Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA); Rules Explained Easily for Everyone 

When you want to license software and services from Microsoft, it can sometimes be quite difficult to conclude the right license agreement that suits the wishes and needs of your organization. After all, there are many options. At Q-Advise we want to make licensing with Microsoft easier for you, which is why we are happy to explain the many licensing options of Microsoft. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement.  

What is Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA)? 

Microsoft Service Provider Licensing Agreement, often abbreviated to Microsoft SPLA, is an agreement between two parties: an end user and a service provider. It is important to know the difference between these two parties, which is why we explain the licensing structure with an example. Let’s say Organization A is an end-user and Organization B is a service provider. 

Organization B, the service provider, licenses Microsoft products and services on a monthly basis. Organization B then offers these services or hosted applications to organization A, the end user. In other words, Microsoft grants the usage rights in its SPLA program to an external party, the service provider (organization B), so that the end user (organization A) does not have to purchase the licenses themselves. So, from a licensing point of view, organization B (service provider) is the licensee. The license agreement is concluded between Organization B and Microsoft. Organization A (the end user) ‘rents’ services from organization B, as it were, and pays service costs for this.  

Under a Microsoft SPLA license agreement, service providers can offer various Microsoft services and/or products to their customers. For example: Exchange Server, Windows Server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server and many others.  

Microsoft SPLA: Become a Service Provider 

We often get the question from our customers “but what is involved if I would like to become a service provider?”. In any case, the first piece of advice we would like to give you is to do your research beforehand to find out whether becoming a service provider is something that suits your organization. It can be very rewarding, but the amount of reports to Microsoft that you will have to do to Microsoft every year is not bad either. If you ultimately choose to become a service provider, you will go through the following steps: 

  1. Download the software from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) or purchase the media fulfillment kits.  
  2. You now own the usage rights to all current or past product versions.  
  3. Ensure that you remain compliant with the Services Provider Use Rights (SPUR) document at all times. This can be found on Microsoft’s own website.  

Microsoft SPLA: Become an end user 

Don’t feel like keeping track of all that paperwork as a service provider? Then you may be better off as an end user, just like organization A. But how do you conclude such an SPLA license agreement as an end user? There is also a small step-by-step plan for this: 

  1. Enroll your organization in the Microsoft Partner Network and choose a service provider. We recommend choosing a service provider that you really trust, as there are no rules about prices that service providers can charge to end users. 
  2. You must sign two agreements: The Microsoft Business and Services Agreement (MBSA) and the Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA). MBSA can be seen as Microsoft’s terms and conditions, which you only have to sign once (then never again). The SPLA agreement must be reviewed and resigned every three years.  
  3. Sign the License Mobility Addendum to become an authorized partner.  

Ready to close your Microsoft SPLA agreement? Contact Q-Advise for independent and clear advice!   

Microsoft SPLA agreement – what are the terms? 

If you choose to enter into an SPLA agreement, there are a number of conditions that must be met. Below we list them for you by category:  


  • The service provider is the licensee.  
  • Monthly payments are made to the service provider by the end user, based on the hosted software and services.  
  • There is annual price protection.  

End users 

  • Software services can be provided worldwide.  
  • Specific price offers are available for academic end customers.  

Requirements for Service Providers 

  • Service providers are required to provide technical support to end users. (Can’t offer this technical support? Then you can’t become a service provider either) 
  • Service providers are required to participate in the so-called Microsoft SPLA audits. In these audits, a service provider must report the necessary licenses to Microsoft.  

End of the agreement 

  • You can choose to enter into a new SPLA agreement.  
  • You can choose to renew an SPLA agreement. This requires an end-user agreement that extends beyond the end date of the SPLA agreement.  

Microsoft SPLA audits 

As just mentioned, a service provider is required to participate in the so-called Microsoft SPLA audits. These audits can take place in two ways: through monthly reports, or through Zero Use reports. 

Monthly reports 

In a monthly report, service providers must report to Microsoft the number of licenses required for each product used during the previous calendar month. In addition, service providers must report the name and address of all end users with revenues of more than a thousand dollars per month.  

Zero Use reportages 

The name says it all, a ‘Zero Use’ report must be submitted if the software and/or services have not been used. In that case, no costs are due. These Zero Use reports may only be submitted during the first six months of the SPLA agreement.  

It’s important to note that after the first six months, service providers must start reporting a minimum of one hundred dollars (or equivalent) per month to keep the SPLA agreement active.  

Can an SPLA service provider also use products internally?  

Service providers may also use products for internal use, but under the following conditions: 

  • The use of these products is included in the monthly reporting and is paid for.  
  • Captive use accounts for less than fifty percent of the total use of each reported product.  
  • The Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR) does not restrict the internal use of the product.  

Do you want to sign up for a Microsoft SPLA agreement soon? 

A Microsoft SPLA agreement, despite being a common license agreement, is quite complex. At Q-Advise, we understand that you may still have questions about Microsoft’s complex licensing structure.  

Whether you want to become an end user or a Microsoft SPLA service provider: at Q-Advise we can answer all the questions you have about Microsoft SPLA agreements. Whether you want to know if your organization could benefit from it, or if you don’t understand the cost structure. We look along with you and guide you with our many years of experience with Microsoft software and services.  

Are you curious about how we can help your organization regarding Microsoft SPLA? Contact us today to find out how we can help you when it comes to Microsoft SPLA licensing. We are one hundred percent independent and will always apply the licensing rules in the interest of your organization, not in the interest of Microsoft. 

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