Microsoft to charge only one license for dual-core processors

Microsoft Corp. announced this week it will only charge users one license for running its Windows Server products on a dual-core processor.

For example, a company using a two-processor server would have to purchase two licenses from Microsoft but a firm using a single dual-core processor server would only have to buy one license.

Dual-core microprocessors are made up of two different processing units on one chip. The dual-core approach and eventually multi-core approach, is the way Intel plans to increase microprocessor speed rather than continuing down the the single processor path. The next step for Intel would have been a 4GHz chip, said Doug Cooper, country manager for Canada at Intel in Rexdale, Ont., but the company realized it could get better performance from dual-core chips.

Intel Corp. and its competitor, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., have both said they will release dual-core processors in 2005 and Intel couldn’t be happier about Microsoft’s announcement.

“We think the approach that licensing with the microprocessor is the way the industry needs to go [is the right one] and we’re applauding Microsoft for taking that approach early,” Cooper said.

Kevin Hunter, product marketing manager for Windows Server System at Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont., said both the software and hardware industries are moving in a direction to help its users become more efficient. As a result, he said Microsoft does not intend to hinder individuals from taking advantage of newer and better hardware.

“These hardware advances shouldn’t be [negatively] impacting people,” Hunter said.

However, Oracle Corp. has taken the opposite approach and announced it will license per core instead of per processor, so a user who runs a server with a dual core processor would have to purchase two licenses for its Oracle software.

“We don’t have a position with respect to dual-core processor,” said Jacqueline Woods, vice-president of global licensing and pricing strategy at Oracle Corp. “A core is equal to a CPU and all cores are required to be licensed. Therefore you are required to have two processor licenses.”

John Quinn, spokesperson for SAS Canada in Toronto, said SAS’s position is the same as Oracle — the company will charge for two licenses for a dual-core microprocessor.

But one user doesn’t think charging for two licenses for a dual-core microprocessor is unreasonable.

Jim Estill, CEO of EMJ Data Systems Ltd. in Guelph, Ont., thinks it is OK for independent software vendors (ISVs) to charge more money to license software for a dual-core processor. While he doesn’t think the price should have to pay for two licenses, he thinks that if a you are a heavy user of a product, there is nothing wrong with paying a little bit more.

Additionally, he said having to pay more for software licenses would not hold back EMJ from adopting dual-core technology. He said that it’s much easier to increase the speed of a system through a hardware upgrade than by modifying or upgrading software.

Also, Intel’s Cooper doesn’t think software licensing concerns will hold up adoption of dual-core technology in Canada for two reasons. First of all, most Intel-based servers run Microsoft operating systems and Microsoft has already decided to only charge one license for dual-core technology. Secondly, he said that about 70 per cent of Intel-based servers sold in Canada have two or more processors so the market for the technology definitely exists.

— With files from IDG News Service

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