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Microsoft Plays Hardball With Vista Licensing

In an effort to build a more predictable revenue stream from its Software Assurance annuity program, Microsoft is only making the enterprise version of its upcoming Vista release available to those who sign on to that program or have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in place. While Microsoft's reasons for playing hardball are certainly understandable, the maneuver feels harsh.Michael Silver, a Gartner Research Vice President, said that four Vista Enterprise features will be excluded from the versions sold in volume. The features include a drive encryption technology, a "lite" version of Virtual PC, and technology for running Unix aplications, and a multilanguage interface.

Silver said that Microsoft, which is clearly trying to lure more licensees to its annuity programs, had the option of boosting the features of SA or compelling companies to join up by withholding features. Microsoft chose the latter, strongarm approach.