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Microsoft changes the licencing landscape

Posted by Ben Voce on Jan 27, 2022 12:00:00 AM
Microsoft changes the licencing landscape | Business IT Highlander

Please note: This post was written by Highlander prior to their rebrand to FluidOne Business IT - Sheffield.

Microsoft has made a number of recent announcements regarding how, and where it’s various licences and products will be made available for customers. While it’s likely you have already heard about the impending switch from Microsoft CSP to Microsoft NCE, due later this year, another change has already taken place which is just as significant.

From the 31st of December 2021 Microsoft brought an end to its Open Licence program, closing a service that was first opened more than 20 years ago. With the program at the end of its life it’s important that all those customers who have previously used the Open Licence program understand how these changes will impact them, and the options available for future licence purchases.

Why has Microsoft closed Open Licence?

The Open Licence program was still being used by many businesses right up until it’s End of Life date at the end of last year. It primarily functioned as a platform for businesses to arrange the purchase of licences or online services in a way that allowed access to licence keys and media via the Microsoft Volume Licencing Service Center, as opposed to waiting for keys and media to be sent out. Customers needed to work with a partner to purchase the licences and would need to wait for quotes and orders to be processed before any licences keys and media could be obtained.

This was especially helpful for businesses buying one off licences for products such as client operating systems, Windows Server or Microsoft SQL who wanted to pay for a perpetual licence up front. There was also the option to add a 2-year subscription for Software Assurance, and the option to purchase tokens for Azure and 12-month subscriptions for online services such as Microsoft 365.

But while this presented a platform for businesses to purchase the licences and services they needed, its delivery came with added complications. The process for buying perpetual licences resulted in delays to licence codes – often not available until 48 hours after purchase. The option to add Software Assurance (SA), delivered as a subscription, would also complicate licence payments due to the combination of upfront licence purchase and 2-year SA subscription.

Those who purchased additional one-year licences for online services such as Office and Microsoft 365 also encountered challenges. With the purchase of products like Microsoft 365 and Office 365 whenever new licences were purchased this would inadvertently alter the expiry date for every existing licence purchased through the platform making management and renewal dates difficult to manage.

It’s for these reasons that Microsoft has now chosen to close down the Open Licence Program and instead make the various online services and perpetual licences available through its other existing programs, namely CSP, Open Value and Open Value Subscription.

What do these changes mean?

Firstly, it’s important to note that any of your existing licences purchased through Open Licence will continue to operate as normal. Any Software Assurance subscriptions purchased through Open Licence will also run until their own expiration date.

Existing online services will also continue, and any unused Azure tokens already purchased can still be used until the end of their 5-year term.

The major change relates to the purchase of new licences, or the renewal of existing licences purchased through Open Licence. You are now no longer able to purchase perpetual licences via Open Licence. Instead, these will need to be purchased with help from a Microsoft partner via the CSP program – however customers can self-serve and purchase their perpetual products via Highlanders Cloud Portal without the need to wait for quotes and orders to be processed. Crucially, this will mean that any new licences purchased will be available in a matter of minutes without the extended delays associated with Open Licence.

There is also no longer an option to include Software Assurance alongside perpetual licences. If you’d like to add Software Assurance, both this and your licence will need to be delivered via subscription using Open Value. This will remove the complications associated with the combination of upfront licence purchase and Software Assurance subscription.

Any additional online services will also now only be available through CSP, with these added to any existing service subscriptions purchased via the CSP program.

Got any questions? We are here to help

Fundamentally these changes should not impact the availability or accessibility of any Microsoft licences or online service, but it can still be difficult to make sense of what these changes mean for your business, especially if you were one of the many organisations still using Open Licence up to the end of last year.

If you have any questions about how the closure of Open Licence will impact your business, or want to know more about your options for purchasing future licences, our expert team are on hand to offer all of the support and guidance you need. Just get in touch to get started.

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