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Microsoft Won't Charge More for Multicore Licenses 234

Posted by timothy
from the great-order-up-a-few-dozen-cores dept.
esimp writes "According to technewsworld: 'As servers with dual-core processors come closer to hitting the market, Microsoft announced today it will not base its per-processor software licensing charges on the number of cores in a chip, sticking to the traditional price per processor, regardless of its number of cores." Update: 10/20 00:37 GMT by T : One of the identical links to TechNewsWorld's story has now been deleted.
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Microsoft Won't Charge More for Multicore Licenses

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  • by byolinux (535260) * on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:21PM (#10570531) Journal
    Who actually monitors the 'daddypants' account anyway? I know the number of times I've bothered to report errors has been greater than the number of replies I've got or number of errors fixed (ie. none)

    Anyway, um, lovely that Microsoft aren't charging for multicore licenses. I'm still amazed they even charge for SMP licenses.
    • It depends on who is monitoring the account, I suppose. But on the whole, I've noticed that Jeff Bates (Jamie) is a whole lot more responsive and fixes the errors.

      There've been times when I've mailed DP for someone else's story, and Jeff mails me back. But to be fair, there've been times when Timothy has responded, too.

      So, I guess it really is a question of how much time they have - for Slashdot :)
    • by ackthpt (218170) *
      Who actually monitors the 'daddypants' account anyway? I know the number of times I've bothered to report errors has been greater than the number of replies I've got or number of errors fixed (ie. none)

      You daft bugger! Wasn't it obvious? They're both on the same core!

      Anyway, um, lovely that Microsoft aren't charging for multicore licenses. I'm still amazed they even charge for SMP licenses.

      Discount on bugs donchaknow.

    • by arcanumas (646807) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:47PM (#10570750) Homepage
      It's a dual core article :)
    • by GFLPraxis (745118) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:18PM (#10570989) Homepage Journal
      I'd expect that this has more to do with Intel than with Microsoft.

      Intel has hit a brick wall. They're having a hard time increasing processor speeds. At some point, they'll realize that the best way to get a processing speed boost is to slap a second core in the processor and call it a Pentium 5 or Pentium 4 Ultra or something like that, and sell it in high end desktops like Alienware.

      Guess what happens if Microsoft charges per core? Intel won't be too happy with them...
      • they'll realize that the best way to get a processing speed boost is to slap a second core in the processor and call it a Pentium 5 or Pentium 4 Ultra or something like that

        Or they could skip straight to P6 (though wasn't that the codename of the Pentium Pro core?) and put multiple Pentium M cores on one die, which would probably run even faster.

  • Obviously (Score:2, Insightful)

    by usefool (798755)
    Maybe MS thinks they can't really argue processor = core. Well, actually they can if they wanted to.

    But more seriously, is it a sign that MS has more benefits from this arrangement?
    • Re:Obviously (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rosyna (80334)
      I don't know... I don't know of a Linux vender that charges per Processor. Nor does Apple charge more for OS X server on a dual proc machine.
      • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

        by slash-tard (689130) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:42PM (#10570700)
        Redhat ES vs AS server are based on CPU.
        • I'm not so sure you can draw the same parallel here ... AS is supposed to have more features than ES, aside from the appropriateness of it being able to run on "More than 2 processors". But if you bought AS, it would cost you the same no matter how many processors you ran it on (1, 2, 4, ...). Admittedly ES is supposed to only scale up to 2 processors. Anyone out there try to run ES on something that has more than two processors? Results?
      • by Kehvarl (812337) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:05PM (#10570878)
        You forgot about SCO. $699 per procesor, what a highway robbery.
        • by Stevyn (691306)
          These $699 comments are still being modded up as funny? I think the goatse guy engulfing Soviet Russia while claiming all 640K of your base is his as he spends 48 hours compiling gentoo would be funnier.
    • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Informative)

      by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:45PM (#10570720) Journal
      Fewer pissed-off home users who don't have to pay an extra fee to use the second 'CPU,' I would imagine.

