New Software Assurance Enhancements Now Available for Microsoft Customers

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 10, 2003 — To help businesses effectively compete in today’s fast-paced corporate environment, Microsoft is honing ways for companies to manage software and technology assets in the most cost-effective manner possible.

In the past year, retooling the company’s volume licensing program has been a top priority. After speaking with over 2,500 customers, the company has rolled out key enhancements to the Software Assurance program it launched in May 2001. These additions to Software Assurance are designed to provide all business customers that purchase Software Assurance with resources — including training, support, and deployment and management tools — to help use Microsoft software efficiently. These new features represent Microsoft’s commitment to add value to its volume licensing programs by rolling out a package of benefits to existing customers.

The new features, which vary by licensing program, by product and by region, include: employee home-use rights for Microsoft Office System products; access to a wide variety of e-learning resources; vouchers for employees to attend training courses at certified technical education centers run by Microsoft partners; access to Web-based technical support resources; and phone-based technical support available during regular business hours. Microsoft will provide these benefits at no additional charge for Software Assurance customers.

“Now Software Assurance customers have more than a maintenance agreement with Microsoft,”
says Microsoft’s Director of Marketing and Readiness for the World Wide Licensing and Pricing group, Cori Hartje.
“They have a partnership that helps increase end-user and IT-staff productivity through training, support, and, overall, a more manageable licensing environment.”

As part of Microsoft’s efforts to act on customer feedback, Microsoft has recently introduced the new Step-Up program, designed to add even more value to Software Assurance. The Step-Up program provides customers with the increased flexibility they asked of Microsoft by allowing customers with Software Assurance attached to any standard edition of a Microsoft server product to upgrade to the enterprise editions by paying the price differential. Office 2003 and Project 2003 also have this Step-Up option.

Says Hartje,
“We realize that it’s important for us to listen to our customers and take their feedback about how our licensing programs can be improved. That’s why we will continue to add value to Software Assurance over time, and why we are striving to be flexible with our licensing programs.”

Julie Giera, Vice President and Research Fellow at Forrester Research, says Microsoft’s recent efforts should encourage customers to take another look at the company’s Software Assurance program.

“Microsoft has added features and functions to Software Assurance that will not only deliver value to IT, but should deliver value to the business units within the enterprise,”
Giera says.
“With these changes, Microsoft has raised the bar for its competitors, and redefined what customers should expect in software maintenance.”

All the benefits being built into Software Assurance can mean a significant amount of cost savings for customers. Says Hartje,
“We want our customers to be successful, and will continue to seek ways we can improve our relationship with them through our products, our licensing and our support offerings.”

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