Microsoft moving to per User licensing

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Starting December 1st 2014 the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) will be available as part of the Enterprise Enrollment and licensed per user. This is a major shift in Microsoft licensing policies. User based licenses already exist in a number of Microsoft offerings, such as Client Access Licenses (CALs) and Office 365 subscriptions; however, some of the Microsoft key products, such as Enterprise Enrollment have traditionally been licensed per device. This change is likely driven by these 3 things:

  • Success of the Office 365 user based solution
  • The current trend for users to have multiple devices, fueled by the adoption of intelligent mobile devices, combined with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies available in many organizations, and
  •  The risk for Microsoft to lose its grip on all these devices.

This offering will provide great value and at the same time may benefit Microsoft with users adopting Windows as the platform of choice on all of their devices.

Until now, the Enterprise Enrollment and the Enterprise Platform was a cost effective way for organizations to standardize all their devices with Windows Enterprise Operating System, Office Professional Plus and Enterprise CAL Suite. These are the main three components typically required on every computer within an organization. The Enterprise Enrollment enables all computers to run on the same operating system, provides the Office Professional Plus Suite that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Lync, etc. products and the Client Access Licenses (CAL) required to access server features such as Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, System Center, Windows Server, etc. The new Enterprise Cloud Suite is delivered per user and provides access to Office 365 E3 plan, the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) enabling users to be integrated and managed as part of the organization, and most importantly Windows Software Assurance. With this last component, Windows Enterprise Edition can be delivered to any device assigned to the licensed user.

Something very important to understand is that Windows Enterprise Operating System delivered with an Enterprise Enrollment is an upgrade license and it is meant to stay that way: a base Windows operating system is still required for a device. More accurately, a pre-existing OEM Windows Professional license is required for any device that will benefit from the enrollment except for devices that have an integrated display less than 10.1 inches in size. This excludes all devices that have been purchased with consumer editions of Windows. The Microsoft Enterprise Enrollment only provides upgrades for qualifying devices, with the new offering, assigned to a dedicated user. The main benefit of the new offering is the possibility to only have to consider users in the Enterprise Enrollment, where in the past devices were counted. Each user still requires a primary device licensed with Windows 7/8/8 Pro or enterprise to qualify for the enrollment. If a user has no such devices, a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license can be subscribed and will provide the same benefit under the enrollment.

Only users brought under the Enrollment are entitled to use the devices. This will likely exclude any home PC or other devices that can be shared across multiple users. Also, users can be reassigned within the enrollment only every 90 days.

The new Enterprise Cloud Suite brings a significant simplification to the process of managing these enrollments and adds value as all devices for a single user are now covered. It also provides a number of other benefits—for instance a user could access Windows Enterprise edition through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Windows To Go from any of his or her devices including non-Windows devices such as iOS or Android devices.

There are three ways to purchase the Enterprise Cloud Suite subscription:

  • An Enterprise Cloud Suite Add-on can be purchased to move users to the cloud while maintaining their existing on-premises licensing entitlements
  • If the organization has paid in full for Office Professional Plus, CAL Suites and Windows Enterprise (Enterprise Platform), an Enterprise Cloud Suite subscription from Software Assurance User Subscription License (USL) can be subscribed to move these users to the cloud.
  • An Enterprise Cloud Suite User Subscription License (USL) can be purchase under an Enterprise Agreement or Enterprise Agreement subscription for new users that will access cloud services. Or alternatively, these users can be enrolled in a Platform EA and Enterprise Cloud Suite Add-on combination.

Microsoft per User Licensing

It would not be completely accurate to say that Microsoft has moved from a device to a user metric for Windows licenses with the Enterprise Cloud Suite. This offering is in line with Microsoft’s focus on a “Mobile First – Cloud First” strategy as articulated by Satya Nadella. The remarkable change is the licensing of Software Assurance per user that extends to all users’ devices regardless of their operating systems. This provides great value based on the Microsoft Cloud platform and eases the management of licenses: only users will need to be counted, not devices. Despite all these simplifications that go in the right direction, assessing a license position while taking into account the associated software product use rights is a complex exercise that requires a sophisticated Software License Optimization solution.

To learn more about Microsoft Software License Optimization, please visit our website.  You may also be interested in viewing our on-demand Webinar: Managing the Full Lifecycle of Your Software Assets where you can hear from Gartner analyst Patricia Adams.

See also this recent blog by Cyndi Tackett– Microsoft Announces Major Licensing Changes for Windows OS: What Does it Mean for License Management?