Microsoft licensing is a touchy subject. Many customers’ thoughts or comments on the topic aren’t too positive (to be nice). Even Microsoft employees and channels struggle to fully understand the changing offerings and product use rights across the product portfolio. It’s so complex that Microsoft employs hundreds of staff solely dedicated to product licensing.
Will it ever get any better?
Microsoft has been talking the talk for a while when it comes to licensing – making statements around simplification, streamlining and listening to customers’ wants and needs. But until now, each time they do roll out a new program, it seems to actually drive more complexity, not less.
However, change seems to be in the air up in Redmond. I believe that Microsoft has made their strongest effort yet with the release of the new Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, or MPSA.
The MPSA is Microsoft’s first major revision to the Enterprise Agreement program that was formally introduced in 2001. The idea of MPSA isn’t something entirely new. It’s built on current agreement structures and on ideas that have been circulating for a few years now. What is fundamentally important are three things:
1. Microsoft looks to eventually do away with the requirement to license all of the qualified users/devices and allow a customer to pick and choose what offerings work best for them.
2. In the past, a customer had to sign multiple enrollments and potentially even agreements, depending on their business infrastructure. Pricing and terms could vary across different parts of the customer organization. The MPSA looks to eliminate as much of that as possible – allowing different parts of a business to source under the same master agreement (and have access to the same pricing).
3.The MPSA moves toward more integrated purchasing for all types of licensing – perpetual, subscription and online services – with a more unified agreement structure.
MPSA has been formally released, but is being rolled out in stages. Today, Microsoft is focused on offering it to US-based small business customers. Eventually they will be ready to offer this to their medium and large customers (we anticipate later this year or 2016). If your Microsoft account team hasn’t brought up MPSA with you, it’s probably because it’s not ready for your business just yet.
Regardless, we strongly suggest getting informed earlier rather than later. Microsoft will eventually be using this as the standard agreement moving forward, formally replacing the Enterprise Agreement. Now is a good time to reach out to a Microsoft licensing specialist who can help you understand how a move to a MPSA can impact your Microsoft spending.