Microsoft Open Value Subscription is none of the above

Not open, not valuable, not really a subscription--Microsoft fails at marketing itself as hip.

Dave Rosenberg Co-founder, MuleSource
Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.
Dave Rosenberg
3 min read

Back in June of 2006 I wrote a post about Microsoft's attempts to insidiously subvert and usurp the open-source community. In that post, I opined that Microsoft was using clever marketing to make nice with the open-source community with the launch of a developer site called Codeplex.

This week Microsoft launched a SMB program that contains the words "open," "value," and "subscription," none of which are common to Microsoft products, culture, or marketing.

Digging in a bit, I found myself confused not only by what the program portends to be but why it would be called it "Open Value Subscription," unless they were hoping to leverage buzzwords and concepts related to open source and SaaS (software as a service). It's such lame and dishonest branding, the marketing group should be ashamed.

Here's how the Open Value Subscription is explained on Microsoft Senior Manager Eric Ligman's blog:

The Microsoft Open Value Subscription Program provides a way for SMB customers to "subscribe" to the Microsoft software they want to utilize in their businesses in a "lease-like" fashion. This option provides the up-front cost-saving benefits of a lease-type model (no, it's not an actual lease) where they can pay to use the software for a set period of time with the flexibility to increase or decrease in size as their business size does year over year. At the end of the initial term, clients have the options to continue the subscription, buy out the subscription to own the licenses, or to end the subscription. In addition, your clients may be eligible to receive significant savings and price benefits at the time they enter into a Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreement if they own current versions or one version prior to current versions of Microsoft software already!

So if I read this right:

  • There is nothing open about the code or the contract as you have to use the software for a set period of time.
  • The value isn't really there, as there is no cost-benefit.
  • It's not really a subscription as "lease-like" means it's a perpetual license--you just absorb the cost over time instead of upfront.
  • If you already bought all the Microsoft software, you might get a discount if you buy this muck too.

Confused? Seems other people were as well. Eric provides some more information in this post, which confused me even more. Maybe if I were a part of the monopoly I would understand better.

All of the Open License Programs Microsoft offers are through-Partner licensing models, meaning that customers acquire their software licenses from a Microsoft Reseller, who in turn, acquires the licensing from a Microsoft Volume Licensing Distributor. With the introduction of Open Value Subscription here in the U.S., this model will remain the same. Customers will acquire their Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreements through a Microsoft reseller and the Microsoft resellers will acquire the Open Value Subscription Agreements for their clients from a Microsoft Volume Licensing Distributor. As noted in my original post, every single reseller out there will be able to sell the Open Value Subscription Licensing option to their clients upon launch in March, if they choose to. Just like the other Open License Programs, resellers do not need to obtain any special authorization to sell these licenses to their clients. So as you can see, all Open Value Subscription License Agreements will be transacted through Microsoft resellers, just like Open Business and Open Value Agreements are today.
Program misnomer aside, I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to do business with Microsoft. For that matter, when I read things like this, I can't believe that anyone can do business with Microsoft.