Microsoft is attempting to build bridges with the channel by adding benefits to its controversial Software Assurance (SA) licensing package, following channel unrest at the way the scheme was introduced.
The benefits, which come into force today, are in the form of training and support. They are available to existing as well as new SA customers.
Microsoft's UK licensing manager Mark Buckley said: "SA is about helping our customers get more out of their investment in Microsoft technology.
"This includes more assistance and support, training of their users and tools to help them better manage their budget.
"Employees also benefit as they get better purchasing deals and can use the software under the agreement on their home PCs at no charge. Every customer who has an SA agreement will receive these benefits automatically from 1 September."
Dave Simpson, director of sales and marketing at Microsoft VAR Softcat, said that about half of those that have signed an SA licence have reacted positively to the benefits.
A quarter said they were not bothered, but a quarter still felt mildly negative about the licensing.
"We've started telling our customers about the added value and we've closed some substantial business," Simpson said. He added that customers seemed attracted by the home use option.
The real test of whether the additional benefits have worked will come in July 2004, when existing old-style Upgrade Advantage (UA) packages run out.
Simpson said that Softcat had sold a "truckload" of UA licensing packages, but conceded that when the agreements end customers will have to decide whether to move on to SA, or buy full licences next time they buy new software.
"The offerings they have presented are fairly complicated, but it's up to the reseller to untangle that," he said.
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