Expert Says New Microsoft Volume Licensing Program Could Be 'Major Departure'

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Other Microsoft partners who've read Smith's blog post are more optimistic about the MPSA.

"This is a welcome simplification to Microsoft Volume Licensing program that will decrease closing friction and reduce customer confusion about software licensing options," John Gilham, principal cloud architect at Agile IT, a San Diego-based Microsoft partner, said in an email.

"They're giving customers a single master agreement [that] will consolidate the 3 to 8 different Microsoft agreements customers typically have to manage in a 200-person organization," Gilham told CRN.

Simpler licensing would not only be easier for customers to understand, it would also make life easier for Microsoft partners.

Conducting licensing training with staff and keeping track of changes to Microsoft volume licensing programs have been an "immense challenge" for Agile IT over the years, Gilham said.

"Due to this complexity, we needed to dedicate licensing specialists to stay on the leading edge of market changes," he said. "The result of this was a slowdown in deal velocity when the sales team needed to bring in licensing specialists to present 3 or 4 options to a customer."

Microsoft isn't just simplifying its licensing; it's also revamping volume licensing systems that have suffered technical glitches in the past. Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), in particular, has caused headaches for customers and partners on numerous occasions.

Smith said in the blog post that Microsoft is building new volume licensing systems "from the ground up," including Web-based tools for purchasing and choosing payment options. Customers will also be able to "manage investments" by accessing a unified view of what they've bought, Microsoft's Smith said.

Pica's DeGroot said the language about MPSA taking less time to manage is a "yellow flag." He said 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."

In a Nov. 29 blog post, which has since been deleted, Richard Gibbons, a software manager at U.K.-based Microsoft partner Bechtle Direct, said simplifying the "overall structure" of Microsoft volume licensing and also its management is "definitely a move in the right direction."

Later, Gibbons described the MPSA as "the first comprehensive, overall change to the volume licensing structure since the days Ballmer had hair." it would be tough to find a more profound assessment of the changes the MPSA represents.


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