Microsoft will coerce users to upgrade their version of Windows NT by changing license conditions to remove the license for life principle.
It also plans to change what features it bundles with its software as another way of generating more revenue.
These were the claims of a senior Gartner Group analyst this week, warning users that as Microsoft increasingly found itself in competition with earlier versions of its own software, it would encourage them to upgrade - at the same time generating more revenue - by moving to non-perpetual licensing.
Thomas Bittman, analyst at Gartner group, said: "To get users to move to the next release is easier if the [existing] license has run out," said.
Microsoft contracts include contractual terms that allow it to change usage entitlements at will, he noted. Microsoft would also use new packaging strategies to force up the cost of its software.
"Instead of adding new features to existing product packages, Microsoft's new packaging strategy allows for the announcement of newly packaged offerings at higher prices. While there is, usually, no price increase for the base addition, it will cost more to obtain added features that many will need or want," he said.
Companies should expect to pay 50 per cent more per year by 2002 for their Microsoft software as a result of repackaging and license changes, Bittman estimated, despite the upfront price appearing to remain constant.
He said there was a strong likelihood that Microsoft would begin offering non-perpetual licenses next year, but noted that within a few years this alone would add 20 per cent to the total cost of equivalent perpetual licenses.
In an analysis of one 5,000 desktop license for Microsoft Office by eliminating home use, concurrent use and proration of maintenance. The result was a 224 per cent price increase over five years.
Bittman also said Windows 2000 would become fragmented between the different markets Microsoft was pursuing, including 64-bit NT, 32-bit high end, low end and Datacenter NT, consumer NT (codenamed Neptune), embedded NT.
"By 2002 I believe there will be 15 different versions of Windows, eight with different code bases," he said.
This would create a potential version quagmire for users. Not in the respect of ISV support, because all the versions would share a similar code base, but because each version would have different functionality, need different upgrades and leave IT managers with a plethora of service packs and testing.
By 2003, 75 per cent of corporates with more than 5,000 employees will be dealing with four different NT packages, Bittman predicted.
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