- If you can’t beat ‘em
- Howard’s Way
- If you can’t beat ‘em
It’s all good news for Microsoft customers. First the New York Times broke the story of an internal memo instructing managers world wide to discount products to government agencies if it looked like they were swaying to Linux. In some cases the discount could be as high as 100% if it looked like Microsoft would lose the deal. Microsoft’s retort – Linux is free and Sun gives Star Office away for nothing. Why can’t we? Let’s hope our government departments, which are on the verge of signing off a bulk software deal with Microsoft can take advantage of this although the New Zealand government has hardly kept Microsoft at arm’s length. New Zealand politicians seem to think Microsoft is IT and are only dimly aware of any alternatives, despite a recent report on Linux.
But Microsoft isn’t just working on its state sector customers. This week it announced changes to its corporate customer licensing to sweeten what was originally a bitter pill. How software companies choose to license their products can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bill for business customers.
When Microsoft introduced its Software Assurance scheme (or programme as they’d prefer us to call it) two years ago it copped a lot of flak. Under Software Assurance business users pay an up-front fee every two years in return to upgrade to whatever future versions are released during that period. To be fair to Microsoft, many of the big iron software vendors had done it for years but many Microsoft customers had grown up with the company and the model of incorporating 25% maintenance into the upfront cost was a rude awakening. Customers also objected to the original and abrupt deadlines for the changes, forcing Microsoft to twice push back Software Assurance’s launch date. An added complication for Microsoft was that all this was happening at a time when the profile of Linux began to grow. At first Microsoft feigned nonchalance about Linux, but now it acknowledges it has to lift its game. It has announced that from September companies won’t have to pay for extra licences for staff using MS Office from home. It will also throw in some free online training and telephone support. Even if you don’t use Linux and never intend to, it has managed to do what no commercial rival has done. Force Microsoft to make concessions to its customers.
- Howard’s Way
Could New Zealand have three mobile network operators? TelstraClear’s arrangement for reselling Vodafone’s network to offer mobile services runs out in 15 months’ time and the Aussie-owned telco has put out an RFI for the building of its own mobile network.
TelstraClear boss Rosemary Howard says its just an option but the company would like to offer a full range of services. For example, TelstraClear is spending about $14 million to build a wireless broadband network to give businesses in Auckland and the regions high-speed internet and telephony. While the cost of building an entire mobile network would be much higher, TelstraClear could build a network covering only 10% of the population and take advantage of Telecommunications Act provisions that allow it to roam on the networks of rivals and base its equipment on their cell sites. Another factor is that TelstraClear already owns radio spectrum capable of supporting a third generation service. An alternative would be to use Telecom’s mobile network.
An unworried Vodafone boss Tim Miles says there’s still plenty of time to go. He says even if it lost TelstraClear, it doesn’t make a huge amount of money from it anyway. On Wednesday Vodafone announced financial results which show it has taken the lead from Telecom and is on track to break the $1 billion revenue mark by 2005.