Microsoft is taking bigger steps into the licensing consulting space that’s served by many large-account resellers.
The Redmond, Wash., company on Monday unveiled an early version of Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor, a new online service designed to help IT users make product selections, find the most cost-effective license, and configure and price solutions.
You can launch the advisor here.
In phase one of the service, slated to go live this month in the United States only, customers will have access to a U.S. call center, licensing program comparison and guidance, a License Trainer wizard and a product selection service, including a downloadable configuration and list price estimate, Microsoft said. Phase two of the service, to be rolled out in January, will add to those core services by providing up-to-date information about new product-use rights and new Software Assurance benefits due to become effective in March.
The third phase of the initiative will be the global launch of the service, targeted for spring 2006. Microsoft will be able to quote an entire business solution and provide optimal product-licensing scenarios for customers, based on content provided by its product and business groups. Users also can employ a chat function to interact with worldwide call centers via the global service, which will be rolled out in 20 languages. Microsoft piloted the licensing tool in Europe last year.
Which is all swell but calls into doubt the role of Microsoft partners who used assist customers with licensing:
Though Microsoft is seeking a more direct relationship with customers, the licensing tool doesn’t spell doomsday for the company’s software asset management (SAM) partners, said Brent Callinicos, corporate vice president of licensing at Microsoft.
The goal is to resolve 80 percent of the most common licensing questions for IT professionals, and Microsoft partners will handle the last mile of customer needs–the 20 percent of value-added and customization services that pay higher fees, according to Callinicos. Microsoft won’t work directly with procurement managers, handle product fulfillment or charge a service fee, he said.
More details by following the link.