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Microsoft Eyes New Server Licensing Scheme, Apple's Remains Most Beneficial

Microsoft Eyes New Server Licensing Scheme, Apple's Remains Most Beneficial

by , 2:15 AM EST, December 2nd, 2002

One of the largest selling points of Xserve is that Apple, unlike Microsoft's server offerings, does not charge a premium license fee for user-server usage. That policy has no doubt worried Microsoft to no end, especially since many of Microsoft's customers are revolting over license fees.

C|Net is reporting that Microsoft is about to change its licensing policies for the next generation of its server platform, .Net Server 2003. According to the article, titled Microsoft to amend .Net Server licensing, Microsoft intends to offer a new option in its client-access license policies. That new option will allow companies to purchase per-user client-access licenses (CALs), rather than the current per-machine license. There are other changes too. From the C|Net article:

Starting with Windows .Net Server 2003, which is slated for release in April, businesses also will have the option of purchasing CALs per user, rather than just per machine.

Other licensing tweaks to be announced Monday include changes to licensing for terminal services--that is, methods for accessing Windows desktop and server applications through terminal emulation--and access to a Web server over the Internet, a Microsoft representative said.

In other words, companies could purchase licenses for, say, 10 users, and have that work across two or more .Net Server. Currently, CALs have to be purchased for each machine, regardless of the redundancy. This change only effects .Net Server 2003, and the above mentioned terminal access licensing.

The article reports that analysts are mixed over whether or not this is a good thing. Some welcome the new policy because many businesses would save money by operating their servers on a per-use basis. Other analysts see that some businesses would lose out on the new plan because they have several people who use the same computer.

Stop by C|Net and check out the full article.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Dealing with product licenses has never been a lot of fun for either the product vendor or the end users, as Microsoft and Apple are painfully aware. Yet it is necessary for the vendor to maintain control over the products that they sell else they may never make a profit, and profit is what fuels the R&D that gives us the cool stuff we get to play with year after year. So, fair licensing is beneficial to the end user too.

Coming up with a fair license scheme is not always an easy task, however; a company has to balance profit with the customer's willingness and ability to pay. Many believe that Microsoft has been gouging its customers for years with its ever-increasing and ever-more strict fees. It seems that the old adage about only being able to kick a dog so many times before it turns on you is true, and it applies to both sheep and lemmings as well as dogs. Microsoft customers are tired of paying through the nose over and over again.

Apple was smart with its Xserve licensing: you pay one fee up front and then use it to your heart's content. That's one less worry an IT manager has to deal with, and anything that reduces both the cost and worry of running an IT shop is a Good Thing™.

Microsoft's new licensing scheme is a step in the right direction for its customers, but unless Microsoft adopts Apple's way of licensing, which isn't bloody likely, the changes still leave Apple's licensing poised well as an attractive alternative.

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