Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

Summary: To entice customers to sign up for its Software Assurance subscription-licensing plan, Microsoft has added a number of carrots over the years. But it's about to cut one of those carrots, its Employee Purchase Program (EPP), as of November 2010.

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To entice customers to sign up for its Software Assurance subscription-licensing plan, Microsoft has added a number of carrots over the years. But it's about to cut one of those carrots, as of November 2010.

The Employee Purchase Program (EPP), a benefit which Microsoft introduced in 2003, is going away.The EPP allows Software Assurance subscribers to purchase up to three copies of some of Microsoft's consumer software and hardware -- including Office, Windows, games and hardware -- at discounted prices.

Microsoft's volume licensing team sent a note to Software Assurance subscribers about the planned phase-out back in March 2010, but it seems that at least some in the Microsoft community were unaware of the upcoming deadline.

Microsoft officials told Software Assurance (SA) customers that use of EPP has "gradually declined" since its introduction. From the March note:

"For all Software Assurance customers eligible for EPP, the number of individual product licenses purchased on average by organizations is less than one. In addition, the vast majority of product licenses purchased are for Microsoft Office, making up 90 percent of the EPP orders today.

During the same timeframe the Home Use Program (HUP) for Microsoft Office has provided millions of organizations' employees with Office at home via a convenient download service, providing Microsoft Office at cost recovery at around $10 per employee (local currency pricing varies). We believe this offers your employees an easier and more affordable program for using Microsoft Office at home."

(I wonder whether part of the reason use of EPP gradually declined was because relatively few customers seem to know of its existence. I had never heard of it until Hardware Geeks' Michael Reyes asked me this week if I had heard why it was going away.)

Microsoft is recommending EPP customers evaluate the Home Use Program as a way to get Microsoft Office for their employees. But HUP only provides for cheap copies of Office and not games or Windows or any other consumer software.

"The most significant beneft of SA, by far, is upgrade rights, but I think the EPP and the HUP (Home use program) were reasonably popular," said licensing expert and Directions on Microsoft analyst Paul DeGroot. "The HUP is more restrictive, applying to a specific set of apps like Office, and while that might seem like a cheap way to get Office at home, a lot of people don't need it, since Office has 'portable use rights,' which lets you install a second copy on a portable device. So a lot of people don't need SA to get Office for home use."

DeGroot noted that the EPP covers a much broader range of products, including consumer products.

Update (August 9): Got a couple more (non) answers to some questions about HUP/EPP from a Microsoft spokesperson:

Any plans to expand it to include Windows, games, consumer software, hardware, like EPP has?

"We’re not able to comment on future plans for making Windows, games or other software and hardware available via the HUP/EPP program."

2) Will MS allow SA users to access the corporate store in some way (as they seem to be able to with EPP)?

"We’re constantly looking at options to better serve our customers.  However, Software Assurance (SA) users currently do not have access and we’re not able to comment on future plans at this time."

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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19 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

    I don't see why Microsoft needs to eliminate the program unless it costs them a lot of money to manage it.

    If the EPP users can log into the Company Store site and purchase software, then they're able to get a lot of stuff at a tremendous discount. It's too bad no one uses it.

    I'm glad it's just the EPP. I was afraid they were going to get rid of the MSA Network Company Store benefit too. I'd hate to lose that!
    dvanderwerken
  • EPP Was not a Deal.

    Windows at Full Retail, Office at Full Retail, no OEM Versions, etc.

    HUP is a better deal and, wink, wink, nod nod, they will never know when you leave your company.
    itguy08
    • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

      @itguy08 Microsoft cited declining customer demand for is decision to kill EPP, but noted the vast majority ??? 90 per cent ??? of licenses purchased were for its Office suite. <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #333333;" href="http://fastofficefurniture.com.au/about-us">office furniture Canberra</a>
      richrollins
  • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

    The Major Corporation (EDS) I used to work for would not allow us to use the EPP because their lawyers told them that they were required to charge the employee tax on the differance between retail that the store price. They believed that the tax law said they had to treat the benifit as part of your compensation.

