Channel players are confident they can persuade firms to renew Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) maintenance agreements, despite predictions that customers will drive a hard bargain.
In the UK, SA replaced Microsoft's previous schemes, including Upgrade Advantage (UA), in summer 2002. Many customers agreed to a two-year deal.
Julie Giera, vice-president of analyst Forrester, said now is a good time to negotiate with Microsoft. "The closer you get to Microsoft's year end in June the better the concession," she said.
However, UK distributors said they had seen a large number of customers already beginning to renew. Richard Hales, general manager at distributor Computer 2000's software business, said feedback on SA was mostly positive.
"But we are still in the phase of telling people about SA. A lot was sold in July two years ago, so they won't renew until (July)," he said.
Mark Johnson, European general manager software at Ideal, said: "It's early days but we're positive. April is looking good."
Sunny Charlebois, Microsoft's product manager for worldwide licensing, said: "End-of-life policies and a strong product cycle will spur a 10 to 30 per cent adoption of (SA) by our UA customers."
But she admitted many customers are still not aware of the benefits of SA. "When benefits are explained customers respond more positively. Our channel partners play an important advisory role," she said.
But Nick King, chief executive of reseller Apex, was sceptical. "We're seeing very little push from the distributor or vendor (for SA renewal)," he said.
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