By Neil MacDonald and Alexa Bona, Gartner Analysts
For the past two months, Microsoft has maintained that the reimaging and
cloning of Windows workstations was an advanced operating system usage
right, available only at extra cost. Now Microsoft has partially reversed this position by allowing its "Select" customers to reimage at no additional fee.
Although this change will benefit some businesses, others will still pay substantially
more for Windows.
Select customers that have used the Microsoft-provided Select media to
reimage their workstations will no longer be required to purchase upgrade
licenses. Microsoft also stated it would provide written confirmation of
this change to any customer requesting it.
Since July, Gartner clients have indicated that Microsoft's sales force
has pressured companies to purchase OS upgrade protection for all of their
workstations since the machines were deployed using a reimaging process and
Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Windows licenses do not
allow reimaging. Microsoft justified this view on the grounds that without
an upgrade license, which costs between $96 and $171 per workstation,
businesses are not permitted to reimage workstations using Microsoft media--even if the workstation is reimaged with the same version of Windows
delivered by the OEM.
In Gartner's view, Microsoft's official public statement about the change in
policy is somewhat misleading. The statement: "Microsoft has changed its
licensing policies to allow its Select License and Enterprise Agreement
customers to use volume licensing media to re-image...with an identical
version of the product without the need to purchase a volume license."
However, the pay-for-the-right-to-reimage rule affected few enterprise
agreements as most include upgrade advantage on the OS. The change Microsoft
has made is that enterprises falling under a Select agreement now have the
right to reimage without requiring the purchase of an upgrade license.
Although promising, the final point in the brief needs clarification. It states:
"Microsoft software products covered by a volume license continue to be
covered by the terms of the customer's Select License or Enterprise
Agreement. Microsoft software re-imaged using volume licensing media but not
covered by a volume license continues to be covered by the terms of the
original End User License Agreement (EULA)."
As the basic Windows OS
licenses are not available for purchase through Select, and because an upgrade
is no longer required, these licenses are "not covered by a volume license."
Thus, they continue to be covered by the terms of the OEM EULA. However, the
OEM EULA does not allow reimaging, so things are back where they started.
Gartner expects Microsoft to clarify this issue in a revised brief.
Microsoft has addressed this issue for its largest customers--those falling
under an enterprise or Select agreement. However, Gartner recommends that
Microsoft address this issue for all of its customers. Reimaging is a useful
deployment and support mechanism for enterprises with as few as 10 desktops.
As it stands, all reimaging using OEM-provided media continues to be
prohibited. Enterprises that do not fall under a Microsoft volume purchase
program are not permitted to reimage. Furthermore, even enterprises
purchasing under Microsoft's Open agreement are still required to purchase
upgrades before reimaging.
Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.