      But why is this news? Microsoft confirmed this back when Hyperthreading first came out. They were charging on the basis of sockets, not cores.
    • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Informative)

      by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:48PM (#10570755)
      As mentioned on The Register, they're not doing this so much for the OS side of things, but for the server software. Oracle charges per core, but is MS SQL Server charges per processor, that's half the cost right there. If Oracle or whoever switched models, that's more or less half gross revenue from that product gone.

      Suggested reasoning for this was that we didn't charge more when processors increased in speed by upping the clock rate, so why do it when processors increase speed by adding more cores on the die?

      • the reg article [theregister.co.uk] makes an even better point. microsoft's competitors in the server space (oracle, ibm, etc), are all charging per core. microsoft, however, has not has access to the dual core market since their products run only on x86 architectures, and it will be a year or more before we see any significant inroads for dual core amd/intel chips. at the moment, they're losing nothing. in the future, when these chips are available and you're comparing say different database servers on amd64 dual core har
    • For the next few years, we've essentially run out of clock speed increases, so the general improvement in computer power will come from parallelization - dual core and potentially quad. This will be the case even for the consumer market. To have a strategy of charging more for dual core chips would thus be analogous to charging more for CPUs of higher clock rate. It would serve to slow down the growth of the entire computer industry, or drive the move to less restrictive platforms.

      It seems that clock rates
    • No, it's not a sign or anything. It's a typo.

      They left off one word "...yet."
  • by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:22PM (#10570538)
    I bet debian does not charge more either. Oh hell I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest that Red Hat will probably not either.
  • by AndyCampbell (801057) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:22PM (#10570539) Homepage
    That story on technewsworld is very similar indeed to the story on technewsworld.
  • Virtualization (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:22PM (#10570541)
    Of course not, like everything else is becoming more virtualized. What if someone has 1 xeon counting as 2 processors running windows. Then they install vmware to install many windows OSes for testing. is that still 1 CPU? No lawyer can move at the pace of engineers!!!

  • by ajiva (156759) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:23PM (#10570542)
    Microsoft did the same thing with Hyperthreading, where under WindowsXP the number of physical processors determined if you needed to run Home or Professional. Previously, under Win2k if you had a dual HT machine, Win2k saw the machine as a quad processor and forced you to install advanced server to get the full performance. Under WinXP, you only need Professional (or home if you have a single processor).
  • by stienman (51024) <<moc.scisabu> <ta> <sivada>> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:23PM (#10570543) Homepage Journal
    In other news, computer manufacturers report sales of multi processor single core machines are down, while customers are clamoring for multi core single processor machines.

    MS is expected to revise it's statement tomorrow.

    -Adam
    • There aren't any commercially available multicore computers that run a Microsoft operating system. This is a bit forward-looking as dual core won't be available for maybe a year anyway.
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:23PM (#10570546) Journal

    Major US Company with virtual monopoly on product decides not to screw over customers. Details to follow.

    • by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:45PM (#10570727) Homepage Journal
      The details we won't hear are, of course, the various deals Microsoft cut with Intel and AMD to set their pricing this way. I mean let's face it, in one fell swoop MS could effectively end the chances of multicore processors if they decided to set a different pricing scheme. I wonder what they asked for...

      Jedidiah.
      • It is in Microsoft's best interest to keep people on the upgrade path. New computer = new Windows license. (Most consumers do NOT build their own computer.)

        The frequency speed increases seem to be slowing down. Multi core chips are the current best hope for keeping us on the upgrade cycle.
    • "Major US Company with virtual monopoly on product decides not to screw over customers."

      Slashdotters are still racking their brains trying to rationalize how this is proof MS is evil!
      • how do you know it isn't an attemp to screw over consumers? I mean this doesn't necesarily mean MS isn't evil does it? I would say time will tell.

        If i was to guess, i would think that the support needed to take advantage of this multi core will only be on the new DRM crippled os or some bios lockin DRM will be used in order to get the support like they imply. We all see how you have to run windows xp to take advantage of hyperthreading and not have it count as 2 processors. Will there be some sort of pat
        • We all see how you have to run windows xp to take advantage of hyperthreading and not have it count as 2 processors. Will there be some sort of patch that allows it to be detected as one processor like with win2000? (hint there wasn't)

          That's true, but your average OEM copy of NT has been the 1-2 processor version at least since NT4 and maybe NT3.51.

