Bowing to complaints, Microsoft is updating its reviled Licensing 6.0 program to include an option that makes software more affordable to small businesses. Dubbed Open Value, the new licensing option will go live on March 1, replacing the current Open Business option. The primary benefit of the new plan is that it allows small businesses to spread payments for software licenses out over three years.
Unlike most Licensing 6.0 options, Open Value allows for as few as five licenses, or "seats" in Microsoft lingo. There is no fixed ceiling, or upper limit of licenses that one must purchase, making it an attractive option for growing and even mid-sized companies. Furthermore, the plan costs only about one-third of Open Business over the first year, which will probably be compelling to cash-strapped operations.
Open Value, like a few other Licensing 6.0 tweaks that Microsoft is working on, came about because of disappointing upgrade numbers for the company's latest licensing scheme, which its customers largely consider to be overly expensive. But an interesting side-effect of the new plan is that it may help bring recalcitrant customers on board: Though many of Microsoft's customers decided to skip out on Licensing 6.0, allowing the July 2002 deadline come and go, many of these companies will still be eligible for Open Value. If enough customers jump on board, Microsoft will likely see yet another jump, year-over-year, in software licenses.