Today I attended a really interesting event at the Microsoft Stockholm location about the Microsoft Virtual Earth Platform. The event was a result of large amount of questions from partners and customers and the bi-weekly webcasts by the VE team. During the day the team from UK presented the Virtual Earth platform including the Virtual Earth AJAX controls and the MapPoint web services as well as SQL Server 2008, which contains impressive spatial data management.

I was there to hear what the Virtual Earth platform could do for my customers and our solutions and during the day I noted down some really interesting ideas and pitches that I will try on them, but…

Unfortunately the licensing model behind Virtual Earth is really bad and expensive and it currently only suits large customers who can earn/save large amounts of money using the services. Many of my clients are small or medium businesses which I think would place Virtual Earth in the nice-to-have slot on their investment strategy and as soon as they will see the licensing fees they will place it in the bottom of the stack of feature requests.

Let’s assume that you would like to use some Virtual Earth functions in an application for your clients which will not be your main income channel, but more aimed at making you application going that extra mile. Then you immediately have to throw up the big bucks to Microsoft. Of course, if this part of the application eventually becomes something extra and you make heavy usage of it, you can justify the current licensing prices.

I think that Microsoft currently have a licensing issue when it comes to small and medium sized businesses who want to use these nice products and features that Microsoft have. I would like to see some more starting licenses for customers who would like to start out using the features. Microsoft, the Microsoft partners and the customers will gain on this;

  1. Customers can start out using these features, without a huge investment and risk. More customers - more licenses
  2. Microsoft Partners can get more consulting in this area. More partners - more customers.
  3. Microsoft will get more VE implementations and eventually get even more licensed applications

Do you have any thoughts on this issue, please drop me a line…

If you take a look at Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, there are the same issues right now. For small businesses it’s not justifiable to invest in a SharePoint site, especially when it’s Internet facing…