Microsoft maps the midmarket

Microsoft Corp. last month unwrapped a Windows software and licensing promotion aimed at making it easier for midmarket companies to implement basic Microsoft infrastructure software. The new software bundle, called the Windows Server System Offer for Midsized Companies, was debuted at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2005, held in Minneapolis this month.

Also at the show, Microsoft unveiled a new version of its Open License Program aimed at midmarket customers, said John Lauer, vice-president of midmarket in the small, midmarket and partner solutions business at Microsoft.

Lauer said the changes would “resonate” with customers in this space, which Microsoft defines as those with between 50 and 1,000 employees. Steven Van Roekel, Microsoft’s director of midmarket solutions for Windows Server, acknowledged that Microsoft’s software licensing leaves midmarket customers “in the vortex” where they end up paying more than enterprise customers and small business customers for the Microsoft infrastructure they need to run their businesses.

“What tends to happen with the midmarket is [the companies] aren’t large enough to take advantage of the preferential enterprise pricing, but they can’t take advantage of small business pricing,” he said. Promotions like the new Windows Server System Offer are designed to alleviate some of those licensing woes, Van Roekel said.

The new promotion runs for a year and includes three copies of Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, one copy of Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition, one copy of Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 Workgroup Edition, and 50 client access licenses (CALs) each for Windows Server and Exchange Server, Van Roekel said. The bundle is priced at about US$6,400, a 20 per cent discount from Microsoft’s standard Open License Program pricing of US$7,700, he said.

Customers also can purchase more combined CALs for Windows and Exchange for about US$76 each during the promotion, which is also 20 per cent off the regular price of US$95, Van Roekel said. Companies must have a CAL for each user that is connected to the servers.

Microsoft has three main software licensing programs: Open, Select and Enterprise Agreement, Lauer said. Enterprise Agreements are targeted at high-end customers with the largest volume requirements; Select licenses allow customers with 250 or more PCs to customize their software purchases with lower-volume requirements than the Enterprise level; and Open licenses offer customers with five or more PCs the lowest number of licensing requirements, along with volume discounts.

Microsoft said that customers and partners have been requesting a new Windows Server System SKU for midmarket customers because the licensing for Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS) leaves a lot of them out, as it limits the number of computers connected to it to 75, Van Roekel said.

Ric Opal, vice-president of Microsoft partner Peters & Associates, an Elmhurst, Ill.-based consulting firm, said the promotion is a “simpler purchase” for the midmarket, and will save Microsoft partners time when negotiating deals with these customers.

With the new promotion, “I don’t have to have sales people focused on versioning and number of clients and that sort of thing,” he said. “I don’t have to navigate through different licensing offerings if I can set them up with this midmarket offer.”

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