    • Major US Company with virtual monopoly on product decides not to screw over customers. At least not this time. At least apparently not yet, in this particular circumstance. Details to follow.

      There, fixed that for you.

    • I think they feel it's an opportunity to show the "community" they're a fair team player. If they started charging more, Intel would be pissed off because that dramatically increases the cost of computers with their processors running windows.

      Think about this, Microsoft says in 2005 they will change their mind and expect large companies that just invested tons of money in new servers to give them even more money. So the company can weigh the cost of switching to linux over the cost of paying the new lice
    • by 2short (466733)
      Except of course that they don't have a monopoly in the server space. If they charged per core for lets say SQLServer, I might thus be prompted to take another look at Oracle. This way I won't.

      They are not being nice despite having a monopoly. They are being nice in hopes of getting a monopoly.
  • Smart move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) * on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:23PM (#10570547) Journal
    Nevertheless, software vendors have proceeded cautiously on the core question, with rivals IBM, Oracle, Sun, Microsoft and others waiting to see how the others approach the issue, partly to learn what works and partly to have the opportunity to counter, according to DiDio.

    Good to see that atleast MS is brave enough to go ahead and do what they will. As much as I do not like their policies, atleast they didn't sit around waiting for others to show the way.

    She said IBM is in a different situation since it makes money not only from software and services but also from hardware.

    Ofcourse! This would mean that IBM would take up a position that hurt's Microsoft's stance :)

    Should prove interesting.
  • by ffattizzi (516177) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (izzittaff)> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:24PM (#10570552)
    While this seems like good news, I suspect after multi core server become common (or sooner) it will cost more per processor to license these applications.

    -Frank
  • Common Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:25PM (#10570561) Homepage
    It's just common sense. Imagine if Ford built a twin-engine car and the government wants to charge twice the road tax....
    • They do, sort of (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ...not engines, but axles.

      Many toll roads charge by the axle. So if you have three (ie, you're towing a trailer or you have a big truck) they charge you more.
  • Bummer (Score:5, Funny)

    by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:25PM (#10570564)
    Admit it, we Penguinistas are dissapointed :)
  • What is a multi core processor?
    • Re:Stupid question (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:34PM (#10570630)
      In a quick nutshell.

      Essentially a chip with more than 1 CPU on it.

      Instead of having a dual CPU with 2 fully seperate Xeons (for example), you now (in 1-2 years) will have a single Xeon that looks to the OS like 2 seperate CPUs.

      The part of the CPU that contains the real logic is called the core, and the cache and interface stuff is well the non-core. So, they put the heart of 2 CPUs on a single chip and wrap 1 non-core cache & bus interconnect around it, and call it a dual-core CPU, or multi-core to be generic.

      They make some changes in the bus interconnect to support this of course.

      You'll see it in high end server chips at first and then it'll work its way down to the desktop. Business care about the per CPU licensing because that is usually how they pay for software.
    • Re:Stupid question (Score:5, Informative)

      by rborek (563153) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:37PM (#10570662)
      A multicore processor is a processor with more than one processor core in a single die. So, an example of a multicore processor would be putting two Pentium 4 processor cores in the same processor die, thereby giving the operating system two processors to work with, instead of just one. This is roughly the same as having a dual-processor system, except that because the processor cores are side-by-side they can interact at processor speeds, rather than bus interconnect speeds. It's one method of creating faster computers without having to create new processors, or continually speed up the processor by increasing the frequency.

      The Xeon processors will be the first Intel chips to use multicore processors, and will eventually make its way into mainstream chips.

  • So why don't I just take a bunch of processors, link them together, and claim it is all one processor with multiple cores, and force Microsoft to set its price down to the single processor price???

    After all, a multi-core processor is really just multiple processors in one package, isn't it?

