Ballmer rejects call for simpler software licensing

By Dave Bailey
05 Oct 2009 View Comments
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UK customers want simpler software licensing

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has rejected calls from UK customers to simplify the supplier's software licensing policies.

Ballmer was facing clients during a question-and-answer session following his presentation today on Windows 7 and its server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2.

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One question put to Ballmer was: "I would appreciate your thoughts on simplifying the application licensing", which received shouts from the audience of "Hear, hear!", and general applause throughout the room.

Another questioner told Ballmer that the application and general virtualisation licensing was "full of challenging fine print, which for some of us is difficult to work our way through."

"If I'm brutally honest, when we are audited by your esteemed colleagues, occasionally they focus on trying to trip us up on this fine print," said the audience member.

But Ballmer replied that he did not anticipate simplifying licences.

"It turns out that every time you simplify something, you get rid of something, and usually what we've got rid of is something somebody has used to keep their prices down," he said.

Ballmer added that the last time Microsoft simplified its licences was about six years ago.

"I got a negative reaction from that. I'd say we succeeded on simplification, but our customer satisfaction numbers plummeted for two-and-a-half years," he said.

Ballmer instead offered a way for disgruntled customers to complain directly.

"The goal is simplification without price increase, but our shareholders would like it to be simplification without a big price decrease. If people have specific things that they think were just complicated, or we have provisions that seem to drive cost that is unnecessary, I encourage you to email me," he said.

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