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Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business

 

I got this comment recently on one of the blogs and decided to respond to each part as it covers so many topics.

It seems you have some useful info, albeit widely available, info here, thanks. MS raised its action pack pricing by 50% a few years back. And yes, if you were to use the various server licenses, it would be a fair value. I choose the word fair intentionally, as the intent is, or should be, for IT companies to become experienced with its product, in order to do what?… sell it! The action pack is all about generating sales. We should get it free.

The info here is available in other places, but people were having trouble finding it, so I brought it all together in one place.

With regard to the Action Pack being free - I completely disagree - If you are selling almost any other product (in any industry) - you might get demonstration items, one or two people might even get the odd free item, but many people will not be able to run their business of of it.  You can get eval copies of Vista & Office - online trials etc, but if you can't see the value in the products (yes, even the upgrades, Office 2007 and the servers) when you are paying a fraction of the price that your customers are paying then I personally doubt it is right for you - at £200, £500 or £0.  You are running a business, just like your many of your customers - you invest in that business and this is not a large investment.  Does Intel or AMD give you free processors for all your systems when a new one comes out?  How about your hardware, Internet connection or so on.  If you are selling to home users, they have to pay quite a chunk for the hardware, software and your time - if you can't honestly say "I would spend that money on that" that I am sure your customers will figure it out.

End user experiences, either SMB, corporate, individual or otherwise should be the primary concern. In short, I obviously don’t have direct access to the volume of consultants you said you do, but I can’t find anyone, online or otherwise, that’s happy with this “upgrade only” NEW policy with regard to our action pack subscriptions. It’s just Vista on the cheap. That’s not what we were expecting, not what we were sold, and not what we should’ve received. No advanced notifications of MS’s changes in policy were ever given us; as in, take it or leave it! That’s a bully tactic. Being in this field for almost 20 years now, I suspect there are other technical reasons other than revenue here for distributing upgrades, but I’ll refrain until I can substantiate that further. If you have the experience you say you do, you’ll know what I’m referring to.

End users are the primary concern - as I have said lots, the time to upgrade is different for everyone - however you need to be able to help your customers understand when they will get value from moving forward or not and how.  I am pretty certain that you already know how to turn on a PC with an OEM OS loaded, so understanding the upgrade process is vital.

The Action Pack is not just about providing cheap Vista licenses and if you thought it was, then the Action Pack is not the product for you.  I agree that people would prefer OEM media, but given the issues we had around Piracy, that was not an option.  What more people are saying is that since there is a way to do a clean install from the media, it is not a big issue - they don't build a new machine every day for their own internal use.  The change in the license type was communicated last year and while many people missed the communication it was not written in 2point text.  I don't understand why you feel this is bullying - the install process requires you to have a legal OS, and might take longer, but that is it.  If YOUR business MUST have the action Pack so much that it can't run without it, then I could understand, but it is just some software, which if you don't see great value in, ignore.  If you don't think the Action Pack delivers value to you at its current price, then don't use it.

I'm obviously too naive to understand the "other" reasons - feel free to privately mail them to me.  And yes, I have been in IT for 21-22 years now.

Any consultant worth his very expensive and long hard earning training will tell you, (I’m shocked you fail to acknowledge this) is that major OS upgrades are the least, and often times, not desirable. Secondly, few OS’s are distributed in the form of upgrades; most will come with new PCs, something Vista will require for most, or from admin distribution, again, in the form of full clean installations. I have no clue where, with Vista no less, you can even speculate that upgrades will be the norm? Sorry, but that comment is completely specious. Because you are employed by MS, I really don’t expect objectivity, but upgrades will be the very smallest percentage of installs.

