13-May-01 - Microsoft Tightens the $crews

Forced upgrades, major price increases and leased software face users of Microsoft Office.

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American business has enthusiastically handed Microsoft total monopoly over its office productivity software. The wisdom of handing control to so "ethically challenged" a company is simply beyond comment, but it's been done. Now it's time to pay the piper. Microsoft has announced a new licensing plan, Software Assurance.

Simply stated, analysts estimate American businesses will pay Microsoft $1.7 Billion more in the first year of the new licensing plans than would have been paid under the current plans. This does not count costs for new computers and the time and disruption to do the massive upgrades required just to participate in the programs.

The new license programs start on 1 October 2001, and the old programs will no longer be available. To participate in the new programs all Microsoft products must already be upgraded to the current version. That means all computers must be upgraded and running Windows 2000 and Office XP by October first. New computers will be required in many cases.

Any company not fully upgraded by 1 October 2001 will have to buy new full copies of Windows 2000 and Office XP at the full price to qualify for the license plans. They will not be eligible for any upgrades regardless of what programs they are in today.

These new plans are cost equivalent to upgrading Microsoft Office every two years. Most companies are currently on a 4 to 5 year upgrade cycle. Microsoft is also offering a lease plan. Although nobody wants it today, Microsoft says up to 50% of businesses will be on lease in a few years, so they must be planning "incentives".

Now don't take our word for all this - here are articles from the mainstream news media that reference and link the big name analyst firms.

You say you're a small business and don't have direct licenses so this doesn't affect you? Don't worry, your time is coming. When they force you to .NET you'll be renting your software and your own business data by the month.

- Analysis -

Disclaimer: Automation Access does not use any Microsoft software in our business or in maintaining this Web site.

This is just the beginning, folks. Microsoft's revenue needs increase by double digits every year and they are going to have to make up for a multi-billion planned loss starting up their XBox game console. The only sane course of action is to start moving away from Microsoft now, and do it as rapidly as possible. While this is actually practical for a great many businesses, we expect very few will have the courage to do so. Microsoft offers the path of least resistance.

For those of you who do have the courage, you can start by reading our Linux articles, since Linux is the most substantial alternative at this time. For some businesses, IBM's OS/2 is a viable option (that's what we use here). The Apple Macintosh is an option, but that's trading a monopoly for an even more tightly controlled environment.

  • Should Your Business Use Linux? - an introduction to the concept.
  • Linux - much more detail on how Linux it is used.
  • Some Companies Using Linux - examples of companies using Linux for major systems.
  • OS/2 - the most elegant solution.

    - Andrew Grygus

  • ©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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