So we begin Microsoft's fiscal 4th quarter, ending June 30. The largest percentage of Microsoft Enterprise Agreements expires during this quarter, and historically it's been Microsoft's most profitable quarter. This year has been distinguished by the ongoing economic malaise which is tightening IT budgets everywhere, even and especially for "infrastructure" software such as Windows, Office and the various Microsoft servers.
With Windows 8 being perceived as a flawed OS and Office 2013 as a marginal upgrade based on the flawed Windows 8, and with the sticker shock that many clients are still facing as they transition from older, "grandfathered" EA pricing into the newer, much higher costs of SQL, Windows, System Center and other widely deployed products, Microsoft is having a harder time than usual getting the easy renewals of EAs. Microsoft has responded aggressively on a number of fronts, including a dramatically increased audit (or "Software Asset Management") rate, as well as promotional pricing on the Office365 services.
It’s troubling to consistently work with clients who have been given what is probably incorrect information by their Microsoft sales teams. In recent years of good economic growth, it was a rare case where the sales team went beyond “good salesmanship” and crossed the line into active misdirection. However, in recent months, we've seen an epidemic of incorrect information, open threats of audit and general hard-ball tactics from Microsoft – all while at the same time talking up the value of “partnership” and “enablement”.
- If you're considering Office365... have you been actively evaluating Google as well?
- If you're faced with steep cost increases for the exact same infrastructure footprint, what are your alternatives?
- Has Microsoft been telling you that the licensing rules that you've been using for the past several years are no longer valid, and now you have to pay for a lot more "user" licenses for CALs and Office?
- Have you been threatened, or "asked" to participate in an audit (disguised as a Software Asset Management engagement)?
Don't fall for the scare tactics! Your buying power has more value to Microsoft during this June quarter of 2013 than at any other time we can recall of Microsoft's hegemony. If you're reading this blog and your Microsoft agreements are up for renewal during 2013, why haven't you already called NET(net) for a free, no obligation discussion and assessment? The truth will set you free... and probably save you a lot of money.
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