renewal rate for customers enrolled in Microsoft's no-frills Enterprise Agreement (EA), because these organisations receive larger discounts as a reward for standardising across three product pools.
However, Sunny Charlebois, Microsoft's product manager for worldwide licensing and pricing, said: "Microsoft expects that its end-of-life policies and strong product cycle will spur a 10 to 30 per cent adoption of [SA] from our previous [UA] customers."
Microsoft planned to drop UA when SA was introduced, although it subsequently extended the programme to summer 2002.
SA has since had added extras such as free home licensing, assistance, support and training.
But the bargaining position of corporate customers is strong at the moment, according to the analyst. "Microsoft's need to have organisations enrolled in a software maintenance programme [for example EA] provides negotiating leverage for large customers," said Meta Group.
"Global 2000 organisations can expect Microsoft to make certain concessions during contract negotiations. However, unless the renewal terms make financial sense, most organisations should consider not renewing software maintenance."
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