In a bid to avoid confusion over Windows licensing issues concerning a coming generation of multicore microprocessors from Intel and AMD, Microsoft this week revealed that it will not require customers to pay twice when running Microsoft products on such chips. Corporate customers of the software giant feared that Microsoft would treat the multicore chips as multiple processors and then charge the appropriate per-processor fees, as is common with enterprise software.
"We don't believe that charging for chip processor improvements is in the best interest of the industry," says Cori Hartje, the director of marketing for Microsoft's worldwide licensing and pricing group. Because the initial generation of multicore processors will target servers and high-end workstations, Microsoft's current policy only applies to enterprise software like Windows Server and Exchange Server. However, when multicore processors filter down to personal computers and consumers, the company says it will likely use the same licensing policy: No additional charge for running software on multicore chips.
Microsoft's decision allays fears about the new chips and will likely spur other companies to adopt similar policies, which should help adoption of multicore chips to proceed far more quickly than would otherwise be the case. While multicore processors aren't expected to provide linear performance improvements over single core chips, a dual core processor will likely provide a 60-70 performance benefit. Intel expects to ship its first multicore chip, a dual core Xeon processor, in the first quarter of 2006.