Microsoft tweaks troubled licensing plan

Microsoft angered its customers and now it wants to make good. That's the message the company is seeking to convey with an overhaul to its controversial Software Assurance purchasing program. Microsoft said Tuesday that it will throw in several services, including training and support, with the cost of software licenses in an effort to encourage customers to buy into the program.

Starting in September, the services will be available for free to Software Assurance customers only, covering both desktop and server software. The services include online training through Microsoft or accredited training companies; extended customer phone and Web support for problem resolution; and access to Microsoft's bug-tracking information service called TechNet. Customers will also have tools to better track their licenses and have the right to use Microsoft Office on home computers, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced its Software Assurance program in May 2001 but delayed implementation for more than a year after a customer backlash. Customers participate in the regularized payment plan through Select License 6.0, Microsoft's volume licensing contracts for corporate, government and academic organizations.

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