This one is of interest to me. Upgrading an OS for no business benefit is a pain, however, changing the IT for business benefit is always desirable.  I have upgraded Mainframes, Unix, Linux and almost all flavours of Microsoft OS - I've got the T-shirt.  I've done migrations, in-place upgrades and clean installs throwing away everything that was there before.  As I said before, I think we need to be able to do them all, not just the OEM installs.  What is more - you can learn about the OEM install process by not using a product key - for your own internal use, we require a qualifying OS - use the legally licensed XP you already have.  For people who "buy" Vista in a box, unless they buy the product that is more expensive and is not in the form of an "upgrade" then this is what they will have to do.  For volume license and OEM installs (OEM supplied PCs being the most common) then life is easier.  Of course, when you buy your next PC it will need an OS shipped on it, so why not get Vista?

In short, there’s absolutely no reason action pack subscribers should not have received full version installs. Because of this, we will evaluate the “value” in continuing this subscription. $300.00 a year minimum for this hardly seems worth it anymore. I’d just as soon buy my oem software online like everyone does.

I am sorry you feel like this, but as always, you should never just buy action pack because we say so - it MUST add value to your business. If Vista, Office, Small Business software and all the rest does not add up to value -don't get it - I would never disagree with this

All this at a time when the pressure on those of us still making a living in this field has increased exponentially. I haven’t had a single person under thirty years old ask about a PC this year! Everyday, my company gets calls asking, “Do you sell Mac’s?”

Well, we do hear some people saying that - and Apple's market share is around 3-5%.  A recent report suggested that would not change because of Vista.  I know many people under 30 (yes I am still young enough to do so) and I don't see your experience repeated here.  Macs are great machines - they look great and due to the much lower internal hardware support options, run along just fine.  But they also run Vista and lots of people are doing that.  They are sexy, but not critical.

Between Apple and Google, I fear those of us in this field will become extinct long before retirement. My fear is that MS is headed the way IBM did more than a decade ago. They’ve lost touch with the consumer, and now most of us as well. They seem to have become the very thing they hated most 20 years ago or so when competing against IBM. They’ve gotten arrogant, wealthy, fat and old, and I fear will soon fade into the background.

I really don't think this is about to happen - we have our faults and competition is always hotting up, but we are trying - why would I be engaging in this conversation if we did not want to ensure MS and the partners have a bright future?  Why is Microsoft investing in ways to make the Live Platform pro-partners where as Google is so "what-ever" to them?  However, as another person said on my blog - if you see the opportunity elsewhere, if I was you, I would chase it!!

Sure there will always be an IBM, at least in the foreseeable future. Just as there will always be a Ford, a GM, Chrysler… or will there be? No American aspires to own an American car. Success is driving German or Japanese. Just as no one under 30 want’s a PC (or a Zune for that matter). 

While many people want Apple, many people don't - I will post on the backlash later.  I have hried 5 graduates into my area of the busienss alone over the last 2 years - with hundreds of Graduates applying for each position.  I have seen Zunes in the UK, even though they have not shipped here yet.  People said our mobile devices would never take off, yet now Palm use our OS on their latest device and the market is appreciating what we can offer.  Since I am a school governor - I can tell you people under 30 want PCs - perhaps those who already have one also want an Apple, but I don't know - I see lots of people who think Apples are sexy, then ask about gaming, parental controls and many other requirements and choose a PC. 

This generation, those that will run industry in the up and coming decade, want Apple. It’s our job to try and prevent, or delay that. This doesn’t help at all.

Our job is not to prevent people from getting what they want - it is to give them what they want.  If it is not Microsoft - tell us, but please don't try to not give them what they want.

thanks

 

David Overton (Microsoft employee and individual)


Posted Fri, Feb 16 2007 4:32 PM by David Overton

Comments

Grant wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Sat, Feb 17 2007 11:33 PM

Whoevver posted that to you David was really right on.  Some of your comments, seem to be overly critical and over aggressive and dare I say stubborn.  Microsofts latest play regarding the vista upgrades has already made me evaluate ubuntu for our servers(to which I was pleasantly surprised) and make me look at macs for my solutions for my office.(which are due for upgrade)  I personally believe that Maps customers are calling out to Microsoft and unless we see some shifts in policy us influencers are going to be moving to other solutions.. how much longer would it take for our customers to follow?

