Lies, Damned Lies, and SharePoint Licenses

Bill Gates kicked off the SharePoint Conference in Seattle highlighting the growth and success of SharePoint:

Breaking the milestone of 100 million licenses sold and surpassing sales of $1 billion this year, SharePoint is helping customers solve their most pressing information management needs.

Let’s remember something here: Given that a SharePoint license for an end-user is included with (“bundled with”) the Enterprise CAL, Microsoft would like everyone to think that licenses sold equals seats in use. No, no, no. Those two things are not the same. If I took a guess, I’d pin the real user number in the 5-10 million region. There are NOT 100 million users of SharePoint across the world. As a comparative figure, Microsoft claims that is has licenses for 154 million seats for Exchange Server; that means that two-thirds of Exchange users are also licensed for SharePoint. Licensed, yes, using, no way.

Gates went on to say:

The spectacular growth of SharePoint is the result of the great combination of collaboration and information management capabilities it delivers.

Firstly, yes, it is a platform play. Sometimes that is helpful, and sometimes the word “platform” results in good decision making and reasoning skills being thrown out of the window.

Secondly, no, it’s not really that great at collaboration. At least, not if you want more than a place to access shared documents and team data.

Thirdly, the real drivers for SharePoint “growth” has been two strategic decisions by Microsoft: (a) to slip it into corporate environments without IT knowing and then forcing IT to resolve the outstanding issues (“you really have no choice you know”), and (b) the bundling of SharePoint user licenses into the Enterprise CAL to make it appear that more growth is going on than is really happening.

If SharePoint is as good as Microsoft says it is, please take the path of honor and use real market numbers.

0 thoughts on “Lies, Damned Lies, and SharePoint Licenses

  1. considering an avg cal 50-60 USD (including educational, volume and CAL upgrade rebates) you’d have 15-20 milion seats sold in 1 year
    also, consider maintainance fees for the previous 2 versions
    doesnt sound too far off (consider there are many 100 K deployments)

  2. Michael,
    I recently wrote an article – that specifically discusses SharePoint’s impact on the ECM market. I agree with your observation of growth drivers. I continually hear that SharePoint is “being bought by operations folks as an infrastructure item instead of going to an ‘ECM committee’.” However, I also find that many users prefer the ease of SharePoint’s interface and that preference is also driving adoption. Many companies are starting to use SharePoint as the “face” of their ECM repositories—the main interface to other document repositories.

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