From: Peter Davis, Head of IT services, Sentinel Housing Association
Sir – It seems that we are mourning the end of the agreements with Microsoft that allowed housing providers to purchase licences at academic prices.
Over the past few weeks, there has been some arguing that this was an anomaly that was being corrected so we should just shrug our shoulders and accept the change.
This argument would be stronger if Microsoft had provided a reasonable notice period for the change. But they didn’t and we find ourselves with increased costs within the budget year and therefore other projects will suffer. Some of us may be part way through a selection and procurement exercise for a new system with one or more of the proposed solutions utilising Microsoft products. We may therefore need to completely re-evaluate the proposals. Would this risk have been identified at the start of the project? Unlikely.
As we move forward with our budget submissions for next year, we will be able to take into account the increased costs and most of us will grin and bear it, continuing to use Microsoft products in preference to others. Indeed for areas such as comms room licences, servers, databases and Exchange, we have little choice but to continue with the Microsoft infrastructure we already have in place.
Does this strengthen the argument against the price increase? I suspect it does. It feels like Microsoft has locked us into their products by keeping prices artificially low and then pulled the rug from under us.
Is there an upside to all this? Perhaps. Academic pricing for Microsoft products has skewed our view of the software market. We happily provide all staff with Microsoft Office, complete with all that functionality which hardly gets used. This may well result in inflated training costs and reduced productivity for some.
Now, where’s that copy of OpenOffice?