Microsoft goes public with more info on its volume-licensing overhaul

Microsoft has started sharing more information publicly about its planned volume-licensing changes rolling out in the coming months.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

In December 2013, Microsoft started rolling out a massive overhaul to its volume-licensing program.


At that time, details were fairly scarce about the new Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), which the Redmondians had been pilot testing for the past year. MPSA is designed to replace the variety of different volume-licensing plans Microsoft offers to small, midsize and enterprise users.

The supposed game plan was to start rolling out the program in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the U.S., beginning with medium-sized companies. Additional countries and customer types will be coming online in 2014, according to the company.

A couple of newly published Microsoft documents provide some more details about the MPSA and how Microsoft plans to roll it out.

The new licensing program has two main components: The MPSA and the Purchasing Account, according to Microsoft's "Next Generation Microsoft Volume Licensing Overview." (The PDF is here.)

The MPSA is the agreement that consolidates various licensing contracts into "a single, nonexpiring agreement for all organizations." It munges together the terms and conditions in the current Microsoft Business and Services Agreement (MBSA), the Microsoft Select Plus Agreement, and Microsoft Online Services agreements. Users can have multiple account types -- commercial, academic and government -- covered by a single agreement. The MPSA lets users integrate transactional purchases for on-premises software and online services.

The Purchasing Account allows users to "define how you want to purchase (by affiliate, division, department, or any other group you define in your organization)." Users will be able to specify multiple Microsoft partners for transactional purchases with the new Purchasing Account, though the initial MPSA and Purchasing Account set-up will seemingly be handled by a user-specified partner of record. The revised, accompanying Microsoft Volume Licensing Center will let users generate reports on everything purchased under the MPSA.

In a PDF comparing the new MPSA to Select Plus, Microsoft notes that the MPSA agreement is eight pages total, compared to the 37-page one for MBSA, along with various separate Select Plus and Microsoft Online Services Agreements.

Microsoft also has published a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document about the new volume licensing structure. That document notes that on the services front, Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Yammer subscriptions are all currently available for purchase through the MPSA. "Other Online Services will become available in future updates," the document states.

Customers can provision Online Services directly from the Volume Licensing Center. The customers' partners of record receive the order for processing and will be the ones doing the invoicing, the FAQ states.

The FAQ also noted that Software Assurance will be available in "future release" of MPSA that is currently scheduled for "the end of 2014." The FAQ adds: "Existing Software Assurance coverage and benefits from another Volume Licensing program (e.g. Select Plus, Enterprise Agreement, or Open) will not be affected by or connected to a new MPSA."

Pricing, of course, varies by customer and purchase size. But according to the FAQ, there's no entry minimum required to begin buying through the MPSA, but there is a minimum of 500 points required within each active product pool to maintain "Level A" eligibility. (Levels B, C and D require higher minimums, with D topping out at 25,000 points.) Product pools include: Applications, Systems and Servers.

For even more information on the new MPSA, plus more PDF downloads, check out Microsoft's MPSA Licensing site.

Update (March 3): Microsoft has expanded its MPSA rollout to six more countries as of March 3: France, Poland, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland.

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