back to article Microsoft's age of innocence ends with Select death

Microsoft has ended its first ever - and possibly most generous - program for people buying copies of Windows in bulk. The Select License introduced with Windows NT in 1993 will no longer be offered to customers as of July 1, 2011. Customers are being moved to Select Plus, introduced 18 months ago. No reason was given for …

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Anonymous Coward

Words fail me

"Select saw Microsoft give customers discounts on the amount of money they said they expected to spend during the three-year-life of an agreement, rather than the money they'd actually spent. That created an incentive to forecast high for big discounts. Making it even sweeter: Microsoft didn't ask for the money back if you didn't spend what you said you would."

And there I was thinking the reason MS produces such awful software is because they're a sales firm. It turns out, they can't design sales programmes either. Capitalism is ... having your industries led by the clinically inept. Apparently.

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Gold badge

Not too surprised

I'm not a Microsoft fan, but Select just sounds like it was ripe..err..rife... whichever... for abuse. So I'm not surprised it's being cancelled. Microsoft will have to be VERY careful, if they raise effective pricing too much companies will reconsider Microsoft's OSes and Office (which are essentially Microsoft's two profitable product lines...) Now that OEMs are not forcing "Microsoft tax" onto every machine like they did in the past (only most machines...) they do not have a guaranteed cash flow!

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Anonymous Coward

How Microsoft monopolised the office desktop market

I'd say the ability to game the select agreement system was left in quite delibreately.

People were chomping at the bit to get signed up with the biggest "discount" then the customer lock in was just a part of how the softare was designed. Very clever.

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Linux

Goodbye Select, goodbye..

Who cares? Goodbye Microsoft, oh sorry, I haven't used you in years...

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Anonymous Coward

Screwed by MS over select

We ran Select with squeaky clean control. There was no usage beyond the contract terms. Maybe 7 or 8 years ago MS wanted us to move to SA (at an additional cost of 7 figures). When it became clear that we weren't going to, MS sent in "independent" third party auditors - as was their right under the Select license. We were told that no such audit had ever failed to find some violations and our best option was to roll over and pay up for SA.

After a few days looking at our license control system the auditors seemed happy and told us they had never seen such scrupulous control of licensing as ours.

Having fed that back to MS the auditors came back looking unhappy and got busy again. I suspected they'd been given a strong imperative from MS to deliver some evidence of violation - like "if you don't find a problem we'll be using different auditors in future".

They found an issue. We had a stack of downgrade licenses. There was a point in history when we could only buy PCs preinstalled with Win95, we wanted to stay on Win3.x and update the entire PC estate later in a controlled and properly managed manner. MS required that we pay for a "downgrade" licence for each of those PCs to use them with Win3 instead of the shipped Win95. In itself that tells you something about MS, so little confidence in their own new product that they have to charge extra if you choose to stick with the older version - so each PC effectively had to have 2 windows licenses. And of course they could announce artificially inflated figures for the adoption of the new product.

Moving forward in time to the audit 5 or 6 years later, all our estate had indeed been upgraded but we had no evidence of the originally shipped licenses for those PCs - notwithstanding that those PCs were obsolete, few if any still extant (and the manufacturer had stopped making PCs in the intervening years and unable to assist). So all they had was a pile of downgrade licenses and an estate of upgraded PCs. From my perspective a downgrade license implies that there was a license to downgrade from, especially as it probably dated back to the time when MS were requiring that manufacturers buy a Win license for every PC shipped regardless of whether the user wanted/needed windows. But the auditors disagreed with that logic.

My employers struck a deal to close off the issue - they agreed a payment for the alleged violation but were not forced into buying SA and payment was a few percent of what SA would have cost. That prevented any risk of allegations going public, however ill-founded, that a major corporate was guilty of software piracy. There may have been other considerations - we very probably had other completely unrelated commercial involvement with the auditors, they may have been customers of ours and looking at the bigger picture it may not have been in our best interest to upset their lucrative work for MS.

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FAIL

eh?

7 or 8 years ago you could only buy a PC with Win 95 and wanted to stay on Win 3.1?

Where exactly onn earth did this happen?!

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Anonymous Coward

read the posting before responding

"7 or 8 years ago you could only buy a PC with Win 95 and wanted to stay on Win 3.1?"

That's not what the posting said.

7 or 8 years ago MS wanted us to move to SA. SA applies not just to new PCs but for the entire estate, hence the audit and the reference to the the Win3.x machines bought 5 or 6 years earlier - though I'm not being pedantic about the precise timetable but I do seem to recall Win95 was not really available till '96 and MS didn't immediately stop suppliers shipping with win3.x

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J 3
Linux

Just like software "piracy"

It's obviously impossible they did not know that, for 17 years, dishonest (or "smart", depending on one's moral feeling today) people were "gaming" their discount program, or whatever. Just like they know people use MS software without a legally purchased license. Both were to MS' advantage (ahem... the real "genuine advatage"?).

The question, to me, is why they killed the thing now. Do they think they have reached total domination and therefore don't need the baits anymore?

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