    --
    ./Amiga/.
  • by thisissilly (676875) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:30PM (#10570599)
    I heard that Linux will charge TWICE the current amount as much for Multicore GPL licenses. :)
  • Thank God (Score:5, Funny)

    by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:30PM (#10570603)
    Not charging per core, whew, thus reducing our enterprise's total [kernel.org] cost [freebsd.org] of [openbsd.org] operation [netbsd.org]!
  • by Anubis333 (103791) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:31PM (#10570610) Homepage
    "...will base the pricing on the number of processors the operating system shows present in the machine"
  • Marketing Fluff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by null etc. (524767) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:45PM (#10570730)
    I just ran the linked news article through my Marketing Cut-N-Paste Detector(TM), and have displayed the results below. All phrases in bold are determined to have been directly cut-n-paste from previous marketing articles.

    ...
    Analysts have warned that software makers might license their server products at double the price for double the number of cores, but many have also indicated that software companies have little to gain from multicore price increases.

    ... Although some vendors have hinted they may charge more for software licensing on multicore processors, most have moved closer to Microsoft's announced stance, which seeks to maintain the status quo without charging more for multicores.

    "Microsoft software that is currently licensed on a per-processor model will continue to be licensed per processor, not per core, for hardware that contains dual-core and multicore processors," the company said in a statement.

    Microsoft said its multicore licensing decision is aimed at driving higher volume and better value with the advent of dual-core and multicore server processors from both AMD (NYSE: AMD) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) , which are expected in hardware beginning next year.

    ... "Our customers want to understand software costs as they evaluate the return on investment of new technologies, such as multicore processors," said Microsoft vice president of licensing and pricing Brent Callinicos in a statement.

    ... According to Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds, the fear has been that software vendors would double their prices for dual-core processor coverage, creating big cost jumps for enterprise customers. Gartner recommends customers attempt to negotiate software licenses that count a single-chip device as one processor, regardless of how many cores it carries.

    While some vendors, including IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) , have signaled they might charge more in licensing for dual-core and multicore products, Microsoft confirmed what many analysts had predicted -- that the addition of processor cores was by no means an opportunity for software vendors.

    Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld that Microsoft was making a proactive move to address the issue, but was also signaling to its customers that it is not a hardware vendor and could not lower software prices along with the dip in hardware costs that comes with the efficiency of multicore chips.

    DiDio said that while customers might benefit from more efficient processors and interaction with the software, they will pay the same rate they've been paying to license Microsoft products with the new hardware.

    "This multicore technology really illustrates the dichotomy between the rapid advancement of hardware capability, which is in turn making issues with how software companies license the technology," DiDio said.

    [Editor's note: I admit that the previous three paragraphs come from an alternate universe in which everyone speaks marketing lingo, and understands each other.]

    Referring to the complexity of per-processor licensing, even without the addition of dual-core technology, DiDio said software makers do not want to be seen as raising their prices, for fear of losing customers.

    Nevertheless, software vendors have proceeded cautiously on the core question, with rivals IBM, Oracle, Sun, Microsoft and others waiting to see how the others approach the issue, partly to learn what works and partly to have the opportunity to counter, according to DiDio.

    She said IBM is in a different situation since it makes money not only from software and services but also from hardware.

  • Of course, with every version of RH 7.3, 8, 9... or FC1 or 2, I've never had to pay anyone for any number of CPU's I use.

    Maybe since M$ can't lower their pride enough to lower their prices, not adding an extra fee is supposed to make them look better?

    I can only wonder how Oracle is going to re-act to my 4-way, dual core RH ES 3 server... somehow I see the costs increasing...
    • Oracle will probably point out that your 4-way dual-core machine performs better than a 8-way single-core machine, due to faster communications between the cores on a single chip, and costs less, due to not needing an 8-way motherboard. It would be a bit odd to charge you less for the configuration which is already a better value.

      You were thinking you could upgrade your database server by only buying hardware?
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:50PM (#10570776) Homepage
    General Motors has decided to charge the same price whether you drive on two or four lane highways.

