Microsoft has insisted that it is not forcing customers over to Office 365 by making on-premise Office 2013 licences non-transferable between machines.
Last week, SMB resellers laid into the vendor and accused it of forcing their customers to buy the subscription-based Office 365 product, which launched for businesses yesterday. The VARs claimed the move left their smaller customers no choice but to move to the cloud, which they believe will end up being more expensive for SMBs in the long run.
Today, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the worldwide partner group Jon Roskill defended the licensing terms and said that SMBs – which have accounted for 90 per cent of its sales so far – have been impressed with the low entry costs for Office 365.
Speaking to CRN, Roskill said: "We are not forcing anybody to go one way or another; we continue to offer Office packages with perpetual licences. We are seeing SMBs excited about the lower entry cost available on the subscription model... [but] it is not for everyone."
Roskill said some Office 365 SKUs allow the product to be licensed on up to five machines with the ability to be transferable.
He added that individual access provided by the cloud-based Office 365 suite is more important than which device the product is on.
He said: "If you look at, for instance, the [Office 365] Home SKU, I would say it is our most flexible licensing we have ever done. The thing that is important is more the individual being able to access the information, rather than the particular device it is on.
"The most important thing is having a licensing model which recognises that lifestyle shift. You are licensing a subscription to an individual to then use across a variety of devices and so tying to a particular device just does not make sense in this new world."
When questioned on why it is important to recognise multiple device licensing on the cloud model but not on perpetual licences, Roskill said: "In terms of what we are doing with [on-premise], non-subscription Office, we offer very generous terms around the installations that you are allowed to make on the Office Home SKU.
"I would say I do not think it is something for people to get too hung up about."
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