Cutting Costs: Microsoft Offers Software Incentives

In two programs announced today, Microsoft said it will offer small business owners more new ways to save money when buying software. According to Cindy Bates, Microsoft’s general manager, U.S. small business, the new programs are designed to provide flexibility, accommodate business growth and help small businesses get the most out of their investment in Microsoft technology.

The first program, Microsoft’s Big Easy, is available now and affects purchases made between Feb. 1, 2008 and June 27, 2008. “The Big Easy is an over-arching umbrella for Microsoft’s offers and discounts,” Bates said. “We’ve invested $10 million in partner subsidies to fund the program and to help small business owners buy new software.”

The software discounts will range from 10 – 22 percent with, said Bates, the average running between 15-17 percent. The money small business owners save will be presented in the form of a check to the Microsoft provider of their choice. They can use the money to buy additional products and services from that partner. Note that you must redeem the incentives by July 31, 2008.

Microsoft’s Open Value Subscription Program
On March 3, 2008, Microsoft will launch its Open Value Subscription program. As the name implies, the software in this program is subscription-based, which, Bates said, helps small business owners save money.

“The program provides small business owners with an easier, more flexible way to buy software. They get the software they need with less upfront cost and without a hit to their cash flow,” she said.

In an entry on Microsoft’s Small Business Community Blog, Eric Ligman, Microsoft U.S. senior manager, said,

“This option provides the up-front cost-saving benefits of a lease-type model (no, it’s not an actual lease) where they can pay to use the software for a set period of time with the flexibility to increase or decrease in size as their business size does year over year. At the end of the initial term, clients have the options to continue the subscription, buy out the subscription to own the licenses, or to end the subscription. In addition, your clients may be eligible to receive significant savings and price benefits at the time they enter into a Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreement if they own current versions or one version prior to current versions of Microsoft software already.”

The pricing structure offers greater flexibility, said Bates, because it’s based on the number of desktops in a given company with a fixed amount per desktop. Bates noted that the program accommodates growth by letting you “true-up” or “true-down” as your company’s head/desktop count changes over the term of the three-year annual subscription.

Bates said the program will help small businesses simplify their software license management, give them increased control over their technology dollars and scale with them as their business needs change.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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