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Microsoft To Debut Simplified Volume Licensing Option in December

Microsoft will launch a new volume licensing offering for organizations dubbed the "Microsoft Products and Services Agreement" (MPSA) on Dec. 1.

The MPSA promises a more simplified approach to volume licensing, such as reducing the number of steps to complete a volume licensing agreement. Organizations will have the use of "Web-based tools" to view their software assets, make payments and do planning, according to a Microsoft blog post on Friday attributed to Richard Smith, general manager of Microsoft World Wide Licensing and Pricing.

MPSA initially will be available for "medium size" companies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany in the next month. However, Microsoft plans to roll it out more broadly in 2014, according to the announcement.

Few details about MPSA were described, but Microsoft promised more details "in the coming months."

"We are simplifying our volume licensing contract structure to align with customers' organizational needs," Smith wrote in the blog post. "The result is a single Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) that properly reflects customers' organization and entities; streamlines procurement for a better, faster experience; and, delivers the best overall value based on total volume."

The MPSA is based on feedback from a pilot program conducted last year. Microsoft's announcement cited positive reactions from two participants in the pilot program, Clyde and Forth Press and Hobs Reprographics.

MPSA details apparently haven't been circulated widely. It's not clear if the MPSA program will replace other volume licensing programs or add to them, such as Open programs and the new Server and Cloud Enrollment volume licensing program for Enterprise Agreements that kicked into effect this month.

"This looks like a major departure and it is something that Microsoft has been hinting at for a long time," said Paul De Groot, founder of Pica Communications and a senior consultant for Software Licensing Advisors, in an e-mailed response. "We don't have any copies [of MPSA] yet, so we're not in a position to comment on it. It's not available in the usual places."

DeGroot, an expert in Microsoft licensing, advised caution at this point.

"Given the revisions that we have seen in [Microsoft] agreements recently, we advise customers to be very cautious in signing one of these," he stated, in response to a question. 

DeGroot noted that Hobs Reprographics is a small firm with about 300 employees. Moreover, Hobs Reprographics and Clyde and Forth Press are in the minority of Microsoft customers for heavily relying on Microsoft cloud services. He added that simplified contracts are fine, but they could be expensive.

"Customers have always been able to reduce the time they spend managing their Microsoft agreement by just signing a new or renewal contract, no questions asked," he said.

Too little known at this point and the firms cited by Microsoft are just too small to be relevant as an example for larger organizations, he explained.

Questions sent to Microsoft's public relations, seeking more details about MPSA, went unanswered at press time.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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