Microsoft Product Terms: October 2021

A couple of decent additions this month – new products across EXP (Employee Experience) and Security as well as (some) clarity around support offerings.

Viva new products

Microsoft Viva Insights & Viva Insights Capacity SKUs were added. Not only do we get a new product but we also get a new licensing piece to watch out for…the idea of additional capacity SKUs for Viva Insights analytics. I go into more depth here.

A growing security portfolio

2 x Privacy Management SKUs added – “Risk” and “Subject Rights Request”, furthering increasing Microsoft’s security position. It does, however, look like there was some confusion between “Office 365” and “Microsoft 365” for the pre-requisite licenses as they list “Microsoft 365 E1” which doesn’t exist…yet!

Support info

Microsoft have added a range of information about their support offerings including Unified Support and Premier Support, as well as some of the additional services that are available to purchase. Making this information publicly available will be a big benefit for customers and partners alike, as it hasn’t always been easy to know what was included etc.

You can see more about this in my post here.

Microsoft Unified Support – how is it priced?

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The Product Terms site now lists a whole host of information about the support offerings that are available through Volume Licensing – with links to supporting documentation too. Finding any information on Microsoft Support has always been surprisingly difficult so this update makes a welcome change!

In this post, I want to look at the information made available by Microsoft and explore what’s on offer. There are two main flavours of Microsoft support, giving access to different services and priced in different ways.

Microsoft Unified Support

This is the latest addition to Microsoft’s support portfolio, introduced in 2019, and Microsoft made a concerted effort to move as many customers as possible from the existing Premier Support (discussed below) to the new Unified Support. This wasn’t a particularly popular move as it generally led to significant price increases for organisations.

First of all, it’s worth noting that Unified Support has a relatively limited reach as it is only available in 22 countries globally:

There are three flavours of Unified Support:

  • Unified Advanced Base
  • Unified Performance Base
  • Unified Enterprise Base

The first two, Advanced and Performance, are governed by the “Support & Consulting Services Description (“SCSD”)” which is available here – while Unified Enterprise is governed by the “Unified Enterprise Support Services Description (“USSD”)”, available here.

What’s included?

Previous information, and in fact the current SCSD, break down Unified Support into 3 options:

  • Core
  • Advanced
  • Performance

but as you can see above, the Product Terms list:

  • Advanced
  • Performance
  • Enterprise

It looks like there has been a change to the levels of support but I’ve not seen an announcement saying as much.

Flex Allowance

Calculated as a percentage of your contract’s list price, this can be used for Proactive services, enhanced services and solutions, Support Technology Advisor, Proactive credits or Custom Proactive Services.

Proactive Services

Although not included with Unified Enterprise, they are all available via Flex Allowance or as a separate, additional purchase.

Unified Enterprise Pricing

Microsoft calculate your “Product Spend” aka “P” which is comprised of:

  • Cloud services purchases in previous 12 months
  • Software Assurance purchases in previous 12 months
  • License only purchases in previous 60 months

and then they price Unified Support as a percentage of that spend. For Azure, it is calculated as:

while for other products it is:

Microsoft state that:

Rates are graduated, so if a customer has $6M in annual Azure spend, it would be
calculated as 10% of the first $1.8M and 7% of the next $4.2M ($6M-$1.8M).

Microsoft Datasheet

So in Microsoft’s example of $6m Azure spend, the Unified Support cost would be:

10% of $1.8m = $180,000

7% of $4.2m = $294,000

Total = $474,000

The publicly available Microsoft documentation doesn’t provide pricing information for the “Advanced” and “Performance” levels but, based on previous information (like this), it will be the same format as above but with lower percentages.

Microsoft Premier Support

Premier Support offerings are detailed in the “Enterprise Services Description of Services” which you can download here. The document gives a pretty thorough overview of all the different services available under Premier Support including:

  • Architecture services
  • Digital Advisory
  • Implementation & Optimization

With the introduction of Unified Support, Microsoft have been working to migrate as many customers as possible across from Premier. However, it is still possible to remain on Premier Support…although it doesn’t appear to be particularly easy.

What’s included?

There are different levels of Premier Support listed in the Product Terms:

although, as mentioned, this isn’t Microsoft’s preferred option anymore.

Optional Enhanced Services & Solutions

Additional paid services are available, these include:

  • Designated Support Engineering (“DSE”): DSE services are delivered as described in the applicable services description (SCSD or USSD)
  • Rapid Response services are delivered as described in the applicable services description (SCSD or USSD)
  • Microsoft Azure Event Management (“AEM”) services (Unified Support only)
  • Office 365 Engineering Direct services (Unified Support only)
  • Developer Support services
  • Support for Mission Critical services (Unified Support only)

You can see this, and more info, in the Product Terms here.