    They deemed it too much of a burden. So if they were right, then it was the IRS that killed the EPP program.
    chieftom
    • Its great that our tax system does this

      @chieftom

      Its not fair that you have access to discounted software. You fat cats need to pay your fair share! Govts need tax revenue otherwise drastic cuts will have to be made.
      otaddy
      • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

        3/10
        Andylb
      • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

        @otaddy - Now it's quite possible that your post was sarcasm, however, I'm going out on a limb and guessing it's not.<br><br>The government (federal, state and local) already over-taxes us and still drastic cuts are made to critical services (education, law enforcement, medical and firefighting) because the governments want to give truckloads of money to social services which do nothing to correct the problem, only to perpetuate it. So in my opinion your comment is nonsense.
        PollyProteus
    • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

      @chieftom Seems like overcautious lawyers. Doubt the IRS was the reason behind the program going away. I'm a seasonal IRS employee who bought Microsoft Office using the Employee Purchase Program -- the IRS publicized the program to its own employees and did not include the purchase as compensation on my W-2.
      altosabetha
  • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

    What Microsoft is really doing is replacing a carrot with a stick. To get Office at a discount under the HUP you must buy an equivalent number of Office licenses with SA. There was no such requirement under the EPP. I steered dozens of users to the EPP to buy the Office Home and Student version which was sold at $75 on the EPP site and allowed three installs. Because we purchase license only for Office we are not eligible for HUP purchases despite our million dollar plus spending with Microsoft Enterprise and Select licensing.
    oien@...
  • Buy a mac

    Buy a mac and you get it free, a good enough for home use version anyway
    dfruk@...
  • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

    its funny the hup has been running for over 4 years and it's changed a lot since the start, it was supposed to allow people the chance to pay 20$ for an enterprise edition of ms office for home use once every 12 months at the start, now its one purchase per product per person per 3 years not to mention all the extra tye ins to do with the ammount of operatin system and application licences purchased by the employers

    all in all the entire program was a crock of .... and the fact there now removing half of it despite hte fact the hup was officially withdrawn over 18 months ago by most of the SA vendors, go figure
    nanotm
    • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

      @nanotm I know nothing about the program, but purchasing once every 3 years vs 12 months isn't a big deal for most users. If I bought Office 2007 in the first half of 2007, why would I buy another copy before 3 years are up? Yes, there may be 1/100 that have more than 3 personal computers for home use that they want to install a copy of Office on, but I doubt it. And if this is for the kids, there have been plenty of deals for Office 2007 Ultimate for 30 or 40 bucks.

      So short of that, 3 years pass and you think, hmm....maybe I'll get that office 2010 when it comes out....which was a month or so back, I think. OS Purchase? Pretty much the same thing, unless these are OEM licenses, and even then you can work around it in most case.
      notsofast
  • lack of publicity

    I'm a MS Registered Partner, and I have read most of the flood of information they send out re: licensing, but I never knew about the EPP or MSA Network Company Store.

    I may have known about the HUP and I think I remember knowing about the Office at Home, when I worked for a Fortune 500 firm, although I might be thinking of the Portable Use Rights.

    With all of the messages MS puts out via email and the media, I agree that EPP usage may have declined because for lack of education and marketing about it.
    ITSecurityGuy
  • lack of publicity

    I'm a Microsoft Registered Partner, and I have read most of the flood of information they send out re: licensing, but I never knew about the EPP or MSA Network Company Store. <br><br>I may have known about the HUP and I think I remember knowing about the Office at Home, when I worked for a Fortune 500 firm, although I might be thinking of the Portable Use Rights.<br><br>With all of the messages MS puts out via email and the media, I agree that EPP usage may have declined because for lack of education and marketing about it.
    ITSecurityGuy
  • What's up?

    empty (the 'Save' button wouldn't work before, so I scrolled down and used "Add your opinion", resulting in nearly duplicate messages.

    Now I can't even use the 'Flag' button to have the first message removed, even when I set NoScript to Allow All Scripts (not recommended) and refresh the page before trying to flag the message.

    Apparently, only 'Add Your Opinion' is working here, at least for me, in FF v3.6.8
    ITSecurityGuy
  • Interesting, 'Reply' won't work either

    ... as I found out, when I tried to mention that "empty" had been the topic of the above post, but I replaced it with "What's up?". I don't know how it got included in the body, along with a left parenthesis. Again, the ONLY button working here is 'Add Your Opinion'.
    ITSecurityGuy
  • Step back and see if you really need it

    Honestly, these days you don't even need to buy Microsoft software anyway. Corporations will continue to use Windows because they are locked in to it. However, for employees, other options are available that cost $0 and don't have any licensing restrictions. It's called OpenOffice, and open source software which is all free.
    Chris_Clay
  • RE: Microsoft to cut a carrot from its Software Assurance licensing plan

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