Really interesting article over at ComputerWorld (7/16/07) regarding Microsoft's Software Assurance program. In a nutshell the author says that "software assurance is for losers".
The basic problem is that customers who have signed up for SA are seeing that they aren't getting upgrades during the term of their SA agreement. So, it's obvious in those cases that it would have been better to not subscribe to SA and just acquire the upgrades once they were released. He specifically mentions that customers who subscribed to SA and expected to get Vista or Office 2007 got screwed.
According to the author, Forrester says 25% who subscribed to SA won't renew. That's big. Both from a revenue perspective and from a problem-to-solve perspective. The author's basic view is that product slips are costing SA customers more than non-SA customers because they are paying for the SA "service" and end up having to purchase the software anyway when it slips and becomes generally available after their SA contract expires.
Product managers and business owners at Microsoft aren't paying enough attention to "providing value for SA subscribers" and they should be...