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Microsoft Licensing Documentation Gets Facelift

Microsoft recently published the results of its biggest overhaul of the customer- and partner-facing documents that explain licensing since 2005.

The redesigned Product Use Rights (PUR) document and Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR) document were made available on Oct. 1.

"I would say bravo to the centralized licensing team. Someone put a lot of thought into this," Rob Horwitz, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said in an interview. "I wouldn't be surprised if hundreds of thousands of dollars or maybe low seven figures went into vetting this design."

Horwitz, who published an analysis of the PUR and SPUR changes on the independent analyst firm's Web site, explained that the PUR and SPUR changes don't change licensing terms, only the way the terms are presented.

"I don't want to make it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread," Horwitz said. "But it's a really nice effort by the centralized licensing group, who don't have a huge amount of control over what the individual product groups' decisions are."

Licensing terms reflect the Microsoft product groups' control over how products are licensed. "When a product group is deciding on what the rules are, it's looking a lot more at what are customers saying and what are competitors doing," Horwitz said. Consistency across all of Microsoft's licensing terms is a second-tier concern, he noted.

The cosmetic and organizational changes to the PUR and SPUR improve the documents by making information pertaining to each product mostly contiguous, by giving the whole document a better graphic design that makes it easier to navigate and by providing important context up front. On the last point, for example, Horwitz said, the document now states clearly that product-specific rules trump other types of licensing rules.

One thing the 2005 redesign attempted was brevity, but in some cases that came at the expense of clarity, Horwitz said, and in any case, the document got longer over time anyway. "It grew from 44 pages to 123 pages," Horwitz said. The new version is more than 150 pages.

In his report, Horwitz summarizes, "The new PUR format should allow customers and partners to find answers to many types of product and online services licensing questions more quickly and promises to be less intimidating to first-time users."


Posted by Scott Bekker on October 05, 2011


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