It’s good that Microsoft is making this information available – anything that enables customers and partners to do more research and be better prepared for sales conversations/renewals etc is a good thing. However, it isn’t complete and does seem to contradict some of the longstanding info regarding the support levels etc. so there’s still a fair amount of confusion.

If anyone has anything they can add to this and/or any corrections, please let me know.

Further Reading

Support & Consulting Services Description (“SCSD”)

Unified Enterprise Support Services Description (“USSD”)

Enterprise Services Description of Services

Unified Support datasheet

Product Terms Support page

Microsoft Viva Learning update

Photo by Janko Ferlic on

Microsoft have released more information about the upcoming Viva Learning via Message Center post MC287944 (that I can’t actually find in there at the moment).

Viva Learning will hit General Availability in “early November” meaning that a new pre-installed Viva Learning app will become available in Teams. A basic Viva Learning subscription will be available free of charge to Microsoft 365 users (the exact licenses are still to be confirmed) and will grant access to:

  • Microsoft Learn
  • Microsoft 365 training
  • 125 x LinkedIn Learning courses

There will then be a Viva Learning Premium (expected to be around the $4 pupm mark) that will give features including:

  • Learning Management System (LMS) integration
  • Third-party content integration
  • Additional admin capabilities
  • and more

As more info becomes available, I’ll be sure to update you!

For more info on Microsoft Viva as a whole – check out my post here.

Microsoft acquire Nuance

Microsoft announced this month ( April 2021) that they’ve acquired Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion – their 2nd biggest acquisition behind LinkedIn.

You may be familiar with Nuance for their Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software and/or Power PDF but the focus for Microsoft is their work in the Healthcare sector – much of which is built on Azure. It follows Microsoft’s announcement of their “Cloud for Healthcare” vertical offering and clearly indicates they see it as a growth market for them; they believe it will bring their Total Addressable Market to $500 billion in the healthcare provider space – even a small piece of that will make that $20 billion seem like small change!

Going forward, Nuance will be included within Microsoft’s “Intelligent Cloud” division and Nuance will retain its CEO, Mark Benjamin, who will report into Scott Guthrie – executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft.

See Microsoft’s announcement here.

Microsoft Product Terms May 2020

May 2020 brings:

  • A new Office 365 license for “Premium Messaging” which requires F1/F3/E3/E5 as a pre-requisite. Can’t currently see any other info about this but I’ll keep looking!
  • Retirement of Windows Thin PC as an SA benefit.
  • Removal of text around converting Training Vouchers into Planning Services days.
  • Clarification around SQL + containers.
  • Clarification around From SA licenses.
  • Updates to reflect the various Office/Microsoft 365 related name changes.

With the SQL clarification, nothing has changed so I wonder if this “clarification” is Microsoft’s way of giving everyone a reminder of the rules before they start to enforce them in compliance checks and audits?

Microsoft Product Terms, April 2020

This month’s Product Terms has got a few cool additions – one in particular!

Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection for Servers

This was previously only available via an Azure Security Center subscription but can now be obtained via EA/EAS and CSP. It covers Windows Server 2008 R2/2012R2/2016/2019.

In order to purchase MDATP for Servers, organisations must have a combined minimum of 50 licenses of:

  • Microsoft Defender ATP
  • Windows E5/A5
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Security

Interestingly, if ATP for Servers customers decide to migrate to using Azure Security Center (ASC) on those same servers, active ATP for Server licenses will be credited against the ASC price.

New Microsoft 365 SKUs

April 2020 sees the introduction of:

  • E5 eDiscovery & Audit
  • E5 Information Protection & Governance
  • E5 Insider Risk management


For eDiscovery & Audit and Insider Risk Management, the license prerequisites are:

  • Microsoft 365 (any)
  • Office 365 (any)
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • OneDrive for Business

For Information Protection & Governance, the prerequisite licenses are:

  • Microsoft 365 (any)
  • Office 365 (any)
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Azure Information Protection
  • EMS E3/A3

Office / Microsoft 365 F1 & F3

Microsoft have renamed the old F1 licenses to F3, and introduced a new F1 SKU to sit underneath, with limited capabilities as it only includes EMS E3 and “limited” Office services. The F1 license is pretty much just Teams really – no email, no Onedrive etc.

Microsoft licensing for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

I’ve saved the best ’til last here – in my opinion at least! RPA is a growing area of business – the idea of using bots, rather than humans, to perform repetitive tasks to increase efficiency and, when used properly, job satisfaction. However, it’s also a licensing minefield – and Microsoft have been very quiet on this subject…until now! Well, actually, they’re still being quiet because these new additions were just slipped into the April Product Terms without any other mention – it strikes me as odd because these new licenses could herald a pretty significant change.

