Microsoft Adds Eight Benefits and Enhancements to the Software Assurance Maintenance Offering

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 15, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it will add and enhance benefits to its maintenance offering, Software Assurance (SA). The new benefits, scheduled to be available to customers in March 2006, demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to listen to customer feedback and extend the value of SA beyond that of a typical maintenance offering, which includes only support and upgrades, to a more comprehensive offering that helps ensure customers have access to support, new version rights, technology and comprehensive resources throughout the life of their software.

“We’re invested in making Software Assurance a quality program that customers can rely on at every phase of maintaining their software,” said Brent Callinicos, corporate vice president of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft. “In addition to the benefits customers receive today, each of the new benefits is designed to help customers access support, services and technology from Microsoft and our Microsoft Certified Partners. Organizations and their IT professionals can choose to use the benefits when planning, deploying, managing or upgrading their software with greater confidence and peace of mind.”

Software Assurance now includes 18 benefits across five phases of the software life cycle: planning, deployment, usage, maintenance and transition. Several new and significantly enhanced benefits will further help customers stay connected with Microsoft for support assistance and take advantage of services that help assess business value, deploy Microsoft® Office applications and the Microsoft Windows® operating system, train IT professionals, and better integrate the capabilities of the Windows platform.


Microsoft continues to offer upgrades to new versions of licensed software released during the term of the agreement and the ability to spread payments annually. These two important benefits help customers deploy the latest technology when they want to, budget more effectively to reduce costs and shorten business procurement timelines.


The following two new benefits are designed to alert customers to the availability of design planning services for their IT teams and help enable them to use them:

  • Desktop Deployment Planning Services provide Select and Enterprise Agreement customers that have Software Assurance with services delivered either on site or remotely by experts from Microsoft Certified Partners or by Microsoft Consulting Services. These one- to 10-day engagements are designed to improve customers’ understanding of the business value of upgrading to the latest versions of Microsoft Windows and Office and the cost of migrating their environment. The consultants will develop a high-level desktop deployment plan and show customers the latest tools, technologies and best practices for deployment to reduce the total cost of ownership of the desktop.

  • Information Work Solution Services provide Open Value customers with predefined service offerings developed by Microsoft and delivered by Microsoft Certified Partners to help them get even more value from their investments in the Microsoft Office system. The one-day Information Work Discovery Workshop helps business people develop a prioritized list of high-impact projects, while the two-day Information Work Architecture Design Session helps IT specialists and technical decision-makers understand the architecture required to implement those solutions.

  • Windows Preinstallation Environment is an existing benefit that offers a tool which IT staff can use to build custom solutions that help speed up deployment through automation, which can reduce the time and effort needed to keep desktops updated.


Two new benefits and one enhancement available next year will help enable customers to take advantage of the latest technology and build staff skills for better technology deployment, migration and management.

  • Windows Vista™ Enterprise is available exclusively as a benefit of Software Assurance and is designed to help midsize and larger organizations significantly lower IT costs and improve IT efficiency. Windows Vista Enterprise includes Full Volume Encryption, which helps enhance the protection of sensitive data. It also supports advanced application compatibility scenarios with Virtual PC Express by enabling customers to run legacy applications in a virtual machine. Virtual PC Express will be available for customers to begin using before the release of Windows Vista Enterprise Edition.

Out of the box, Windows Vista can dramatically reduce the number of corporate images an IT professional needs to manage by allowing a single system image to span multiple PC configurations and form factors. Windows Vista Enterprise takes that one step further by including all Windows languages for integration into a single worldwide system image at no additional cost, helping speed up and lower the cost of global deployments.

  • Extended Training continues to be a benefit highly valued by customers that want to increase the skills and expertise of their IT professionals on the latest technology, at no additional cost. This benefit will continue to be available, and now SA customers that have at least 30,000 Microsoft Office or Windows client licenses will receive an additional number of training vouchers that can be used for training from a Microsoft Certified Partner for Learning Solutions.

