Windows users due to renew Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) licensing packages should negotiate for discounts before the end of June, according to analyst Forrester Research.
Many customers are due to renew their licences between now and July as initial Software Assurance contracts draw to a close. Licensing 6.0 volume was introduced into the UK in spring 2002, with many users signing two-year-plus deals that conclude on 31 July 2004.
"There has never been a better time to negotiate with Microsoft," said Julie Giera, vice president of Forrester.
But she advised users to plan their negotiation strategies and warned that waiting until July to make a deal might not be the best tactic, as Microsoft's financial year-end was at the end of June.
"The closer you get to [Microsoft's] year-end the better the concession," she said.
Users are frustrated at maintenance and support fees, said Forrester. And the delay to next year of the release of SQL Server 'Yukon' was another indicator of the limitations of SA, Giera added.
But Sunny Charlebois, Microsoft's worldwide licensing and pricing product manager, told vnunet.com that many customers were unaware of the benefits of SA, and responded more positively when it was explained to them.
Charlebois pointed out that renewals were in line with Microsoft's expectations, and said: "We highly recommend organisations do the business case analysis." There is a 15 per cent promotional discount on some licensing in Europe, she added.
Last month, research conducted by Forrester covering 140 businesses of all sizes found that 60 per cent are moving to adopt some open source, with 53 per cent of these moving from Windows.
"Even those not moving to open source express concern about [Windows] support," said Forrester's Giera.
John Hanby, chief executive of IT executive forum CIO Connect, commented: "Open source is becoming a little more strategic. Taken with the [Microsoft] glitches there is an issue there."
He suggested that the vast majority of his members would be staying with Microsoft programmes, although he added: "I wouldn't see anyone missing the opportunity to get a discount."
Forrester estimates Microsoft's potential revenue from renewals at £2.78bn.
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