Microsoft announce the end of Open Licensing

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Microsoft Open Licensing is (almost) dead. The writing has been on the wall for so long it’s almost been designated a public artwork so this is no surprise but still…it’s a bit of a surprise. Open Licensing or MOLP/OLP has been the mainstay of Microsoft Volume Licensing for decades and the primary licensing vehicle for most SMBs and smaller organisations around the world.

What changed?

A few years ago though, Microsoft introduced the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program and it fast became the anointed one, with a huge amount of focus from Microsoft and it’s been clear for a long time that (part of) the eventual plan was to replace Open licensing.

When they stopped adding new products to the Open pricelist, that was a pretty big sign but the clearest indication the end was nigh was in July 2020. Microsoft announced that perpetual software like Office Standard, Exchange Server, Project Professional etc. was coming to CSP. So far, CSP has been all about subscription software so wasn’t an option for organisations who, for whatever reason, preferred to purchase their Microsoft outright; those customers stayed on Open licensing.

What’s happening?

Perpetual software via CSP is in limited availability at the moment with general availability slated for January 2021. Nothing changes on Open licensing until December 31, 2021 – so you can continue to buy & renew licenses, Software Assurance (SA), and Online Services throughout 2021. Come January 1, 2022, commercial* customers will no longer be able to buy or renew licenses or online services via Open licensing.

*The specific mention of “commercial” customers is interesting. From that, one can imply that non-profit and academic customers will not be impacted…at least not at the same time. It’s often the case that changes apply first for commercial customers.

Post Jan 1, 2022:

Software Assurance will continue until it’s expiration, even if that is beyond December 31, 2021.

Online Services tokens can still be assigned and used, even after December 31, 2021 – but it must be within 5 -years of purchase.

For new licenses without SA, the primary (for many, only) option will be to buy via CSP.

Software Assurance isn’t available via CSP so, if that’s a deal breaker, you’ll need to look at one of the two Open Value programs – either:

  • Open Value Perpetual (OVP) – Perpetual licenses + SA
  • Open Value Subscription (OVS) – Subscription licenses with SA benefits

If you purchase via Open Licensing, work with your partner to understand which program/s will best serve you in 2022 and what additional costs you may be facing. You can see Microsoft’s announcement here.

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