As part of regular and ongoing customer engagement, Microsoft Worldwide Licensing and Pricing (WWLP) executives, Joe Matz, Microsoft corporate vice president (second from left), and Richard Smith, general manager of business marketing (at right), headed over to Hanover, Germany, to meet with chief information officers (CIOs) from several of Europe’s largest companies in conjunction with CeBIT 2011, the biggest worldwide IT fair. Over several days they visited with and listened to customer feedback, as well as shared their latest thinking related to the rapidly evolving strategies regarding licensing and pricing.

Both Matz and Smith underscored the importance of customer feedback as they met with representatives of EuroCIO and The Corporate IT Forum. They thanked the members for the rich dialogue, which is integral to producing mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, improvements made to licensing scenarios and license management capabilities by the introduction of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) 5.0 toolkit were a direct result of collaboration through this community. The meeting also offered attendees the opportunity to hear more details about Microsoft’s licensing priorities with respect to cloud computing.

Market trends such as consumerization of IT, dynamic workforce demand and infrastructure optimization are all reasons to expect evolution of licensing solutions with updates to Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement program, according to Matz. Attending CIOs confirmed the additional flexibility of licensing under the updated Enterprise Agreement and were interested in more details on how the updated program will work with Microsoft Office 365 and how they would transfer from the existing Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite offering. Smooth license management over time through continuous transitions, as well as clarity around how customers will be charged, remain top-of-mind for these, and no doubt other, CIOs.

 Microsoft licensing priorities shared with MBUF

Also during CeBIT, a meeting of the Microsoft Business User Forum (MBUF) executive board provided Matz and Smith with another opportunity to listen to and share updates with this community of CIOs of medium- to large-sized businesses. Feedback from companies of all sizes is important to Microsoft. Together, the breadth of dialogue informs future enhancements to licensing models to suit a broad range of company profiles.

After Matz presented an outlook of Microsoft licensing priorities for the future, participating customers agreed that the priorities are aligned with what they’d like to focus on within their community and with Microsoft.

Of particular importance to this audience is the updated Enterprise Agreement and how it works in conjunction with on-premises licensing and private cloud deployments. Matz confirmed that Microsoft is working on solutions that will make Microsoft Service Provider solutions easier.

Another key takeaway from the conversation was that MBUF appreciates the investment in supporting resources, whether in the form of toolkits, such as MAP 5.0, or subject-matter expertise from Microsoft staff. Again, Matz and Smith agreed that WWLP will continue to cultivate regional expertise within the local Microsoft team to enhance interactions with MBUF.

Both Matz and Smith returned to Redmond energized after directly connecting with this broad cross-section of European customers. Actively listening to and integrating customer feedback into future planning and execution is a high priority for Microsoft, including the Worldwide Licensing and Pricing team. The process ultimately yields tools such as the updated Enterprise Agreement, which aims to modernize Microsoft Volume Licensing models and represents a significant evolution that further embraces the cloud — a topic that is at the forefront of most CIO-level conversations.

To learn more about Microsoft Volume Licensing, as well as ongoing developments within the WWLP group, please bookmark this blog, follow us on Twitter, @Msft_VL and/or explore our Website at Microsoft.com/licensing.