Microsoft extends Office licence upgrade deadline

ITworld.com |  Operating Systems

Due to customer pressure, Microsoft Corp. has altered its revamped Office XP licensing scheme, giving business users additional time to upgrade their licensing agreements, the company announced Thursday.

When Microsoft launched Office XP in May, it also announced it was to discontinue its former licensing practices by eliminating version upgrades. Users would have until Oct. 1 to upgrade their licensing rights. After Oct. 1, users would have to buy new licenses for Office XP -- at a cost of to US$300 more per user -- if they wanted to have upgrade protection.

The launch of Office XP started the clock running on how long corporations have to extend their old licences, but Microsoft has now extended that deadline until Feb. 28, 2002.

The transition period for the new licensing scheme, which Microsoft calls its Licensing 6.0 programs, has been slightly extended in two ways, as a result of customer requests, Microsoft said in the statement.

Customers with current licenses for recently released products such as Windows 2000 Professional, Office XP, Windows 2000 server and the .Net enterprise servers now have until Feb. 28 to sign up for Microsoft's Software Assurance program -- an extension of one month from the previously announced deadline of Jan. 31.

More significantly, those who need to upgrade licenses for older versions of Office products have the additional five months to pay for what Microsoft is calling the Upgrade Advantage program, Microsoft said. The Upgrade Advantage gives consumers an upgrade to the current license and extends their Software Assurance program for two years, Microsoft said.

While companies using Office 95, 97 and 2000 need to make upgrade decisions before the Feb. 28 deadline, they don't have to actually deploy the product by that date. Under the Software Assurance program users must have a license to upgrade to the current version of the product, now Office XP, or pay significant costs to get that license.

If customers join Upgrade Advantage before Feb. 28, they have to pay a full retail price of $292 per user, per year, and receive the rights to an Office XP Professional upgrade and up to two years of Software Assurance. But after Feb. 28, companies will have to buy new Office XP licenses for $454. The optional Software Assurance is another $131 per user, per year.

In May, Microsoft announced it intended to eliminate version upgrades, instead pushing a variety of non-perpetual licensing agreements, or limited-use contracts, which Microsoft claims will keep users running the latest software versions. The licence upgrade will not be available after the deadline, so corporations are in effect being forced to figure out by Feb. 28 if they want to spend money now on protecting licence upgrades or just upgrade to Office XP altogether.

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