Unveiled in 2002, Microsoft Assurance Software was created by Microsoft to enable users further exploit Microsoft related technologies including Office, Windows and other related desktop and server applications.
It is a Microsoft maintenance program geared towards helping businesses whether large or small maintain growth, meet challenges, and respond to change accordingly by providing efficient and effective IT infrastructure to facilitate success.
The programs and services covered by Software Assurance include Microsoft Office, Windows, Exchange, SQL Server, System Center, and Microsoft Azure among others.
Software Assurance has numerous benefits to the users including:
- Availability of free upgrades where users are allowed to upgrade to newer versions for free
- Facilitates access to a wide range of exclusive software products such as Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, and Windows Vista, 7 and 8 Enterprise Editions which are only available to Software Assurance subscribers.
- Microsoft has created an online end-user training and instructor-led technical training to users free, to increase the general user productivity.
- It focuses on reducing the cost of software and services by facilitating cost-efficient upgrades and giving free rights to new software releases.
- Incorporates cloud-based deployments among other to unique technologies to improve operational efficiency in organizations
- Provides around-the-clock support to maintain responsive and available IT infrastructure.
- Other benefits include facilitating free home use, error reporting tools, availability of “Cold backups” of live servers with free licenses, access to Microsoft TechNet and Extended Hotfix support at subsidized prices for Software Assurance users.
Despite the above mentioned benefits, this program has come under criticism due to the high cost of acquiring and maintaining it, and also lack of free upgrades as initially advertised during the contract period. The release of a major upgrade at times exceeds three years, thus users are often forced to renew their licenses because their contract period had already expired.