MSPs React to Microsoft Ending Open Licensing

“As of January 1, 2022, commercial customers won’t be able to buy new or renew software licenses or online services through the Microsoft Open License program. New license-only purchases should be transacted through partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program.”

This announcement by Microsoft has elicited mixed reactions among IT stakeholders. We caught up with MSP practitioners discussing its impact in one Reddit group chat that will form the basis of our article today. Most service providers think that this move is all about MRR, much to the detriment of the end-users’ wallets.

They argue that MS is exploiting their monopoly of the Office suite space to advance a change that no client has asked for and is purely motivated by the equation’s business side. According to Microsoft, however, this is a way of “removing purchasing options that no longer meet customer needs.” But first, how different will the processes of renewing or obtaining new software licenses, online services, and Software Assurance be?

How Does Microsoft’s New Commerce Experience Change the Licensing Process?

For starters, there are no changes whatsoever to Open Value or Open Value Subscription programs. If you have any perpetual software licenses obtained via the Open License program before the 1st of January 2022, you will have full rights and access to them until expiry. That said, here are some notable changes you need to be aware of:

How Can You Purchase Perpetual Software Licenses Only? (without Software Assurance): After 31st December 2021, you will be able to purchase perpetual software licenses from qualified partners only. The selected partners must be participating in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program. End-users can check Microsoft’s webpage to find a partner or confirm if their current software resellers have been listed for the CSP program.

For Clients Who Have Software Assurance Coverage via the OL Program

  • Their Software Assurance terms (access and privileges) will run until they expire, even if they are due for expiration past December 31, 2021.
  • For future purchases that involve Software Assurance, the best option will be to use the Microsoft Open Value program.

Note that the Microsoft OV Subscription program doesn’t provide perpetual software licenses. However, it is a cost-effective subscription model that comes with the right to use the software during the agreement’s term and include Software Assurance.

What If You Have a Current Subscription Through the Open License Program? All unused online services tokens (must be within the five-year term of token purchase) will still be valid for assignment and usage, even past January 1st, 2022.

Any additional online service subscriptions after the said date will only be bought through a verified CSP. Alternatively, online services tokens can be purchased via the OV program or OV Subscription program, or directly from the Microsoft Store.

How Have MSPs Reacted to These Changes?

For Microsoft, these changes seek to give users a “consistent and simplified purchase experience to help them digitally transform their organizations at their paces, with greater flexibility in how and where they buy.” MSPs seem to hold a dissenting opinion if their recent Reddit group chat is anything to go by. At this pace, some say that it won’t be a surprise if Microsoft decides to retire Office on RDS in the future.

Isn’t it just ironic to be in a sub for businesses dedicated to MRR and still complain about how MRR isn’t a good thing? In their defense, MSPs say they’re safeguarding their clients’ interests who prefer CAPEX to OPEX. Also, shared workstations are more cost-effective and much easier to license with perpetual box copies than monthly subscriptions.

As much as you and their clients may disagree with monthly fees for software that they barely use, Microsoft’s new commerce experience is still the best option in the market.