Microsoft touts US$7-per-user monthly pricing for Windows subscription packages

Ask any IT administrator about Microsoft's licensing setup and they'll hurl up a string of four-letter words that would incur an FCC fine if delivered on television.

And Anderson fully expects Apple to follow suit with a similar solution when it's ready. But only Microsoft can bake enterprise controls around who can share what with whom and how into Office itself, where so much work is already getting done, he said.

And now, for considerably more than the cost of a cup of coffee but considerably less than buying each individual piece -- from the operating system to the device management portal to the productivity suite from multiple vendor -- Microsoft can offer the whole shebang for one price.

And it can at the same time streamline the many licensing headaches involved with Windows, especially where virtual desktops are involved.

The move is something that wouldn't have been possible under the old Microsoft. Forget the whole per-user Windows licensing schema: Microsoft's productivity business would have been left behind by Apple's considerable enterprise market share if not for last year's decision to release Office for iOS.

Now, Microsoft has a way to make it easy to use Microsoft all the time, on every device, forever. And with the Enterprise Mobility Management piece, all the fine-grained enterprise controls can come with it.

It's also an implicit statement of recognition that users may not be on a Windows device forever.

When initial details on the Enterprise Cloud Suite were first released, Computerworld reported on the skepticism of analysts that the change would be as good as it seems on the wrapper.

Enterprises have to be careful to read the fine print very, very closely, or finding themselves out of compliance with this seemingly more liberal license.

To be sure, this "one-size-fits-most" entry point to the Microsoft cloud ecosystem is sure to leave some out in the cold -- not everybody wants Microsoft in all aspects of the IT organization, and the ability to pick and choose components of the cloud and mobility strategy is sure to find adherents.

Besides, there's still no official word on who exactly qualifies for this pricing, which actually has been in effect since Dec. 1.

Ultimately, Microsoft's new mobility strategy is a recognition that while it's come late to the market, it's prepared to offer IT organisations the real Coke where before they could only get the close-but-not-quite Pepsi.

"Or maybe it was actually Tab," Anderson quipped.

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