back to article Microsoft tells resellers: 'We listened to you, and we have acted' (PS: Plz keep making us money)

Faced with continued rumbles of discontent from its reseller network on the eve of its Inspire conference, Microsoft has climbed down from plans to pull free software licences from its channel chums. Doubtless fearful of a keynote sabotaged by a baying mob of angry resellers, Microsoft corporate veep for commercial partners …

  1. J. R. Hartley


    How tight are Microsoft? Who thought pissing their sales guys off would help increase revenue?

    Fucking idiots.

    1. a_yank_lurker

      Re: Seriously

      The partners are external sales organizations. Some marketing moron did not realize what they do and how they help Slurp sell to small businesses. Internal Slurp sales staff would not want to service these relatively small accounts but a local partner does.

      As you see Idiots.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Seriously

        "Some marketing moron"

        More likely the moron would be a beancounter totting up the "losses" on the licenses - price of everything and value of nothing etc. Much as I expect marketing to be staffed entirely by morons I suspect that this time it was marketing who realised the consequences.

    2. NetBlackOps

      Re: Seriously

      Those of us considered smaller resellers keep going through this where a firm thinks they can internalize the profitable sales, not lose very many sales that were a result of those smaller resellers, and extract some extra income in one form or another (e.g. internal licenses) and off said firm goes with a better balance sheet. From decades of experience, it never works out that way. It always has the opposite effect. I've no idea where they get this idea, it certainly isn't from historical data of IT firms. I used to think that MBA programs were about using case studies but somebody seems to have black holed the ones on this.

      I severed ties with MS a long time ago as I saw the iterations of this already looming. The funny thing is that they approached me concerning becoming a partner, with all the supposed benefits, rather than the other way around. I've never lacked for clients, just by word of mouth alone. Adverts, promotiional material, &c? Nope.

      [Final straw for me with Microsoft: Never had a competency nor a certification, outside the military, in my life. Demonstrated results seems to matter more to clients. Frag off!]

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Seriously

        Dunno why you got the down votes unless they were from folk in the advertising industry. WoM is far more effective and far cheaper than adverts.

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Seriously

          'Good Wine Needs No Bush' is the correct reply to all advertisingthings.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Seriously

            You know what it means, I know what it means. The advertising people may even know what it means but they make their living selling bushes and there's the other saying about what happens when a man's living depends on his not understanding.

      2. Tom -1

        Re: Seriously

        "I used to think that MBA programs were about using case studies but somebody seems to have black holed the ones on this"

        No, you thought correctly. This was obviously something put together by the money men - they do degrees in accountncy and generally don't do MBAs because they think that their accountancy qualification means they already know it all. The ones with MBAs will be marketeers or others without accountancy qualifications (eg engineers), and are precisely the people whom the accounts types would not listen to and would not consult before taking the supreme accountant vision to the CEO so as to bamboozle him into accepting their crazy scheme by not letting engineers, marketeers, or customer support people (all of whom would be absolutely appalled by it) know about it and object before he'd given them them go ahead for their wonderful (well, it certainly made me wonder how even an accountant could believe in such stupidity) scheme.

    3. N2

      Re: Seriously

      The very same people who thought pissing off their users with forced updates, telemetry and all the other nonesense was a fine idea?

      1. DCFusor

        Re: Seriously

        Depends on how you define "group". I'm pretty sure MS disperses idiots throughout many internal groups within the organization. They seem to have as many of those as the few competent peons they have can possibly support.

      2. Tom -1

        Re: Seriously (from N2)

        Actually pissing off users with forced updates was certainly a fine idea, particulary since "forced" is rather an overstatment, they can easily be evaded. I certainly forced updates (both Microsoft updates and our own updates) on customers when I was Technical Director of Neos. I had seen Neos lose a customer before I had control because the incompetent idiot who made decisions about applying updates to the OS decided never to apply them (everything I had control of was updated as soon as my review of the update indicated it would cause no problem - I don't believe in blindly accepting updates, but blindly rejecting them is far worse) - if the MS update had been applied the customer's system wouldn't have been converted into a pornography advertisement system.

