Licence tracker launched as Microsoft deadline looms

As Microsoft users face a key July 31 licensing deadline, a Canadian firm last week launched its LicenseTracker service to help companies take stock of their Microsoft software in preparation for contract negotiations.

          As Microsoft users face a key July 31 licensing deadline, a Canadian firm last week launched its LicenseTracker service to help companies take stock of their Microsoft software in preparation for contract negotiations.

          Through the LicenseTracker service from AssetMetrix in Ottawa, corporate users can inventory all of the Microsoft software running on their desktops, laptops and servers. They can then gain access to internet-based reports that provide details on the product versions being used and on the build numbers and licence keys.

          "They can inventory their entire population literally in hours, no matter how centralised and how big they are," says Paul Bodnoff, president and CEO of AssetMetrix.

          Under Microsoft's old licensing system, many companies didn't keep track of their licences, and as a result, some of them overbought or underbought when the time came for upgrades, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Computerworld last month.

          Now that the company's new Version 6.0 volume licensing programme is taking effect, companies are being advised to get an accurate snapshot of their software assets in order to determine which of the new programs, if any, will make sense for them.

          "It's really never too late to implement some type of asset management," says Alvin Park, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner.

          However, with just 16 days left before the licensing deadline, Park says he's not sure how much the LicenseTracker service can help.

          Rebecca LaBrunerie, product manager of worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft, says she was unfamiliar with the product and thus unable to comment on its merits.

          "We've long said that customers need to understand what software assets they have as the first step to making an informed licensing decision," she says. "But again, I can't comment as to the results generated by a third-party product."

          Users have until July 31 to enrol in Microsoft's new Software Assurance programme, which entitles a company to receive the latest versions of Microsoft products during its contract term. Enrolled companies pay 25% of the volume license fee for server software products and 29% for desktop products on an annual basis.

          Another option open until July 31 is Upgrade Advantage, which moves a company to the current version of a Microsoft software product and "grandfathers" them for Software Assurance at a later date.

          Companies that don't opt for Software Assurance or Upgrade Advantage can simply buy new software licenses, potentially at higher costs, at a later date. Or they can get their Microsoft software licenses as part of a PC hardware purchase.

          The LicenseTracker service costs $US2 per seat through July 31. Customers may then opt to upgrade to a full-service subscription. AssetMetrix's Impact service costs $US3 per seat for a 30-day subscription; its Project service is $US7 per seat for a 90-day subscription; and the Premier service is $US15 per seat for a full-year subscription.

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