Microsoft has tweaked Windows and some Office 2007 licenses so people who rent PCs to customers - like internet cafes and business centers - can do so legally.
The company has introduced the Rental Rights license for Office Professional Plus 2007, Office Standard 2007, and Windows across the globe following international trials last year.
The change means organizations can rent, lease, or outsource PCs running Windows, and these version of Office on PCs in internet cafes or other organizations or on kiosks in airport and hotels without needing a monthly subscription that required monthly administration and payment under Microsoft's Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA).
Prior to January, you were not supposed to have rented or leased Windows or Office unless you had an SPLA. This meant companies either broke Microsoft's license or had to commit to a big, complex, on-going SPLA. This lacked flexibility and proved expensive.
Microsoft has ushered in the change with a promotional offer until June 30, pricing the company said saves up to 30 per cent on the usual price.
"Directions on Microsoft" analyst Paul De Groot, who flagged up Rental Rights said the promotional price for Office Professional Plus is $58 versus the standard $83 and $45 for Office Standard versus $64, while Windows is offered at $23 compared to the usual price of $32. These are one-time payments.
De Groot called the pricing attractive as rental outfits could spread the cost across a lot of customers.
"It could give a boost to internet cafes, companies renting rather than buying computers, etc," he told The Reg, noting this was "good for seasonal businesses who could rent additional PCs for a short time, then send them back."
The change also means companies can continue to offer their customers machines stacked with Windows or Office 2007 without the Microsoft license police shutting them down. That meant not just lost business for Microsoft, but also a lost opportunity in getting its software in front of more users.
"In the past the Microsoft police would say: 'You can’t do this, we have to shut your business down'. You had to find someone who wanted to become a service provider, so in effect you were shutting a lot of people down. This looks a lot better," De Groot said.
Microsoft's partner site said of the change: "Rental Rights are a simple way for organizations to get a waiver of these licensing restrictions through a one-time license transaction valid for the term of the underlying software license or life of the PC." ®