Microsoft is as famed for the quality and incisiveness of its marketing as it is for the security of its products, but we're particularly impressed by a recent effort which seems designed to make it just that bit tougher for the Redmond sales teams when they hit the corporate accounts. "Microsoft Windows licensing", says the slogan. "Not quite as obvious until now." And jumping out of the page to the eye of the potential purchaser poised to read all about the joys of Windows licensing, we have a cactus labelled "Do not swallow."
Swallow Microsoft Windows licensing? Hell, no, we'd rather eat a cactus. This particular campaign is however impressively direct compared to the baffling thickets it's previously been necessary to navigate in order to figure out some kind of bottom line on Windows licensing. Which is possibly not wholly constructive from Microsoft's point of view.
The site points out that from mid-2005 it will be necessary to validate Windows 2000 and XP in order to access product updates, then moves on swiftly to the money side of the genuine Microsoft Windows equation. You can only obtain Windows by two routes - via an OEM licence acquired when you buy a new PC, or by buying the full packaged product. If you have a full packaged product then you can use it forever, but Microsoft volume licence agreements only apply to upgrades, not full packaged product. OEM licences aren't transferrable, "it lives and dies with the original machine", so you lose the licence when you get rid of the machine.
Those cutting to the chase at this point will be noting that the whole edifice hinges on practically every PC in the world shipping with an OEM copy of Windows, at which point all of the bargains of Microsoft volume licensing become available to the honest purchaser, but that it all becomes horribly expensive the moment you stop buying, thus falling off the MS carousel. One honest purchaser who received the mailshot version of the campaign deduced: "1 - Buy a load of PCs with OEM licences. 2 - Pay a load of cash to volume license a product you already own. 3 - Receive an OS upgrade (maybe). 4 - Find it grinds your machines to a halt. 5 - Buy new machines with new OEM licences."
This particular honest buyer proposes that by the time of his next desktop refresh in four years time, it'll be 90 per cent MS-free. Meanwhile, the satirists are already at work. Oh dear... ®