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Microsoft gives discounts on software licenses

Discounts of up to 25 percent can be had for SQL Server, SharePoint, Visual Studio, and other Microsoft software, but the company hasn't widely advertised the deals.

Microsoft has cut the price of leasing software by as much as 25 percent.

Companies can sign up for discounts on SQL Server, SharePoint, and other Microsoft software, or two bundles of client-access licenses, according to notices posted on the Microsoft Incentives Web site.

One special promotion is "Simplify and Save," which offers savings of 15 percent for those who consolidate at least two existing license agreements into an Open Value agreement. Microsoft said the discount will run for the entire length of a three-year license deal.

Another offer is for between 15 percent and 25 percent off the price of the license and the Software Assurance costs of running Exchange Server, Office Communications Server, SQL Server, Office SharePoint Server, Visual Studio, Office Project, and other Microsoft software.

It is a condition of some Microsoft license agreements that companies take out schemes such as Microsoft Software Assurance in order to keep their software properly licensed, and therefore eligible for upgrades and promotions. Industry estimates suggest this situation can add as much as 100 British pounds a year per PC to the cost of running applications.

The cuts are similar to those that Microsoft has made on the cost of licensing specific products. The Microsoft Office Project Assurance Pack's price has been cut by 25 percent, and Microsoft Project Server 2007 has seen a similar price fall.

According to one analyst, when it comes to special offers, Microsoft does not tell enough people about them. "This is good news for users but Microsoft should be shouting about offers like this," said Tony Lock, analyst with Freeform Dynamics. "Software Assurance is not widely recognized and deals like this, which seems pretty much across the board of Microsoft software, should be better known."

Lock said that, while Microsoft has good market share, it is "not nearly as good as it could or should be, given offers like this."

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.