Microsoft releases Win 2000 pricing

Unexpectedly talkative about pricing, Microsoft has revealed what Windows 2000 will cost users when it ships in February. But the numbers aren't simple.

Unexpectedly talkative about pricing, Microsoft has revealed what Windows 2000 will cost users when it ships in February.

The numbers aren’t simple, with prices depending on which Microsoft product users upgrade from, how many units they buy and whether they are replacing any rival operating systems, such as Novell Inc.’s NetWare or Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris.

Generally, the desktop version of Windows 2000, dubbed Windows 2000 Professional, costs from $US149 to $319; fees for the server version depend on how many users will access it and which server it is. Windows 2000 Server is the base model, and pricing starts at $1,199 at retail. Street prices will be lower. Microsoft hasn’t yet priced the top-end Windows 2000 DataCenter Server.

That Microsoft said anything at all about costs prior to the product’s Feb. 17 release is surprising -- and is likely a move to keep users paying attention to Microsoft, said Eric Klein, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

“There are factors looming ... that may not bode well for Microsoft, including application hosting providers selling software by subscription. That is definitely not how Microsoft traditionally operates,” Klein said. “Microsoft is doing a lot of adjusting right now.”

At least one change in Microsoft’s mind-set can make life simpler for users. People with Windows 95 or 98 on their PCs can buy an upgrade to get to the desktop version of Windows 2000 for $219 per user. Under previous Windows NT pricing, users would have had no discount option for a similar upgrade and would have had to pay the full $319 retail price for the operating system.

But for many corporate users, retail pricing has limited relevance. Kansas City Life Insurance Co. took a long, hard look at engaging in a three-year enterprise license with Microsoft that would have included an upgrade to Windows 2000 for all 700 of its users, said Charles Duffy, senior vice president of operations. Microsoft and the company’s reseller gave a lot of ground to try to win the roughly $500,000 deal, he said.

But Duffy said the price tag was just too high, especially considering that he’s happy with his current setup of mostly Windows 98 clients and NT 4.0 servers.

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