Microsoft makes sweeping changes to its volume-licensing plans

Summary:Microsoft is unifying its myriad volume-licensing contracts, creating a new single agreement for businesses using its cloud, on-premises and, ultimately, device offerings.

Microsoft is starting to roll out a new volume-licensing plan that unifies its myriad existing business licensing agreements into a single new type of contract.

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Currently, Microsoft offers a variety of volume-licensing plans for small, mid-size and enterprise customers. Those plans include everything from Select Plus, to Enterprise Agreements, to the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement (MOSA) and the recently announced Server and Cloud Enrollment Plan .

Under the new volume structure, there will be a single volume licensing agreement for all customers "regardless of size or type" with "integrated transactional purchasing for on-premises and Online Services." Customers will sign a "Foundational" Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) to establish themselves and Microsoft will make available various "committed offers" to all customers.

(An example of a "committed offer" may be something akin to what's required as part of the Server and Cloud Enrollment. That contract requires users to make  "an installed-base-wide commitment to one or more components," for three years, to get the best price.)

Microsoft has been pilot-testing MPSA for the past year. As of December, Microsoft is starting to roll out the MPSA "more broadly" in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the U.S. The initial target group is medium-sized companies, but additional countries and customer types will be coming online in 2014, according to the company.

"Simplifying the overall structure and making it easier to manage on a day to day basis are 2 key things that most, if not all Microsoft customers ask for, so this is definitely a move in the right direction," blogged Richard Gibbons, software manager at reseller Bechtle, over this past weekend. (Gibbons also provided the image embedded in this post, courtesy of Microsoft, as an aid to explaining the changes.)

The MPSA "helps show their (Microsoft's) commitment to the new paths they're taking," Gibbons told me, via e-mail. "It keeps traditional VL (volume licensing) and incorporates cloud and devices too."

Gibbons noted that Microsoft also is replacing its Volume Licensing Service Center with a new, revamped Microsoft Volume Licensing Center Web site. This is where volume licensees can manage their payment options, make purchases, and (at some point in the future) access analytics data to help them make future purchases.

Microsoft officials previewed some of the coming licensing changes in a blog post back in mid-November. At that time, Richard Smith, General Manager, Microsoft World Wide Licensing & Pricing, said the goal of the new single contract would be to streamline procurement for "a better, faster experience," plus provide "the best overall value based on total volume."

Microsoft still has a lot of education to do about the new licensing structure. Microsoft's channel partners are wondering how the MPSA changes will affect them, as CRN UK noted. 

Topics: IT Policies, Cloud, Enterprise Software, IT Priorities, Microsoft, SMBs

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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