According to Gartner, enterprises that want to buy upgrades for the latest version of Microsoft products should do so by September 30. After that date, Version Upgrades, Product Upgrades, Competitive Upgrades, and Language Upgrades will no longer be available. Microsoft has extended the Upgrade Advantage (UA) maintenance plan until February 28, 2002.

Enterprises that require UA should terminate their Open Authorization or Select Agreements and enter into new v.5 agreements before September 30 to get the longest upgrade coverage. For enterprises that want to maintain upgrade protection, failure to take these steps will result in a significant cost penalty. Although UA is supposedly a 2-year offering, the program actually runs concurrently with the Select or Open contract term. Enterprises that signed agreements in 2000 can purchase UA until February 2002, but they'll pay for 2 years and get coverage for only 7 months (i.e., the remainder of the contract term). In addition, they'll have to sign a Select v.6 agreement earlier than they would have and enroll their licenses in the Software Assurance (SA) program. To get an extra year of SA, these enterprises will pay 29 percent of the license fee per year for desktop applications and 25 percent for server products. For example, for Microsoft Office Standard at current Select "B" estimated retail pricing ($349), an enterprise with 5000 desktops would pay more than $500,000. It could save that cost by simply terminating its contracts and re-entering new v.5 agreements before September 30.

Enterprises whose Select v.4 or v.5 contracts expire between October 1 and February 28 run the risk that they won't be able to repurchase UA at all. Although Microsoft has extended the UA deadline until February 28, enterprises can purchase UA only under a Select or Open v.5 or earlier agreement. Because Microsoft's new v.6 Open and Select licensing programs become available on October 1, whether Microsoft will let enterprises renew v.5 or older agreements past that date is unknown. When these enterprises next want to upgrade, they'll probably have to repurchase their licenses to get the most current version, then buy SA to stay current (at 25 to 29 percent of the license fee annually).