Sunday, 1 July 2012

Computer Blue(s)

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK

It’s shaping up to be a rainy and expensive month for housing associations and housing groups as Microsoft have decided that these organisations no longer qualify as charity, for licensing purposes, unless at least 10% of income comes from donations. Now I haven’t seen a technical definition of ‘donation’, although I can guess which one might be appropriate.

This moves housing associations and groups into the public sector licensing agreement and for most a price hike of an eye watering 400% to the PSA12 framework. Changes take place in September, although already budgets will have been revised to take this incredible hit into account. A mad rush to buy cheap licences will surely take place for the next few weeks.

Microsoft said in a statement: “Microsoft's new discount frameworks recognise the increasing importance of the UK’s 70,000 social enterprises in driving public services. The new frameworks for social enterprises complement the discounts and free options already available to 174,000 UK charities, as well as public sector organisations and public sector mutual’s.

“Charitable organisations and social enterprises looking to buy new technologies from Microsoft will be entitled to different levels of discount depending on their levels of voluntary contribution or how they generate their revenue, if applicable.".

Microsoft will also be increasing private sector prices by at least 25% too this month, in order to “harmonise prices and licensing terms across Europe”. This is a major part of its world portfolio and as many others have said, it risks alienating some of Microsoft’s best customers.

So what are the alternatives? Many of the base components are out there, but how well would the mainstream HMS (Housing Management System) providers interface to OpenOffice or some of the other open source alternatives? Some food for thought here 

We may not particularly like Microsoft, but housing has got quite hooked on its Office Suites, server software and other applications. Now we are all going to pay for it. Too late now to consider what else you could have bought. From now on, we all need to have every option on the table. Stretching software for longer, missing upgrades for example might help in delaying the pain.

There is still the CTX programme. See . This would help many of the smaller organisations and even the community library project, which I am involved with in South Warrington, Cheshire. But you have to be a true charity. Even after an admin fee, savings of 92-96% on retail prices are claimed.

With these additional strains on budgets, many will be tempted to approach their bigger HMS and infrastructure suppliers for some annual savings. It’s certainly worth a try, particularly when you size up the cost of a new system compared with your existing annual maintenance. With 10 or more years of RPI adding compound interest every annum, you may be re-buying your system every 3 years. Come to think of it, that Microsoft price hike may not be that large after all......

The only thing for sure, cash spent on this will be just a little more having to be diverted from neighbourhoods, residents and front line services.

Read on to : Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger..

Prince. Now would he have put up with this?...

(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting

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1 comment:

  1. We've just renewed our PS12 eligibility with Microsoft earlier this month, they require that these three questions are answered 'Yes'. Maybe worth HA's taking to their licencing partners about it.

    • Do the revenues/profits of your organisation go solely to UK Government (no profits go to private shareholders)?

    • Is your organisation exempt from corporation tax?

    • Is your organisation finance more than 50% by UK Government (i.e. does it derive less than 50% of its funding from commercial activities)?