Mark Sager, MCSE, ASE, is pushing his customers to upgrade to Windows 2000 Professional.

Sager said he can’t recommend it enough. “Finally, a stable OS that we can actually work on,” he said. “I would like all my customers to upgrade to it as soon as possible—I think they’d all be a lot happier.”

The senior engineer for Savant Solutions, Inc.—a New York-based provider of IT products, services, and support—has handled the purchasing of OS licenses for many customers. He said there’s a market for IT consultants who want to help customers through their Windows 2000 upgrades—provided that they’re willing to handle the licensing issues, because many customers just don’t want to deal with them. Here’s a brief look at what consultants need to know about advising customers on Windows 2000 Professional licensing.

Dealing with the details
Pricing of the new licenses may surprise some Microsoft customers—in particular, a significant increase in the cost to upgrade a Windows NT or Windows 95 or 98 license to Windows 2000. The majority of Sager’s clients haven’t dealt with volume licensing programs in the past, but this is changing as Savant migrates some of its larger clients to Windows 2000.

“Frankly, most of our clients don’t want to be bothered with details or what they may see as minutiae,” Sager explained. “They want to know what their money is buying, but if they understand that they have to purchase the licensing to accomplish the project, they will generally do so without wanting to know any more than that.”

Aside from the cost increases, upgrading a customer to Windows 2000 is fairly straightforward, provided you do a little homework. Of course, you’ll first need to check all applications for compatibility, conduct a complete inventory of the available hardware, and upgrade any hardware or third party software.

Next comes the licensing component. If a customer will be upgrading from Windows NT to Windows 2000, they’re already a step ahead.

“Different customers have different needs, but (almost) everyone needs a little bit of education when it comes NT licensing,” Sager said. “Since our customers use almost exclusively 9x and NT4 on the desktop, upgrades to Pro are simple. You just buy the requisite number of upgrade licenses.”

A quick look at licensing costs

Windows 2000 Professional pricing guide (courtesy of Microsoft)

Customers who are enrolled in Upgrade Advantage/Maintenance with volume licensing or as part of an Enterprise Agreement are eligible to receive upgrades to the equivalent Windows 2000 product for no additional charge. The following table shows Upgrade Advantage/Maintenance coverage and its corresponding free product upgrades.

Free upgrades

Gartner, an IT research consultancy based in Stamford, CT, notes that upgrade costs can be reduced by purchasing version upgrade licenses instead of Upgrade Advantage or phasing in new hardware with Windows 2000 as devices are replaced.

Consultants at Savant always double-check themselves on licenses for their customers, Sager noted.

“Since we have the opportunity to work with distributors like Tech Data and Ingram Micro, we use their in-house licensing desks to make sure we’ve determined what the precise licensing requirements will be,” he said. “That’s one reason we do a complete inventory before an upgrade—we need to know exactly which operating systems [a client has] and how many of them are in use.”
Is it important for consultants to handle licensing agreements as part of their service offerings to clients? Why or why not? Post a comment below or send us a note.