Microsoft's client-access licensing and pricing changes to hit December 1

Microsoft's client-access licensing and pricing changes to hit December 1

Summary: Business customers who purchase CALs from Microsoft for use with Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, Windows Server, System Center and other products should be aware of licensing/pricing changes coming soon.


As of December 1, Microsoft is changing the way it prices the "user" option when purchasing client-access licenses (CALs), which will result in higher prices for some customers.


With the User CAL, customers buy a CAL for every user who accesses the server to use services such as file storage or printing, regardless of the number of devices they use for that access. With a Device CAL, they purchase a CAL for every device that accesses a server, regardless of the number of users who use that device to access the server.

Microsoft has positioned User CALs as being the optimal choice if company employees need to have roaming access to the corporate network using multiple devices, or from unknown devices, or simply if there are more devices than users in an organization. "Device CALs may make more economic and administrative sense if your company has workers who share devices, for example, on different work shifts," the Softies have said.

In the past, the price for these two kinds of CALs has been roughly the same, explained UK reseller Softcat in a blog post about the coming CAL changes dating back to October. But as of December 1, Microsoft is going to raise the price of user CALs by 15 percent, while keeping device CAL prices the same.

Microsoft notified its partners about these changes, expecting partner to let customers know so they could take action before December 1.

I asked Microsoft on November 26 for confirmation about these coming changes and received the following statement from a spokesperson:

“Microsoft recently notified partners about enterprise Client Access Licenses (CALs) changes so they can inform customers about their options before the changes take effect on December 1, 2012. These CAL changes include a user-based option that offers more value in support across unlimited devices and simplifies licensing management and compliance as devices in the workplace proliferate. Pricing for user CALs will change to reflect the increased value. Customers should work with their Microsoft partner or account team to assess their options.”

According to Microsoft partner Softcat, these are the Microsoft products that will be affected by this licensing change:

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio TFS CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server RDS, RMS, Terminal Services CAL

Does this mean users with User CALs have only four days left to panic and try to find some way to get around the coming change? Softcat notes that users with existing volume license agreements, like Enterprise Agreements, Enterprise Subscription, Open Value Subscription and Open Value Perpetual have more time. They can retain their pre-negotiated pricing until the end of their current contract terms, Softcat explained.

Customers who are considering purchasing products that require CALs any time in the near term, may want to talk to their Microsoft reps or partners of choice in the next few days, however, if they haven't already, about how best to try to protect themselves from the pending licensing/pricing changes.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Servers, Windows


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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  • No worries

    We use open source software across our business so no worries ;-)
    • Worries!!!

      Do you pay for the support? OR Do you get paid for it?
      If you don't know, check with your IT dept !!!
  • No Worries here Either

    Will be installin more Linux compatible servers
  • CALs have served Microsoft well

    Microsoft doesn't care which OS enterprise runs, they make money no matter what. Microsoft's move to the subscription model will go down as one of the shrewdest business moves ever. Microsoft can depend on the enterprise revenue stream while Windows 8 matures.

    My prediction is that Microsoft will find a way to support Windows XP beyond its end of life (either that, or Microsoft will have to convince organizations to pay for an unsupported product.) Microsoft needs the past to support the future.
    Info Dave
    • Making money

      Well they don't make any money out of my company and that's all I'm bothered about ;-) Makes us more competitive so I hope all the opposition stick with them ;-)
    • If your on XP

      I'd make the leap to Win 8 for $40 while you can. It still has the desktop and you can install a 3rd party app for the start menu if you can't accept the change. Win 8 runs great on older hardware and in most cases it actually runs better with its improved memory management.
      • Better options

        For those still on XP, I'd suggest a migration not to 8, but to Ubuntu. It's faster, more secure and, if you need it, you can pay for support. And most of the core developers are usually an e-mail away. Microsoft simply can't rival that.
    • Yeah I suspect

      they will work out some $$$$ producing way to continue XP support for at least two years beyond the drop dead date that was announced.

      Perhaps MS can also convince all 50 U.S. states to add a $5.00 fee to renew a drivers license too.
  • Microsoft and AT&T

    both need to die; two anachronistic relics with one true purpose for their existence - be an expensive obstacle.
    • Because neither

      offer quality products or services? I'll stick with MS. Great products with unmatched support.
    • what AT&T?

      The "anachronistic" AT&T split up over many parts since 1984, however, what we call AT&T today is SBC Corp. who purchased the remains of AT&T in 2005. So what we call AT&T today is not AT&T. But you knew that right?
      • well.....

        if it looks like a S@#$t and smells like S@#$t
        than no mater how you call it is S#$%T
  • SL

    I'd have Microsoft check who exactly they notified. I'm a Microsoft partner and I don't recall a price notice.
  • I've always preffered

    Device Cals anyways. We use Linux for appetizer tasks, but do most of our cooking with Microsoft.
  • Nickeled And Dimed To Death

    Paying for proprietary software becomes a death of a thousand cuts. Each extra charge seems like a minor irritation, until you notice how they've gradually mounted up to a huge cost. Every rise is predicated on the assumption that it will cost you even more to move away from the vendor's products. And so you resign yourself to keep on paying.
  • disjointed software licesing

    Recently a relative who runs dental practice in NJ with two physical locations, got quotation from Microsoft Gold Partner on Microsoft based solution - using Server 2012, Exchange, Sharepoint, Forefront security running on two separate dual CPU/Quad-core systems.

    The same RFP from a RedHat certified solution provider was exactly 85% less costly in both initial and 3 year plan out dollars, while offering considerably more on-premises technical support services and even a12 terabyte NAS storage.

    The icing on the cake is that the Linux solution, via SAMBA can satisfy any and all the Directory and networking services needed for Windows clients, and included KVM virtualization for Windows Business applications.

    Every month, Microsoft solutions get more expensine and confusing to purchase while remaining same lousy software in reliability and security. Small businesses and organizations need a reality check for using their technology. Europe, South America and most parts of Asia are already way ahead using Open Source.
    • Linux v Windows for a small server

      I am straying somewhat from the point of this article here and I'm not talking about large enterprises but I must agree with you about SAMBA.

      My home network often has as many machines connected to it as the average small office some of them wirelessly. I am using a small Fedora/Amahi server (which I actually built myself)

      Connecting some of the windows machines to each other can be a nightmare even with the same version (Win 7 usually) but connecting to the server is a breeze with almost anything. be it a windows machine (any version pretty much) or a Linux box or probably a Mac but I haven't done it yet.

      And the cost zero, nowt, nada. I will admit that it was a little more tricky to set up than a windows server which I also tried, but this was a small price to pay in labour compared to Windows.

      I Don't have to support Microsoft's already vast fortune, no licensing or subscriptions and it just sits there and quietly does what a server should do, and more 24/7. Open source has come a long way and It works for me in this application.
  • I wonder where the MS shills went...

    Now that their TCO just went up 15%.

    Just be glad you aren't in Europe - they went up 20%
    • Re: I wonder where the MS shills went...

      Oh, they're around, all right, even if they can't think of anything coherent to say. Just look at all the spurious flagging of perfectly reasonable comments.
  • using xp you should upgrade

    lol I read if your using windows xp you should upgrade to windows 8 now and had to coment why not upgrade to something that just works and is more productive?
    Microsoft will allways be there sucking people dry you do have a choice.