REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 19, 2007 – As customers invest in Microsoft’s latest technologies and obtain new products like Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the company seeks to make it easier for customers to cut costs, determine licensing needs and deploy their solutions.
As part of Microsoft’s overall commitment to offer its industry partners and customers more choice and flexibility, the company is enhancing its suite of customer tools by adding more features to the Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor (MPLA), the Forrester Software Assurance ROI Tool and broadening its Microsoft License Statement (MLS) to new customers. In addition, Microsoft is giving maintenance customers more choice with their eLearning solutions.
To get a better sense of why Microsoft is designing these tools for customers, PressPass spoke with Joe Matz, vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Licensing and Pricing Group.
Joe Matz, Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and Pricing Group
PressPass: Why is Microsoft focused on making enhancements to this suite of licensing tools?
Matz: Our goal has always been to offer agreements tailored to meet specific customer needs, particularly the small business and midsize market. Geared toward organizational size and purchasing power, our volume licensing programs provide simple, flexible and affordable options that enable customers to easily acquire their licenses.
With the release of several key new products, like Windows Vista and the 2007 Office System, we saw an opportunity to enrich our tools even further and make it simpler for people to research, budget and purchase these new products to quickly implement these solutions once their purchasing decisions have been made.
PressPass: Can you tell us a bit more about the Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor and what improvements are being made to it?
Matz: Initially launched in November 2005, the MPLA was developed in response to direct customer feedback requesting information, clarity and transparency related to Microsoft licensing and pricing options. This tool works by providing comparisons of each volume-licensing program and guidance through a series of questions, similar to other online wizards. It then produces a downloadable report and estimated retail price quote, as well as a financing quote from Microsoft Financing, offered in Microsoft Office Word or Excel format. It guides users through a step-by-step process that allows them to choose products and solutions based on their unique needs, and then selects the best-fit licensing program.
The tool continues to be refined to provide detailed product information about entire IT solutions and functionality so that customers and partners can learn about the products and various licensing options without having to know a myriad of details beforehand. There are links to product trials and customers can build their queries by solutions that are mapped to our Infrastructure Optimization Model, such as Business Intelligence, or Enterprise Content Management.
We’re also expanding the amount of Microsoft Dynamics product-related information provided in the tool. These products automate and streamline financial, customer relationship and supply chain processes in a way that helps drive business success. The additional information does not include pricing, but will link to our network of Dynamics partners to help customers gain a more complete Dynamics solution quickly and allow more value-added follow-up later in the process.
And our ability to reach all of our customers is growing since we just expanded MPLA. We’ve added 11 more languages, including Swedish, Dutch, Romanian and traditional Chinese.
We’re also introducing a new tool, which will eventually link and leverage the MPLA infrastructure and configuration rules to extend the functionality of both tools. The Microsoft License Statement enables customers to see how many purchases they’ve made from Microsoft through volume licensing and view how many licenses they have for infrastructure, how many upgrades they need to buy, et-cetera. This License Statement is an inventory sheet of sorts and until now, has only been available by customer invitation only.
PressPass: What is the Forrester ROI tool, and what enhancements have you made to that?
Matz: After studying the benefits of the Microsoft Software Assurance program, Forrester Research developed this business case analysis tool that enables Microsoft sales and channel partners to help customers understand the total business value Software Assurance may bring to their organizations.
Training vouchers, the Home Use Program, and eLearning are just some of the benefits that customers are deploying and getting value from. However, we also rolled out several other Software Assurance benefits to customers worldwide in March 2006 such as Desktop Packaged Services, 24×7 Problem Resolution Support. In November 2006, we also made available Windows Vista Enterprise as a Software Assurance benefit. We recognize that technology is big for our maintenance customers. Additionally, we also launched the new Desktop Optimization Pack in January. This dynamic desktop solution includes some great new technology like SoftGrid that helps our customers manage and control their desktops while reducing application deployment costs. This offering is only available to Software Assurance customers as an add-on subscription license.
So, as our customers are looking to see if they should add maintenance, we want them to see the potential ROI they can achieve with this tool; which is why it has been enhanced to include all the new benefits we recently announced.
PressPass: How do eLearning courses factor into the enhanced licensing benefits you’re announcing today?
Matz: Microsoft Software Assurance features select E-Learning courses. Previously, they had been part of physical media, like a CD, and now customers will consume E-Learning content from a Microsoft hosted online service. This service will not only provide content, but also give uses additional services to improve their learning experience.
Microsoft eLearning courses are guided learning experiences with interactive features, including user-selected learning style, assessments, and simulations, hands-on labs for practice, audio and multimedia. It is an excellent way for organizations to learn to deploy and use new technology, like Windows Vista, which will be available in up to 16 languages. ELearning helps customers maximize their software investment by lowering training costs, preparing IT professionals for deployments and preparing end users for deployments.
PressPass: What is the Microsoft License Statement?
The Microsoft License Statement is a new tool for customers that provides them with a comprehensive view of their volume-licensing status with Microsoft in a single easy-to-use report. We often hear that customers struggle to understand what licenses they have purchased from Microsoft through volume licensing agreements. As part of our larger company wide effort to help customers practice better Software Asset Management (SAM) we created this tool to enable customers to see how many volume licensing purchases they’ve made from Microsoft and view how many licenses they have for their infrastructure, how many upgrades they need to buy, et cetera. This License Statement is an inventory sheet of sorts and up until now, has not been broadly available. Our long term goal is to make this resource available to all volume licensing customers to help them get the most out of their existing licenses. Eventually the proof of concept behind this tool will also be linked into the MPLA.
PressPass: How do these latest changes serve to build on previous improvements?
Matz: The Licensing group has crossed quite a few things off of its to-do list over the last two years. We’ve reduced the complexity of our Enterprise Agreements so that they comprise 44 pages rather than the 214 pages they used to be. We’ve also reduced our Product Use Rights document from 104 pages to 44. In addition, we’ve reduced the number of licensing models we offer from 70 to a total of 9. We’ve enhanced our Software Assurance maintenance offering with a package of over 18 unique benefits and evolved our licensing policies to reflect how customers want to use our software with new technologies such as multicore processors and server and desktop virtualization.
PressPass: Can we expect more from Microsoft to help customers easily get the solutions they need?
Matz: Yes, we are offering customers more products and solutions than ever with vast improvements. It is definitely the time to invest. We want to respond to how customers are buying and make sure the right balance of choice and flexibility is available, without adding more complexity. Customer involvement and feedback is what drives us, and we will continue to evolve our existing offerings through Volume Licensing to make sure customers can use our software.