The software giant said today it is introducing Microsoft Licensing Online, a Web-based ordering system that could make the company's software more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses, and allow then to take advantage of price discounts formerly reserved for large customers.
Microsoft said that through the program, which will be offered through resellers including License Online, Computer Discount Warehouse, and Insight, businesses with as few as five employees will be eligible for volume discount levels good for up to two years.
For instance, through the program, a small business can purchase five Office 97 Professional licenses for $466 each. The non-discounted price normally charged to small businesses for the same software is $599, Microsoft said. For larger orders the discount would be even greater, the company claims.
To use the service, buyers must complete an online form on Microsoft's Web site, then choose a reseller.
The program may help fend off incursions into Microsoft's user base from Linux and open source software providers. Mainstream business application software makers, including Corel and Lotus, now offer Linux versions of their products.
Microsoft has recently come under heat for eliminating concurrent licensing options for buyers of its Office and BackOffice products, which can make the software much more expensive to license.