What’s assuring about software assurance?

September 25 2009

With open licensing (explained in our Business Brief on software license types), Microsoft offers an additional option called “Software Assurance.” If you enroll in SA, you get access to all versions of the software that are available during that period, including both upgrades (new releases) and downgrades (older versions).

For example, if you’re using Office 2003 and Office 2007 is released — or Office 2010, due in October — you get it for free if you have SA. Or if you buy a new workstation loaded with 2010 but prefer to run 2007, you can downgrade at no cost, then upgrade again later if you wish.

SA also comes with enhanced support options, training, huge discounts on home-use copies, and other benefits.

The program is automatically included with some open-license plans, while with others it’s an add-on cost: approximately 29% of the regular license fee per year for workstation software, and 25% for server applications.

The program is unlikely to save you money on actual software purchases, but it can pay for itself in reduced total cost of ownership through the flexibility it provides.

Like most IT decisions, this one is best made with your individual needs in mind. So don’t hesitate to ask!