Microsoft's touching Xmas gift for Brits: MORE licensing price hikes

Updated versions means updated prices

Microsoft has wrapped up a bunch of pre-Chrimbo licensing price hikes for channel partners to deliver to customers at the start of next month.

Redmond handed out a summer treat by bumping up volume licences for UK firms from 1 July as it aligned pricing to the Euro. These rises ranged from 1.7 per cent for Open Classic to 25.9 per cent for Open Value Subscriptions.

Then in October Microsoft large-account reseller Softcat warned of changes to Client Access Licensing (CAL) from 1 December that will force customers to pay 15 per cent more for User CALs. Well, it's sounding the alarm again.

The reseller has alerted customers of an upward swing in a range of other software products that will impact companies depending on their licensing position.

SharePoint Server is "moving to a single version only", according to Softcat, and the 2013 edition will cost 37 per cent more than 2010 version. The same change is being made to Lync Server 2013 but its price tag will soar by 400 per cent on the 2010 release.

There is some logic to this, at least as far as Microsoft is concerned, as some channel partners had directed customers to the free or standard versions and developed functionality around the products to suit the specific companies' needs.

"This always pissed off Microsoft as it wasn't maximising licensing revenues, so in a way I don't blame them for the licence simplification and price rises," said one Microsoft partner.

The Premium version of Visio 2013 - used to creates flowcharts, room layouts, timelines, organisational charts and such like - will be replaced by Pro. The Standard and Pro licences will cost 20 per cent and five per cent more, respectively.

The desktop versions - Standard and Pro - of work management software Project 2013 will edge up five per cent, and the Project Server licence price will inflate by 15 per cent.

Microsoft's cloud service Office 365 will expand to include Project and Visio, and depending on the subscription or purchase method its licence price could head north by eight per cent.

Customers wanting Project and Vision made the licensing structure an "awkward" mix of on-premise tech and cloud. "They will be incredibly powerful for SMEs," one dealer noted.

Channel partners are really struggling to swallow the whopping hike on Lync - the product is designed to slash telephony costs, and will now embed Skype, but whether that justifies a 400 per cent rise is "debatable", we're told.

"We've always been led to believe that Lync was losing money and the size of this increase is shocking, so it may be an attempt to drive up the profit on the line," one Microsoft reseller speculated.

Of course, just as with the planned rises in July, customers can get in early and "buy any of the affected software this month at their current lower prices", said Softcat commercial director Dave Simpson in a sales pitch on his blog.

Microsoft is preparing a response and we'll update this story when it arrives. ®

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