        Being old and weary now, I've retired and only have to worry about my own computers. But so far as iving with windows 10 is concerned, I read the documenttion about any update before it gets applied, and if I like the look of it (ie it doesn't risk affecting areas that my non-MS software relies on) I apply it and test - and I haven't yet rolled back to an updated version (except when testing to make sure my rollback still works) - and that's a lot of updates, as I switched to windows 10 from windows 8.1 as soon as it was available,

    4. TheVogon

      Re: Seriously

      It's often hard to argue against money making / saving proposals without hard evidence of negative impact, but still surprised this one saw daylight. Regardless that there was actually a rebellion you would have thought having as many incentives as practicable to be a partner that has to retain X number of Microsoft certified staff and keep them busy was a no brainer.

  2. LeahroyNake


    'We wondered if maybe, just maybe, some of those sign-ups might be only after the goodies rather than winning the company more customers.'

    Ummmm I think you hit the nail square on with that comment.

    If they brought back real perpetual licenses for Office and I hate saying this but SBS (with outlook licenses included) maybe retention would be easier.

    As it is now I'm stuck between recommending Libre Office and thunderbird with cpanel mail accounts... Then comparing the price with Office 365 or Google solutions that seem to deny any responsibility regarding your data. At least if its on site or I control the servers / VPS I can have reliable backup and ownership of any issues that arise.

    Most of my customers are SMB or charities, moving to monthly subscription per user is not economically viable.

    Thanks for the licenses though ;)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      Microsoft built its dominant position by being loose and lenient with licenses for desktop applications through the 1990s.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        Why the downvotes. I was running a consulting/software business then, and it was certainly true...

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Maybe

          Don’t worry about downvotes if you are over 12 years old. I have about 3000 of them and I am proud of every single one.

      2. TheVogon

        Re: Maybe

        And it still is really. If you can ignore the annoying messages then Windows works without activation. And Office Pro Plus works for 30 days extendable 5 times simply by executing OSPPREARM.exe

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe

      Charities and not-profits get O365 or GSuite for free and unlimited storage too. I also run a small business and the subscription costs per month for Google are tiny compared to the costs of implementing and maintaining server(s), server software, office client licenses, etc *and* I can buy Chromebooks a lot cheaper than a laptop. Plus you get benefits of collaborative working, easy remote working, etc.

      As for denying responsibility for data, that's rubbish - I ran an estate of 45,000 users for years using Google and never lost any data.

      Sounds to me more like you are protecting your own income stream rather than using technologies with a lower TCO and which are more effective.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        "As for denying responsibility for data, that's rubbish - I ran an estate of 45,000 users for years using Google and never lost any data."

        Denying responsibility and you not experiencing data loss are 2 different things.

        If something did happen to your data, you would see what that non-responsibility would mean.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        Finally, someone on The Register who talks sense. I can only assume you won't be hanging around long.

        I honestly feel sorry for a lot of the customers of some of the so-called consultants that I meet. Outdated skills, prejudiced and lacking the integrity to propose what would be best for the customer vs what maintains the status quo.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        O365 doesnt need on premises server software, and includes the office client license. And it's way more fully featured than Google Apps. Just for instance fully DRM protected files that will still work in a secure environment without internet access. The best Google can do is controlling access to a web link for your file. Presumably why there are books on Amazon for migrating from Google to O365 but not visa versa!

      4. The Average Joe

        Re: Maybe

        for students it is hands down better to use G Suite, anyone else doing the MS thing is just a 100% idiot. Chromebooks do not get stolen, are cheap and do not get kooties... Windows is great if you like to have an entire army to support your users and poorly written software that in some cases runs on someone else's computer. Do you get WAN bandwidth for free? Microsoft says everyone now has a 1 gig connection...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe

      Are you stuck in the dark ages or something?

      I'm not Micrsoft shill, but comparing an O365 Business subscription to Thunderbird, Libre Office and a webmail account isn't exactly apples and apples.

      As for Microsoft playing fast and loose with your data? Well, apparently a swan can break your arm with its wings, but in 44 years I've never met anyone unfortunate to get their arm broken by one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        But we do know microsoft lost eveyones data that used TDE databases when a cleanup script deleted them all when their internal dns went down as it couldn't access the encryption keys. They restored the data, but lost the last 5 minutes of data.

