Were you lucky enough to receive a white envelope from Microsoft in late April or May? The one a number of CIOs reported receiving that reminded them about the looming July 31 deadline to enroll in Redmond\u2019s Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance upgrade plan? (See "The Meter Is Running," at www.cio.com\/printlinks.)Microsoft recently made what the company calls a final, $10 million, don\u2019t-say-we-didn\u2019t-warn-you push to reach corporate customers before it starts charging for software in a new way. The deal under Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance: Customers pay a fee per year to use Microsoft software and acquire upgrades. Letting the license lapse means paying full price for the latest version of any Microsoft product, whether it\u2019s Windows or Office.CIOs are not happy. According to them, Microsoft\u2019s new licensing plan is too expensive. One CIO at a midsize manufacturing company arrived at work one spring Monday to find the white envelope on her desk. "There\u2019s like five sheets of info. Pretty charts," says this CIO, who declined to be quoted by name. The numbers accompanying the charts weren\u2019t so pretty. Our CIO reports her midsize company would owe about $170,000 for 250 PCs using Office. "I\u2019m not going to my CFO with that," she says. Later, she shared the news with her Microsoft sales rep: "Forget it. I\u2019m moving to StarOffice and Linux." A week passes. A similar white envelope appears, this time on the desk of the company\u2019s CEO. "He\u2019s infuriated," she says. "He wants to know how they have the gall to ask for this much money for word processing." She gets executive buy-in on her Linux plan. A new plant-monitoring system will use thin clients on the shop floor?running Linux.Microsoft officials say its mailings are just one part of an effort that has included 150 seminars for customers, conference calls with industry analysts and training sessions for its resellers on how to pitch the licensing program. Large customers are contacted a minimum of four times. "We want to do everything possible to make sure they aren\u2019t caught unaware Aug. 1," says Rebecca LaBrunerie, Microsoft\u2019s group manager of worldwide licensing.Our midsize company CIO, though, refuses to enroll in Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance. "I\u2019d rather use Office \u201997 for the rest of my life if I had to," she says. But she doesn\u2019t have to. She has already begun testing systems running Lotus Notes and StarOffice, on Linux.