Want to buy Microsoft software? Here’s the basics you need to know! 

If you’re planning to invest in Microsoft services and software for your organization, it’s important to understand how licensing Microsoft services and software works.  

There are many licensing options and options when you purchase software and services from Microsoft, and of course you want to choose what best suits your organization. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know if you’re going to license software and services from Microsoft.  

Various Ways of Licensing 

If you are going to purchase a software license from Microsoft, this can be done in several ways:  

Full Packaged Product (FFP) 

The first option is to purchase a software license as a Full Packaged Product (FPP). A Full Packaged Product is also called a retail product because it is sold in a consumer packaging (a box) and can be purchased from various retailers. FFPs are intended for customers who do not purchase a new PC at the same time. In general, one box, one license. Therefore, this option is often used by consumers, and not by organizations. Because if you want to purchase multiple licenses, you also have to purchase multiple FFPs.  

  • Advantages: if you purchase a box, you can get started right away. A box contains everything you need to install the software.  
  • Disadvantages: an FFP is often quite expensive. In addition, only the version that contains the box can be used, do you want to update to another version? That is not possible. There is also a lot of paperwork involved, because to prove that you own the license you must always keep your receipts, the original files and manuals and the COA (certificate of authenticity).  

With a new PC – OEM licenses 

A second option for licensing Microsoft software is at the same time as a new computer. You will need to make sure that the software is already installed on the device when you buy it. These licenses are also known as OEM licenses (Original Equipment Manufacturer).  

  • Pros: The software is already installed. So, you don’t have to pick out the egg of Columbus yourself to install everything yourself.  
  • Cons: The software cannot be shared and is only available on the new device. Do you have multiple employees? Then you would have to give them all a new computer to license software with this option. Again, the owner must keep the receipt, the original files and manuals and the COA at all times.  

Microsoft Volume Licensing 

This option is most commonly used by both large organizations and smaller businesses. That’s why we’ll be talking about it a little more often in this article. Under Microsoft Volume licensing, organizations can purchase various licenses for multiple users, or multiple devices at the same time. Volume licensing includes several licensing programs: the well-known Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA), Open Value, and MPSA (formerly Select). This licensing strategy is only possible for organizations that require five licenses or more.  

  • Benefits: The biggest advantage of Microsoft volume licensing is its time efficiency. For example, let’s say you need an Office Standard license for twenty devices, you’ll only receive one activation key that allows for 20 downloads. In addition, you can also uninstall and reinstall volume licenses from one device to the next. That makes volume licensing a flexible option.  
  • Disadvantages: If your organization only needs three or four licenses, volume licensing is not an option.  

Find out which Microsoft license is right for your company with Q-Advise!  

Microsoft Volume Licensing: What Types Are There? 

As just mentioned, for organizations (both large and small) the best option is often to purchase a volume license. Suppose you also want to choose this option; it is wise to know what type of volume licenses are available on the market. Under Microsoft volume licensing, we distinguish three different licensing programs:  

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) 

Microsoft EA is an agreement developed by Microsoft specifically for large organizations with more than five hundred devices or users. The only exception to this is public companies, such as government agencies, they must have at least 250 devices or users. The required a number of licenses is purchased after the number of standardized workstations has been counted. The price for the EA licenses is then fixed for a period of three years. After these three years, the licenses become perpetual, you can then use the relevant version of the software (e.g. Microsoft Exchange Server 2019) in perpetuity. In addition to being able to rent EA licenses, it is also possible to rent them. Then they do not become perpetual after the three years, in this case you enter into a Microsoft Enterprise Subscription Agreement. 

You can read more about this in our previous article! 

Open Value 

Open Value licenses are also available for smaller companies. This method of volume licensing can already be used if you purchase at least five licenses for any Microsoft products and/or services. For Open Value licensing, Microsoft has set a fixed price for all industries and different organizations. Like Microsoft EA, Open Value is also a three-year agreement. There is also a rental subscription available for Open Value: Open Value Subscription.  

MPSA (formerly Select) 

The MPSA (Microsoft Products and Services Agreement) licensing program is developed by Microsoft for medium to large organizations, and governments with decentralized decision-making. Previously, this license program could be purchased under the name ‘Select’. The MPSA agreement is concluded on the basis of a forecast and is based on transactions, which means that you have to place a purchase order with each additional installation to purchase the additional licenses. Your investments can be spread out, provided that Software Assurance is purchased.  

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) 

Microsoft Volume licensing – the extra options 

We’ve just dropped the terms perpetual license and Software Assurance. Both terms are part of the Microsoft volume licensing structure and are often seen as additional options. Below, we’ll explain in detail what you need to know about these additional options, so you can determine whether you need them in your organization.  

Perpetual right of use or not? 

If you purchase a perpetual license, you have the right to install a particular version/edition of software. For example, if you are purchasing a license for Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, you can use it in perpetuity. Handy, right? Not quite. There’s a catch: without a maintenance program like Software Assurance, you can’t perform updates and therefore you don’t have the right to use a higher or newer version.  

Software Assurance 

This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers: “What is Microsoft Software Assurance, and do I need it?”. Microsoft Software Assurance is actually an umbrella term that describes the services that Microsoft provides to describe the purchase, maintenance, and management of the software programs in your organization. It is only available if you purchase a volume license from Microsoft. To put it simply: When you purchase Software Assurance (SA), you buy the right to the future versions of a software product. SA often buys you for a period of two or three years, during which you pay Microsoft 25% (for server products) and 29% (for desktop products) of the original purchase price. If a new version of your software products comes onto the market in those two/three years, you are entitled to it.  

Need help purchasing your Microsoft volume licenses? 

With its many licensing options, Microsoft tries to make it easy for organizations to find a licensing structure that suits them. But due to the many licensing structures and ways to purchase licenses, it can sometimes be that you can’t see the forest for the trees.  

At Q-Advise, we have made it our specialization to provide various independent Microsoft services. We always work in the best interest of your organization and not in the interest of Microsoft. With our independence and years of experience, we can guide you through the entire process: from figuring out which licensing structure best suits your organization, to installing these licenses.  

Would you like to know what we can do for your organization? Contact us today to find out how we can help you when it comes to licensing Microsoft software for your organization. Q-Advise is one hundred percent independent and will always apply the licensing rules in the interest of your organization, and not in the interest of Microsoft.   

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