#1 rule is to listen to your customers...and microsoft seems to have completely ignored even their partners so their customers don't stand a chance.....

David Overton wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Sun, Feb 18 2007 2:28 PM

Grant,

Microsoft spends a huge amount of time listening to partners and customers - the fact that we can only supply Upgrade media is not evidence that we don't listen.  If you read the FAQ - every other concern that people had has been addressed - the right to use previous versions supplied with Action Pack, how to do a clean install using upgrade media, building demo systems, demoing Vista Ultimate, documenting  the anytime upgrade path and point out cheaper sites for anytime upgrade besides that supplied by Microsoft.  Hopefully the FAQ shows just how much we listen and respond.  We have responded to every concern raised by partners except 1 - OEM vs Upgrade media.

The reason for changing from OEM to upgrade was because we saw HUGE piracy on the action Pack keys and media.  You still have 10 copies of the OS - the ONLY impact is when installing it on a system is that you have to boot from an existing Windows OS - you can still do a clean install from there.

If the ONLY value you saw in the Action Pack was the OS, then the upgrade media is still in it and has got to be just 20%ish of the retail media price in the shops - an 80% discount is pretty fantastic.  However, you have already mentioned Windows Server which is included and I would hope that Office is good for you too.  Many people find the products in Action Pack good to use in their business and find that it helps them to be in business.  We review the list of products desired and add to the list shipped based on the feedback.

As a Microsoft registered partner you get the Action Pack for own use software, access to sales and marketing materials, the ability to come to seminars that are limited to partners and more.  As a SBSC partner  (in the UK) you also get to be listed before all other come the top of the list of partners in the Small Business Referral tool, access to Managed Newsgroups which is paid for support and access to events and people restricted to SBSC membership.  As a Certified and above partner you get paid for telephone support, MSDN access and more licenses, plus a dedicated account manager.

I think the benefits you get are amazing, and would be hard to beat.  Every Microsoft programme is heavily steered by feedback from partners and customer, so listening is something we take very seriously.

In fact to put this issue in perspective, partners complaints have dropped here in the UK recently meaning that we are just not seeing people getting excited about this issue.

Having said all of that, you should always be evaluating what is right for your customers and your business - if you don't think it is Microsoft, don't sell them Microsoft.  You are in business for you, not for Microsoft.  I would not expect a £200 kit from Microsoft to be the swaying factor.  Obviously it is great to hear things you want changed, but sometimes the changes are not all possible.  I used to sell and configure Linux and Unix Servers and I am glad to be in the Windows world.

If you really want Microsoft to know how much you dislike the changes - contact your regions support centre and tell them - my blog is not official enough for them to use in their partner satisfaction information.

thanks

David

David Overton wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Sun, Feb 18 2007 2:57 PM

One final thing, lets consider what people used to do who pirated Action Pack:

1) They used to sell PCs to people who did not know they were getting Action Pack licenses

2) They would use it to make quotes to customers cheaper for deploying solutions to them

3) They used to use it instead of buying legally licenses software.

For options 1 & 2, if you were competing against these people honestly, your prices always appeared uncompetitive.  With the latest changes, this is no longer the case as they can't use this mechanism to beat you

For option 3, they would not give you any revenue to buy software, but migth expect you to support it if you supplied the hardware - not exactly the fairest thing to do.  Again, this becomes harder with the changes in Action Pack.

ttfn

David

Alasdair Stewart wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Tue, Feb 20 2007 8:25 PM

Hi David,

I'm sure most of us here have heard of the way to 'trick' the Vista upgrade process by installing twice. As that's the case, then your points are surely again moot?