  3. bpfh Silver badge


    Is it worth signing up to the action pack again? What do you get today in internal use licences ? I would like to know for.... research.... purposes...

    1. 404

      Re: So...



      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        It certainly not like the quarterly CD-ROM deliveries of old, or where the first Action Pack was a big box of software, that was like xmas.

        But still a good value for a small organization.

        The article focused on Action-Pack, but I suspect that the big action was really on the Gold and Silver level partners and the IUR that they have been granted that really starts to add up.

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          Re: So...

          "that was like xmas."

          ... with the Grinch

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Depends what you want to use and what perpetual licenses you already have.

      In some cases the action pack is worth it, in others it isn't.

      In our case, it used to be but isn't now.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: So...

        YMMV, but for me:

        5 users O365 E3 with 5TB storage for each account

        10 Windows 10 upgrade licences

        bunch of Windows Server licences (I don't really understand the licensing of Server)

        SQL Std (only 2 cores, ok for internal which is the intention)

        $100 per month Azure credit (worth it just for that IMHO)

        Then also:

        Exchange licence

        Bunch of stuff I don't use

  4. shd

    As a small business, we also hate regular subscriptions or payments to anything - our business is extremely spiky, so we prefer to buy things outright when we've got money.

    But we've got a worse problem, in that our aging Novell Netware servers are overdue for replacement - but I can't bring myself to move to Microsoft for them, yet haven't found a viable alternative path.

    1. Ilsa Loving

      Depending on what you're using them for, a turnkey linux distro, like ClearOS, might be an option.

    2. CAPS LOCK

      We've gone with FreeBSD on generic hardware using ZFS mirrors.

      A totally fuss free experience. We started with Samba, but now use NFS, and you can use both simultaneously. No buggering about with licences, great documentation, ZFS baked in and a knowledgeable community. What's not to like?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We've gone with FreeBSD on generic hardware using ZFS mirrors.

        I'd consider this or something close to it. If your business is very small you may be able to move cloudward.

    3. pgm

      The B52 is still in use after nearly 60 yeras of use.

      So if the product still does what you need it to do ,why upgrade?

      Netware was so many years ahead of M$ products that it's still a viable solution.

      I see Fry's still uses Netware for their POS system.

      Lightning fast and as stable as ever.

      The problem was Netware was too good ,so there was never enough reason to rip and replace the product.

  5. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "a thorough review"

    They found that someone had hidden a row in the cost/benefit spreadsheet.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "a thorough review"

      A thorough review usually takes longer than that. The rest of the business saying "WTF do you think you're doing?", however, can be pretty quick.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a thorough review"

      No, it would never be anything this subtle or involve the required effort to create a cost/benefit spreadsheet in the first place.

      Someone has looked through partner subsidies and decided that if MS didn't provide them as subsidies they would instantly turn into revenue because MS partners all love MS products so much and would never consider alternatives for themselves or their customers.

      Based on other companies doing this (there are so many examples but HP server firmware/driver updates is similar) it's only really a sensible move when your business has started to decline and you don't see any other way of extracting more revenue.

  6. Franco Silver badge

    Can't say I'm surprised they've backed down, as unlike HMRC they listen to the people making money for them.

    I expect they will trim the free licensing at some point, which I'm OK with TBH, I only use Office 365, some Windows Servers, System Center & SQL backend and some Windows clients out of my allocation.

  7. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Margin Snafflers sounds like some slum profession in Henry Mayhew's London.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft: Our products are so great that even our partners bail out if they have to pay for them. :-)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      ^ This ^ must be the quote of the week :)

  9. The Average Joe

    Can we squeeze some more blood from this rock....

    lets try a new twist and squeeze in a different way, as long as we don't kill them we are ok.

    Red Cross blood drives should do this and start taking a minimum of 8 pints of blood per donor...

  10. MichaelValidationPleaseStop

    Best viral marketing ever!

    LOL, is this like a Groupon?

    The fail of failing to fail after failing to not fail.

    Speaking of free, have you bought your Microsoft Linux Pro license yet?

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