Microsoft Wraps Small Biz Products in One SKU

Monday Oct 10th 2005 by Dan Muse
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The software giant offers Windows XP Pro operating system, Office suite and Small Business Server CAL for one price spread over three years, provides small businesses subsidies for IT services.

Promising to lower the cost and simplify the installation of its software, Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of two new programs aimed at small businesses.

The Small Business Platform SKU, is designed to add a small businesses flavor to the Microsoft Open Value licensing program by consolidating the purchasing, use and management of the software products it says are core to small businesses.

The other program is the Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 IT Services Promotion. It's designed to offer a way for businesses that purchase a minimum of five Microsoft Office 2003 licenses or one Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 license to receive subsidies from Microsoft to use toward IT consultant services such as software installation, consulting, training and more.

Today's announcement represents the "first small business desktop platform SKU," Cindy Bates, general manager of Microsoft's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group, said. "Open Value reduces pricing and spread payments over three years." There is zero percent financing on the software, Bates said.

The Small Business Desktop Platform, part of the enhanced Open Value licensing program, provides a license for every PC in the company for Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business Edition, a Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 Client Access License and Microsoft Windows XP Professional Upgrade.The program assumes that the business is already running Small Business Server 2003 ($599 for the standard edition and $1,499 for the Premium edition, both of which include five CALs).

The small business platform will save 28 percent above the pricing already built into the Open Value license program, Bates said. This offering has an estimated retail price of $922 per PC. "I think someone here calculated the costs over three years to be about 84 cents a day."

The new desktop SKU includes three years of Microsoft Software Assurance benefits, which include free upgrades to Microsoft Windows Vista operating system and Microsoft Office 12 when those products are released.

Small businesses that buy at least five Microsoft Office 2003 licenses or one Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 license also qualify to receive a Microsoft subsidy for services from a Microsoft Partner Program. Those services include installation, deployment, risk and security assessments and training.

Businesses are eligible for $100 in services for each Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 license they purchase. They can also receive $100 for each Microsoft Office 2003 license (provided they purchase at least five licenses). Businesses that purchase both can receive up $125 of IT services per PC. The maximum subsidy is $10,000.

Bates said that the small business specifies who the partner is and Microsoft issues a check to that company in the small business' name. She added that businesses can use the Microsoft Small Business Center to find a partner if they don't have one in mind or they register a partner if it isn't in the Microsoft Partner Program.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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