Microsoft Launching Online Licensing Program



Microsoft plans to launch an online license-procurement program on July 19, expanding its pilot nationally and adding partners, including Dell Computer and CompUSA, a Microsoft official said yesterday.

Since February, the software vendor has tested Microsoft Licensing Online, an Internet extension of the company's Open License program for small and midsize businesses, in San Francisco and Phoenix, says Tracey Maroc, Microsoft group manager for volume licensing. The pilot lets companies with five to 1,000 PCs configure a volume software license through a Microsoft Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/mlo), then print their order for delivery to a preferred reseller, or transfer their online shopping basket to a participating online reseller. Insight Direct, CDW Computer Centers, and online reseller License Online are the pilot partners.

When Microsoft extends the program to small and midsize businesses nationwide next month, the vendor will increase its online resellers to eight, retaining existing partners and adding companies, including CompUSA and Dell, Maroc says. "These companies are already doing a good job in the Open License business. All our partners are very E-commerce-capable and have good customer service," she says.

Microsoft will sell three groups of products through Microsoft Licensing Online: applications (primarily Office and its components), server products (encompassing the BackOffice line of products), and "system products," or operating systems. After customers select the number of required seats, their computing platform, and the desired number of discs and documentation, Microsoft's site returns an estimated retail price. Customers choosing to fulfill the order through an online reseller will receive a quote that applies the reseller's pricing to the requested configuration.

To help ensure that small and midsize businesses aren't intimidated by online ordering, Microsoft will require that partners send an order confirmation by E-mail to users, and follow up with a phone call within an hour of purchase.

"A lot of customers don't love licensing programs," Maroc says. "They perceive them to be an inefficient use of their time. We're trying to simplify it so it doesn't become a pain."

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