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Microsoft Extends UTD Discount for Windows and Office

Microsoft has extended its "up-to-date" (UTD) discount upgrade offer for Windows and Office licensees through next month.

The extension of the UTD upgrade offer "through September 30, 2010" was announced on Tuesday by Eric Ligman, global partner experience lead for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group. He provided a description of how the UTD offer works in a blog post back in January. At that time, Microsoft had said that the offer would expire in July.

The terms of the deal only apply under Microsoft's "open value subscription" (OVS) three-year licensing program. Users can upgrade their copies of the Professional editions of Windows or Office to the current Professional editions, and Microsoft grants a half-off discount for the first year of the OVS subscription only. The cost reverts back to the nondiscounted price in years two and three of the OVS subscription.

This nondiscounted price is called the "estimated retail price" by Microsoft. In this case, according to Microsoft's volume-licensing lingo, "retail" doesn't mean the box price as found in retail stores. It's the price set by Microsoft's partners, who buy Open Value Subscription licenses from Microsoft. Consequently, the estimated retail price can vary, depending on the partner offering it, but it's typically lower than store box prices.

The UTD discount plan permits upgrades to current Windows and Office Professional editions from releases that are two generations removed. Microsoft uses the math expression, "N-2," as a shorthand explanation for this concept. The N-2 release for the current Windows 7 product is Windows XP. The N-2 release for the current Office 2010 product is Office 2003.

The older software being upgraded can be based on OEM, retail or volume licenses, but only the Professional editions qualify. In addition, if IT shops have some current releases mixed in, they will have to pay again for those licenses under the OVS program. To qualify under OVS licensing, organizations need to have more than five PCs but less than 250 PCs.

OVS is unlike other open-value licenses in that it does not require the purchase of Software Assurance (SA), according to Paul DeGroot, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft. SA is a licensing option that lets organizations upgrade to the next version of a product within the SA contract's time period. OVS costs less "because you never pay for the licenses," DeGroot said in an e-mail. However, after the three-year subscription period is over, organizations will either have to buy the licenses, renew the OVS or just stop using the software.

OVS allows "true downs" in calculating annual licensing costs. So, licensing costs can go down as the number of PCs running the software declines in an organization. This kind of licensing might prove to be valuable for small companies that downsize the workforce, for instance.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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