The following are the existing benefits of the Use phase of the software life cycle:

  • The Microsoft eLearning Program provides customers with self-paced, interactive desktop courses.

  • The Home Use Program gives employees access to one additional license per each Office license the employer holds for select Microsoft Office programs to install and use on a home computer.

  • The Employee Purchase Program allows organizations to offer employees significant discounts on retail prices for Microsoft’s most popular productivity and consumer products.

  • The Enterprise Source License Program gives customers with at least 1,500 licensed desktops access to Microsoft Windows source code for internal development and support.


This important new support services enhancement was made based on customer feedback:

  • 24×7 Problem Resolution Support. Customers can receive 24×7 phone support incidents for business-critical outages for all products eligible for Software Assurance benefits, including all server editions and Microsoft Windows-based and Microsoft Office applications. In addition, Software Assurance customers with Microsoft Services Premier Support contracts can now transfer their phone incidents earned through Software Assurance for Premier Problem Resolution incidents, which delivers a higher level of support service such as critical situation management and the personalized support relationship with a Technical Account Manager. The unlimited Web support for servers covered by Software Assurance, available today for Enterprise and Select customers, will be extended to Open Value customers.

The following existing benefits and tools continue to help enable customers to run their systems efficiently and more reliably:

  • TechNet Plus makes SA customers eligible for TechNet Managed Newsgroup user IDs per server license, as well as access to over 100 Managed Newsgroups. The TechNet Plus subscription media (one per enrollment) provides access to additional premium TechNet Plus benefits.

  • Corporate Error Reporting provides access to applications to monitor and review error information to better manage deployment of fixes and resolutions, and control reports sent to Microsoft.

  • “Cold” Backups for Disaster Recovery provides complimentary “Cold” backup server licenses for each server enrolled in SA for the purpose of disaster recovery.


Three new benefits, one already implemented in July 2005, were designed to assist customers in managing their software transitions.

  • Extended Lifecycle Hotfix Support (available since July 2005) allows Software Assurance customers with Premier or Essential Support agreements to sign an Extended Hotfix Support Agreement if and when they need a hotfix, increasing peace of mind and reducing support cost. Annual fees are now included as part of the Software Assurance benefit, and there is no requirement to sign up within a 90-day period of a product’s transition to Extended Support. Covered products include Microsoft Office Professional, Microsoft Windows Client Operating System, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), Microsoft SQL Server™, Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Windows Server™.

  • Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (formerly code-named “Eiger”). For enterprise customers concerned with security and manageability of legacy PCs running legacy operating systems, but that are not in a position to replace those PCs, Microsoft is introducing Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs as an exclusive benefit to SA customers. Based on Windows XP Embedded with Service Pack 2, Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs is designed to provide a bridge solution that enables customers to get additional life out of legacy PCs while reducing security risks and improving manageability as well as providing an easy upgrade path to new PC hardware running either Windows XP or Windows Vista.

  • Enterprise Edition Step-Up License helps provide SA customers with the ability to achieve significant cost savings by migrating from the standard edition of a select list of products to the enterprise edition without having to purchase a new license, paying only the difference and maintaining their current SA coverage.

Company executives, partners and customers will announce the new SA benefits in a global webcast. Several analysts, including Julie Giera, vice president of Forrester Research Inc., will discuss how the latest set of enhancements demonstrates a continued follow-through on the commitment Microsoft made when it introduced Software Assurance several years ago and built in new benefits that addressed each area of the software life cycle. Customers can register for the event at

Software Assurance Availability

The new Software Assurance benefits and enhancements are scheduled to be available in March 2006, with the exception of Extended Lifecycle Hotfix Support, which became available in July 2005, and Windows Vista Enterprise, which will be available when the Windows Vista product line is released in fall 2006.

About Software Assurance

Software Assurance is a maintenance program that helps customers plan, deploy, manage and transition between software solutions with a comprehensive combination of support, services and technology resources. More information about Microsoft Software Assurance can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows Vista and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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