I hate to complain but…

February 27, 2008 at 01:18 (Uncategorized) (, , , )

The recent string of posts from Eric Ligman regarding how “little” you can get software for per day are starting to bug me.

For example:

http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/02/26/7899994.aspx
http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/02/25/7894384.aspx
http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/02/18/7775827.aspx


Notice how each one has *’s next to the amounts? That’s because as hard as Eric and Microsoft try to come out with simpler licensing models, they just can’t. Simple is saying you can have Office for $X.XX dollars, no strings, no conditions. $X.XX123 is not simple.

1 You have buy company-wide, even if you don’t want to install the product on each machine

2 You have to buy another license even if a machine already has one, but it’s okay because you get 50% off…oh and this price is with that 50% off already, hence the *

3 You still have to pay annually, not daily, so multiply my numbers by 365. And these newer lower numbers, they are for the rest of your business’ life, you’re only leasing the software. So multiply them times how many years you think you’ll be in business.

4 That copy of Windows, good news: it doesn’t carry the same restrictions as OEM, so you can transfer it to different machines. Bad news: this copy of Windows has almost no value to the average company because it is an Upgrade Only license. You’d think you can buy a new machine without an operating system and transfer this license to it, but you can’t. You may as well have bought an OEM because it would have cost less, and you have to re-buy the operating system with a new machine anyway.

I’ve had a string of discussions recently about software pricing and quotes. I try to keep things simple in my recommendations and only offer one or two options that I feel are best fits for the company. But inevitably, the quotes aren’t accepted at face value, the client wants to reason through what common sense says ought to be cheaper options. Then I have to respond that the quote has strings attached like the examples above and you don’t get any savings at all, sometimes spending more. A 15 minute proposal turns into a 2 hour discussion on pricing options.

The “Small Business Desktop” platform isn’t a bad deal. For one decent price you get a Windows license, Office, and the SBS CAL, and the Software Assurance benefits, which can be worthwhile if new versions are in the queue. So I’ve tried to suggest this a few times:

Daniel: “So here’s the price for all three of these licenses, and even though you may not need the Windows licenses for every machine, the price is still good and it makes a lot of these illegally installed copies of Windows/Office legitimate.”

Client: “Okay, let’s just get it for these 10 machines, and we’ll leave these other 5 machines running XP/Office 2003.”

Daniel: “I’d like to do that, but this is a company-wide license only, if we’re going to buy it, we have to buy it for all 15 machines. Want me to get a new quote with the software separated? (please don’t, quotes for Microsoft software are a pain that take way more time than necessary) “

Client: “Sure, let’s just upgrade 5 machines to Office 2007, what’s that price?”

Daniel: “So you don’t want to upgrade to Vista anymore?”

Client: “We’ll wait until we get new computers”

Daniel: “More than half of your workstations are running Office 2000 from the burned copy that your previous IT consultant gave you. Don’t you want to make those computers with illegally installed software legitimate?”

Client: “No, not if we have to pay 15 * $x.xx123, we’ll try to keep the licenses current as we replace the machines.”

Daniel: “AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Hey, who are the men in white coats?”

My new saying is “Microsoft is competing with the IRS for most complicated set of rules for sending them money”.

I have to admit that I didn’t take any business classes in college (regrettably, but I’m trying to make up for this with book reading), but I don’t know if such concepts would have been taught there. Microsoft’s biggest competition isn’t Linux or Macs, it’s Microsoft. People have Windows XP, Office 2000 or sometimes 2003, and they don’t want to spend too much to upgrade or “fix what isn’t broken”. I can generate enough interest when I show off new features or explain the better diagnostic and remote management tools, but that interest is lost when a discussion about pricing starts. And I don’t think changing my quotes to “$0.07* per day” is going to help this.

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