Microsoft provides more details on Office 2013 pricing and licensing changes

Microsoft is claiming some users could see price decreases with the new Office 2013 servers due to consolidation in SKUs. But your mileage may vary.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Last week -- just ahead of the December 1 date when Microsoft added its new Office 2013 servers to its volume-licensing price lists -- the Softies were tight-lipped about exactly what customers should expect. (Luckily, some of their reseller partners were not as reticent to talk.)


Resellers said volume licensees should expect substantial price increases for several of Microsoft's new Office 2013 servers. They also said Microsoft was consolidating its licenses, replacing multiple SKUs with a single option (in the case of SharePoint and Lync, specifically). Microsoft officials declined to comment last week about the coming changes.

On December 3, now that the volume-price lists are public, Microsoft execs were a bit more willing to talk about the licensing and pricing changes for the on-premises servers that have gone into effect.

Here's a statement with which a Microsoft spokesperson provided me when I asked today for more on this:

"Microsoft recently notified partners about licensing simplification and pricing changes coming with the next release of Office so they can inform customers about their options prior to license purchase or renewal. These price changes do not necessitate an automatic price increase and some customers may see an overall price reduction.

"As with any new release of Office, we evaluate how customers are using and licensing our products. Based on customer feedback, we simplified licensing options for businesses that want to continue to maintain their own environment. Customers now have consolidated access to features which provides increased flexibility as their deployment needs change.

"For example:

  • Microsoft Lync — We replaced the two separate Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition and the Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Edition with a single license. With Lync Server 2013, any organization purchasing or renewing Lync Server gets all of the features previously reserved for the Enterprise Edition license, including enhanced scalability, redundancy and resiliency, in addition to 2013 enhancements such as Lync Web App for remote users to easily join web meetings, multi-party video, and H.264 SVC support to enable HD video conferencing across a range of devices. Lync Server 2013 External Connector rights are also now included for all workloads so customers can connect more easily and richly with external contacts.
  • Microsoft SharePoint — The array of previous server licenses have been combined into the new SharePoint Server license. We increased the value of the SharePoint Server license by including SharePoint for Internet (and Extranet) Sites, Enterprise Search (FAST), and SkyDrive Pro, the new document storage service for SharePoint, in the main unified server license. Previously, access to those technologies required separate or different licenses.
  • Microsoft Exchange — The world's leading enterprise email system, will get some fantastic updates including a simplified building block architecture, built-in anti-malware, and an enhanced Outlook Web App. We will also be retiring the separate external connector licensing, but there is no change to price."

Microsoft officials still are not confirming prices leaked earlier this year for Office Standard 2013 ($369) and Office Professional Plus 2013 ($499).

I'm curious if customers have found Microsoft's claim that those buying the Office 2013 servers won't be faced with automatic price increase and "some customers may see an overall price reduction." Some resellers had been warning customers without Software Assurance licenses they might see substantial price hikes for the on-premises versions of Microsoft's new wares. Microsoft officials seem to be saying server license consolidation potentially could save some customers money. Anyone found that to be true in their calculations?

General availability of the new Office through retail and online channels is still on tap for the first quarter of 2013, Microsoft execs reiterated today. I am betting that means January.


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