1) They can still do this

2) They can still do this

3) They can still do this

Microsoft have, fairly or unfairly, been criticised that WGA and the other anti-piracy stuff only affects the honest consumer and the dishonest pirate keeps going. Extending this to Action packs again makes little difference, those wanting to be dishonest can still do that (with an extra 45 minutes work), and only continues to alienate those who actually pay for and use them properly.

David Overton wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Wed, Feb 21 2007 9:01 AM

Alasdair,

These changes are not the only ones made to Action Pack - the process of screening who gets them has changed considerably. As have other processes - we will continue to have a multi-pronged attack on piracy.

The upgrade "trick" as you put it is known about, but it is now harder for people to pass this off as OEM media or a "OEM Recovery Disk" with their label on it.  We also always look for ways to lock these sorts of issues down.

We are also running a campaign to get people to "tell" on partners who are doing this so we can remove their actions from market.

Of course the actions of pirates and our response impacts us all and while this is not desirable, as I said, with the UK having a "low" piracy rate on Windows at >10%, we have to find ways to make it harder all round for pirates.

However, coming back to my point - how many times do you really, really, do an install where there is NO OS on the system using your action pack licenses? Think carefully as the maximum answer lies in the licenses. It must have taken me a good extra 2-3 minutes to do a clean install from a machine that already had XP on it, and that included the wiping of the hard disk.

Finally, While I do appreciate the problems it cause, we really, really, really, need to see the complaints hit our indicators (this is anicodtal through this blog and hopefully, through all the other information we have provided I hope you can see that we do care and try to share information and processes).

Please, please, please contact the regional service center if you wish to let Microsoft know what an impact this makes on your business.  https://partners.microsoft.com/PartnerProgram/ContactMicrosoft.aspx has all the details on it.

Neil Davis wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Tue, Feb 27 2007 9:29 PM

Sure there will always be an IBM, at least in the foreseeable future. Just as there will always be a Ford, a GM, Chrysler… or will there be? No American aspires to own an American car. Success is driving German or Japanese. Just as no one under 30 want’s a PC (or a Zune for that matter).

/*****************************************/

Not that my opinion matters, since I am an American, but this statement is completely moronic. I am a successful application developer, in that I make decent money and I am employed. I used to drive a BMW 3 series.

I now drive a 2007 Ford Mustang. The above statement is wrong LMAO. At least one American drives an American car. I can afford overpriced imports with horrible maintenance records and crap quality, but I like the Mustang better. I got sick of all the BMW BS. Before you blast me for being wasteful, my car gets 26MPG on highway, 18 avg. It's about the same as the 325 or the 4 cyl Volvo turbo I have. Fit and finish is excellent, and I even have heated leather.

European and Japanese cars are not all they are cracked up to be. In fact with the spate of Audi, BMW, and Mini problems plaguing drivers of these cars, and the lack of personality inherent in Japanese cars, I'm glad I bought American. www.consumeraffairs.org if you don't believe me.

Talk to me about not wanting American cars while I'm winding past 80MPH in 3rd gear with some G loading pushing me deep into the seat, car not in the shop for the 8th time on the same problem. I think you are thinking of the K-Car and this sentiment is decidedly 1986.

-Neil

David Overton wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Tue, Feb 27 2007 11:24 PM

Neil,

your comments are very valid - there is nothing wrong with American cars - I spent 5 fantasic years with a ford and several years with what was a GM car (Vauxhall in the UK).  However, we should also recognise that all the products out there - cars or computers, have a place.  Some people want Apple - that is their choice.  Me, I don't find them useful enough, so I want a PC.

Thanks for your comments though.

bigdavejonnyt wrote re: Its not often I get a comment that makes me respond on a personal level, but here is one. Action Pack, life expectance of Microsoft and your business
on Tue, Mar 20 2007 4:38 PM

Swift car related comment then you can all get back to banging on about h/ware and s/ware.

Neil - A Ford over an Audi?

Ha [repeat to fade]

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