  • by pizza_milkshake (580452) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:55PM (#10570809)
    in other news, Microsoft is switching to a per-transistor licensing scheme.
  • What's strange about this announcement is the inconsistency in the policy. They do charge for multiple licenses when there are multiple processors in a single server. What they have announced is that if Intel or AMD put two (or more) CPU cores in one chip, a server that uses one of those chips will only need a single license. However, if I take multiple CPU's and imbed them in epoxy and make a server out of it, and call it the "frovingslosh processor", they would want to charge me or my customers multiple l
    • What's strange about this announcement is the inconsistency in the policy.

      It's perfectly consistent with Microsoft's (and just about everyone else's) prior licensing schemes. If you're having trouble understanding what they mean by "processor", think of it as a "processor socket".

      However, if I take multiple CPU's and imbed them in epoxy and make a server out of it, and call it the "frovingslosh processor", they would want to charge me or my customers multiple licenses based on the number of CPU's in tha

  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:59PM (#10570840) Homepage Journal
    A sigh of relief rose from the collective pirates of the world, who realized they would not have to spend the extra half-hour hacking Microsoft OS activation for machines with multi-core processors and could instead catch a Simpsons rerun.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:24PM (#10571027) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure that a part of the decision was not making Linux more attractive for low to mid end servers.

    It's already less expensive than Windows, if they charge more for dual or quad cores, the will really jack up the Windows TCO.

    Microsoft is a business, they want to make money. Sometimes you can make more money by selling things at a lower price.

    LK
  • by twfry (266215) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:27PM (#10571056)
    As much as people don't want to hear it, they have always been smart with how the price licenses. Most other high-end software vendors, such as Oracle, are pricing their software based on the number of cores.

    But microsoft is being smart and realized that 1) 1 proc 2 cores != 2 proc 1 core and 2) people will be happier upgrading their systems under this system.

    • I suspect they are directly targeting Oracle's decision to treat each core as a separate processor for licensing costs. MS intends to further grab market share away from Oracle, and that's it. Oracle will soon have to relent on its greedy licensing practices, or they will slowly but surely find themselves about equally as relevant in the database market as Informix has become.
    • Yes, but Oracle's current multicore customers are using high-end Unix systems and are used to paying top-dollar for everything.

      Intel/AMD have come out and said so, but it's a pretty sure bet that they will be selling dual-core CPUs for the same price as single core CPUs today. That means the customer who buys a $2500 2-way Xeon/Opteron today will be buying a 4-way system for the same $2500 next year. Oracle is in for a shock if they think they can get away with doubling a Dell customer's licensing costs.
  • by Maul (83993) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:41PM (#10571156) Journal
    MS is already being criticized that Windows is already too expensive. It is highly likely that multicore processors will hit the desktop market, and it would be bad for PR if Joe User found himself having to pay double because he has a dual core processor(even though he has no clue what a dual core processor really is).
  • Dammit, and here I am paying $699 for *each* CPU! I feel like I'm being totally ripped off. Maybe I should ask SCO for a discount?
  • Choose! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sampy (213238) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:03PM (#10571270) Homepage
    Update: 10/20 00:37 GMT by T: One of the identical links to TechNewsWorld's story has now been deleted.

    Yes, but can you guess which one?
  • AFAIK, Windows doesn't have any difference in functionality no matter how many processors you run, it's all about speed. Why should I have to pay for 2 servers when I'm only running 1? Is this some kind of speed tax?
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:14PM (#10571340)
    ... for now.
  • Hang on! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wiresquire (457486) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:40PM (#10571495) Journal
    Doesn't most MS products actually charge per CAL/per user, or have some sort of hybrid "Pay $X for machine + x CAL's, and then $Y/CAL"

    If that's the case, then there is virtually no difference!
  • by multiplexo (27356) * on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @10:27PM (#10571790) Journal
    a multi-core CPU how many pirate burners will the RIAA / MPAA count it as?

  • Paying more for an OS used on a multiple processor box would be like paying more for gas because you have an 8 cylinder engine instead of a 4 cylinder.

    Totally STUPID!

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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