Microsoft drops Consumer Windows volume license

SPECIAL WEEKEND UPDATE Citing increasing demand for Windows 2000 Professional, Microsoft announced late Friday that it is dropping the volume license for its consumer-oriented Windows Me (Millennium Edition) product, effective March 1, 2001. And volume licensing for the previous Consumer Windows versions, such as Windows 95 and Windows 98 will be dropped June 30. The net result is that enterprises will not be able to get a discount on Windows Me or its predecessors, and will instead be pushed toward the business-oriented Windows 2000. While some might argue that this is a sneaky way to quietly raise the price of Windows, as Windows 2000 costs more than Windows 9x/Me, Microsoft says that it's just a reflection on what the business market is asking for, as corporations have been adopting Windows 2000 in ever-greater numbers for their desktops. And, as Microsoft notes, Windows Me was never intended for the business desktop anyway. The company had originally planned to offer the product only to consumers, at retail and through bundles with new PCs.

"Changes are being made given the mainstream business adoption of Windows 2000 Professional, as volume licensing demand for Consumer Windows has steadily declined," Microsoft said in a statement. A growing number of enterprise customers of all sizes are utilizing Windows 2000 Professional for their business applications today. Volume licensing customers who want to upgrade to the latest business version of Windows Operating System should purchase Windows 2000 Professional."

Additionally, the company is removing Windows 95/98 from volume licensing programs such as Microsoft Select, effective December 31, 2000. Customers will still be able to purchase Consumer Windows products through retail and OEM channels, and Microsoft says that it will fulfill obligations to all existing Consumer Windows Upgrade Advantage customers through the term of their contracts.

As Microsoft completes the transition from the Windows 9x/Me product line to the NT-based Windows 2000 line, however, some businesses are going to feel left out, as they're still using older hardware than can't run Windows 2000 effectively, or at all. These customers will probably stick with Windows 9x on desktops and laptops for some time, but Microsoft says that most new purchases on the desktop have been for Windows 2000. And these days, any new PC purchase will be an ideal candidate for Windows 2000

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