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Microsoft Dangling Upgrade Incentives

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January 06, 2010

Microsoft Dangling Upgrade Incentives

By Lance Whitney, Journalist, IT Consultant, Web Developer

Is your company still running Windows XP and Office 2003 or XP? If so, Microsoft (News - Alert) is eager to get you to upgrade to Windows 7 and Office 2007. So much so that the folks in Redmond are offering new Windows and Office discounts to small and medium sized businesses to nudge them along the upgrade path.

At the start of the new year, Microsoft unveiled changes to its Open Value Subscription program, as discussed in the company's recent SMB Community blog. The program now offers 50 percent off the first-year subscription cost of upgrading each license from the previous two versions of Windows and Office to the current versions. This means you'd shave half off the normal first-year price of jumping from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 and from Office 2003 or XP to Office 2007 for each of your users. The new offer is good worldwide until June 30, 2010. So when Office 2010 debuts in the first half of this year, you'll save 50 percent off an upgrade from Office 2007 or 2003.
Previously, the program's Up-to-Date discount only covered the prior version of Windows or Office. You'd qualify for the discount if you upgraded from Vista to Windows 7, but not if you upgraded from XP. And with Office, you'd grab the discount price by moving from Office 2003 to Office 2007 but not from Office XP. By now offering discounts on the prior two versions, Microsoft hopes to convince stragglers running older software to upgrade this year.
The Open Value Subscription program is similar to Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement except the OVS is geared more toward SMBs, while the Enterprise Agreement is directed toward larger companies. But the concept is similar. The OVS lets you subscribe to the Microsoft software you want by paying an annual fee over a certain period of time. You can modify the number of licenses and the products you require as your needs change. The OVS also includes Software Assurance, which throws in additional benefits. You can grab a free automatic upgrade to Office 2010 when it debuts and you receive an Employee Purchase Program that grants discounts to employees who want to buy any of the software for home use.
You qualify for the Windows 7 Professional discount if you have OEM, retail, or volume licenses for Windows Vista Business or Windows XP Professional. And you qualify for the Microsoft Office 2007 Professional savings if you run Office 2003 Professional or Office XP Professional. Once Office 2010 launches, you'll qualify for the upgrade discount if you have Office Professional Plus 2007 or Office 2003 Professional.
As one example cited in the blog, the discount means you'd pay $35 for a Windows 7 upgrade an/or $91 for an Office 2007 upgrade in the first year of the subscription and also receive the benefits of the Software Assurance program.
So is this a good deal? It really depends on the size of your company and the number of Microsoft products and licenses you use. At my former company, we subscribed to Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement as we were a large corporation and used MS products quite heavily. Besides the overall subscription cost, the Software Assurance was a key benefit as it qualified us for free upgrades to the latest versions depending on the length and timing of our agreement.
Any SMB that uses Windows, Office, and other Microsoft products heavily should consider the Open Value Subscription program. With the new discounts, it could definitely save you some money in the long run.

Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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