Brits Wary of Vista Licensing Agreement

Dennis Faas's picture

Citing concerns over Microsoft's Office 2007 and Windows Vista licensing terms, Becta, the UK government's agency for education technology has reportedly warned schools against signing licensing agreements, and filed a complaint with the UK's Office of Fair Trading, alleging that Microsoft engages in anticompetitive practices in the academic software license marketplace.

ArsTechnica is reporting that Becta and Microsoft have been in talks over the issue but have not reached an agreement.  In the meantime, Becta is recommending that schools avoid Microsoft's School Agreement subscription licensing program, which covers the licensing for an educational establishment's PCs.

According to Becta, there are some downsides to the Microsoft School Agreement program; Microsoft doesn't provide enough clarity into the buy-out costs if a school decides to get out of the program, concerns that Microsoft's academic subscription setup doesn't allow schools to obtain a perpetual license unless they make a buy-out payment and Becta would like to see Microsoft get rid of its all-or-nothing licensing agreement since all PCs on campus must be part of the program, even those not capable of running Windows Vista or Office 2007.

Becta also cites concerns regarding Windows Vista and Office 2007, believing that Vista's feature set isn't enough to currently justify updating to it and believing that Office 2007 needs stronger support for the ODF format used by, as well as better interoperability with Microsoft Works.

Microsoft receives a steady stream of revenue over a product's lifecycle from their subscription licensing programs. With the elongated release schedule between Windows XP and Windows Vista, some licensees have been doubting the value of Microsoft's licensing programs. Becta has been encouraging schools already signed up for Microsoft's School Agreement program to consider their renewal and buyout options.

Last summer Forrester Research released a report questioning the value of Microsoft's Software Assurance subscription licensing program that found that it may cost companies significantly more money over a four-year period. It took over five years after Windows XP was released before Microsoft released Windows Vista.

As I've said a few times in the past, Microsoft needs to take a long hard look at their licensing agreements, which have grown exceeding egregious since the release of Windows Vista.

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