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New Short-Term Licensing Options Offered for Microsoft Products

Office, SharePoint and Exchange are among the offerings that could be affected.

In an effort to offer more flexibile licensing terms for things like enterprise mobility management (EMM), Microsoft has given companies shorter-term options.

These short-term options for the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) are designed for organizations that need to license Microsoft software just during portions of a year. Examples include businesses that employ seasonal retail workers or organizations that have fluctuating business demands.

The short-term MPSAs, which were available as of March 1 of this year, can be obtained to cover "one to 11 months" licensing periods, per Microsoft's announcement. It's possible to initiate these short-term MPSA contracts at any time.

Microsoft's announcement described the short-term MPSAs as being available just for "select online services." A graphic in the announcement shows some possible product licensing scenarios. They include:

  • Office 365 E1
  • SharePoint Online Plan 1 and Plan 2
  • Exchange Online Kiosk Plan 1 and Plan 2
  • Enterprise Mobility Suite
  • CRM Online increased capacity Add-ons

In addition to the new short-term option, Microsoft added multiple-year options under MPSA contracts for its Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) licensing back in September. ECS licenses are a combination of Office 365 licenses, Enterprise Mobility Suite licensing and the Windows Software Assurance annuity upgrade guarantee.

The MPSA is considered to be Microsoft's most flexible licensing contract yet available. The older Enterprise Agreement contract, though, is still Microsoft's flagship contract for organizations.

Microsoft has slowly rolled out its MPSA program, which was designed to simplify contractual agreements for organizations. The MPSA may have been launched as early as Dec. 2013, perhaps in a limited release. Microsoft later announced broadened availability of the MPSA planned for the summer of 2015. In September, Microsoft added the ability to attach Software Assurance to MPSAs. Software Assurance gives organizations the rights to upgrade Microsoft's software if that upgrade happens within Software Assurance's coverage period. Microsoft phased out its Select Plus Agreements on July 1, 2015, supplanting them with the MPSA as one of the main options.

Microsoft also announced last month that it will increase the minimum "seat" count for Enterprise Agreements from 250 users or devices to 500 users or devices starting on July 1, 2016. This change could prompt smaller organizations with Enterprise Agreements to opt for MPSAs at contract renewal periods, possibly.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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