Microsoft Fine-tunes Software Assurance Program

Microsoft has upgraded its Software Assurance maintenance offering, with eight new benefits for deployment planning services, training and support.

New Software Assurance benefits that support the deployment stage of the software life-cycle include a Desktop Deployment Planning Services voucher that customers with either Select or Enterprise license agreements can redeem for an onsite consulting engagement of up to 10 days—based on the volume of Microsoft Office software that is licensed with Software Assurance. This engagement includes education on the latest technology and tools for deploying desktop software applications, as well as a customized desktop deployment plan for the organization by a Microsoft Certified Partner of the customer’s choice, the company says.

Information Work Solution Services are pre-defined service offerings delivered by Microsoft Consulting Services or Microsoft Certified Partners to help customers get more value from investments in the Microsoft Office system. They include a 1-day Information Work Value Discovery Workshop that helps business people develop a prioritized list of projects that will have the greatest impact and lowest risk on their business. They also may include a two-day Information Work Architecture Design Session that helps IT specialists and technical decision-makers understand the architecture required to implement those solutions.

“This feature alone could save an IT shop thousands of dollars just in terms of personnel hours” as a result of learning how to more rapidly and easily deploy a new version of Microsoft Office," says Laura Didio, a Yankee Group research fellow who participated in today’s Software Assurance Webcast. “What’s more, Desktop Deployment Planning Services can enable IT staffs to do smoother, more efficient upgrades with fewer errors and less down time.”

Customers with Software Assurance on their client operating system will have access to Windows Vista Enterprise, a new edition of the next generation of the Windows operating system scheduled for final release in 2006 with the full Windows Vista product line, and to Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, a new Windows-based operating system solution designed to help customers reduce the total cost of ownership and improve security and manageability of their legacy hardware.

In addition to the new Windows Vista Enterprise, Virtual PC Express and the Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs benefits, Software Assurance customers with 30,000 or more Information Worker or Client licenses will receive additional vouchers for IT professionals that can be used for training in selected courses from Microsoft Certified Partners for Learning Solutions. Microsoft also has increased the cap on the number of training vouchers a customer can receive to provide additional flexibility, as well as scale to better meet the needs of larger organizations.

The company has also expanded its support benefits so that customers are no longer required to track their Software Assurance coverage by licenses to use phone support.

Last, Microsoft has included its Extended Hotfix Support Agreement as part of the Software Assurance benefit.