Device vs. User – The Microsoft Counting Game

By Cindy Barron-Taylor

Director of Client Services - Microsoft, NPI

July 24, 2017

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Whether you are a new Microsoft enterprise agreement customer or have been one for years, you know that there’s a significant amount of time involved in ensuring you understand how to quantify your qualified devices and/or qualified users on your enrollment anniversary.  But how can you be sure that the true up-counts you provide to your Licensing Solutions Partner are correct?

Many Microsoft customers think that if they purchase the Core CAL (client access license) or Enterprise CAL with the user designation that this “by user” license establishes how they are licensed across their organization. The reality is that this is just one piece of the licensing calculation pie. 

If the only enterprise-wide commitment you have made is to the Core CAL or Enterprise CAL, then this assumption is correct.  However, if on this same enrollment you are also purchasing an enterprise-wide commitment for device-based licensing (such as Office Professional Plus on premise or the Windows OS by device), then you are still responsible for understanding the number of devices that are active in your organization to ensure you are accurately representing device-licensed enterprise-wide commitments. 

Note: If you do not wish to license Windows and Office by user by purchasing WinE3 by User and/or O365 and do not want to the responsibility of counting devices, your other option is to not include these items on your enrollment.

Microsoft licensing is nothing short of complex and the game keeps changing. Remember – if you’re not sure of your licensing position with Microsoft, there’s a good chance it’s inaccurate…and Microsoft will likely benefit from that inaccuracy!   It’s a good idea to get an expert to help you quantify your deployments and compare accurate deployment data to your entitlements (NPI calls this a “self audit”) – and that expert should not be your LSP, it should be someone completely objective (LSPs have an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to helping you optimize your Microsoft spend).