What have they added?

The Product Terms now contains:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/A3 – Unattended license
  • Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan
  • Power Automate unattended RPA add-on

There’s not a huge amount of extra info in the Product Terms but it does say that the E3/A3 unattended license includes Office 365 E3/A3, Windows 10 E3/A3, and EMS E3/A3 – no mention of them being restricted or limited at all.

Some definitions

The OST (Online Service Terms) gives more information. Microsoft’s definition of RPA is:

“An application (or set of applications) used to capture data and manipulate applications to perform repetitive tasks. Bots operate upon any UI element of Windows 10 within an OSE and/or operates upon any Office application in any OSE.”

Attended bot = This is a bot that “assists a person to execute automation on the person’s local and/or remote workstations.” They go on to say that “it operates concurrently with the person on the same workstation/s to accomplish repetitive tasks and is triggered by explicit actions of that person“.

In this scenario, it sounds like you would assign a regular M365 license to both the user and the bot?

Unattended bot = “Any bot that doesn’t strictly conform to the definition of an attended bot“.

The Power Automate unattended RPA add-on can be added onto the Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan and Power Automate per flow plan.

Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft have been working on cloud telephony for several years – at least 10 by my count – and it’s been available through Office 365 E5 for a few years now. E5 is very much an enterprise level offering so it’s great to see that Microsoft have now introduced Business Voice for organisations of 300 seats and below.

It requires an underlying package that contains Microsoft Teams and includes a phone system, audio conferencing, and calling plan all bundled together and is available via CSP in the UK & Canada immediately.

How to buy

It is available as an add-on to:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 A1/A3
  • Office 365 E1/E3
  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Microsoft 365 A3/E3

Includes 1,200 minutes per user (in the UK), can host up to 250 people in an audio conference, and costs £12.00 per user per month.

Office 365 / Microsoft 365 already represents a great offering for small to medium businesses, giving them so many of the things they need all in one package. Adding telephony strengthens it even more and surely makes Microsoft 365 the “go-to” for the vast majority of organisations…and a difficult proposition to compete against if you’re Google et al.

Further Reading

Microsoft Announcement –

Microsoft Product Page –

Power Platform Personal Payments

Users can buy their own Power Platform licenses without corporate checks.

In a move that could be seen as a way to anger asset managers across the world, Microsoft have decided to allow individual users to purchase licenses for Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow via self-service – that is, without any level of central admin oversight.

This move can easily lead to license non-compliance, software over-spend, and a weakening of data security and GDPR compliance. Microsoft say it is “based on customer demand” but I’m sure that pretty much everyone except the users will be against this as an idea. No IT admin, asset manager, procurement manager, or budget controller has ever wished it was easier for users to buy licenses off their own back!

As it stands, there is no way to turn this “feature” off although I feel this might be another one of the increasingly frequent scenarios where Microsoft “listen to feedback” and make some changes. It’s clearly an attempt to reduce the friction at the point of adoption for Microsoft’s Power Platform versus competitor products (such as those from Salesforce) and while the final users may welcome this change, it will only serve to stoke ill will with many in the corporate world I’m sure.

The licensing for Power BI, Flow, and PowerApps has a number of potential pitfalls and allowing decentralised purchasing by people where licensing isn’t a concern is a recipe for disaster. Equally, there will be plenty of cases where users don’t realise that they’re already licensed for some/all of these components, leading to companies paying for more licenses than required. Concerns around data also seem fair – this move will make it more likely that company data is stored in places that can’t be seen by the company overall.

Microsoft: Windows & AI – all change

On March 29th, Microsoft announced another company re-org. This one sees some big changes to the Windows side of things and gives a good overview of where Microsoft’s sees its future.

The biggest news is that Terry Myerson – Executive Vice President of the Windows & Devices Group (WDG) is leaving, and the team is being divided across two new entities.

Experiences & Devices

This team will be led by Rajesh Jha, who’s been at Microsoft since 1990, is a member of the Senior Leadership Team and most recently headed up engineering for Office 365.

In his email to Microsoft employees, Satya Nadella says:
“Computing experiences are evolving to include multiple senses and are no longer bound to one device at a time but increasingly spanning many as we move from home to work and on the go”

Hopefully, this gives an idea of where this team is heading – creating software, and devices, that work together in ways that match how people want to use them. Software experiences that work seamlessly across multiple devices – of different types and with different operating systems – are what more people are looking for. As the consumerisation of IT continues, users having multiple devices with Windows, iOS and Android will more and more become the norm within business settings.

As Nadella goes on to say in his missive:
“These modern needs, habits and expectations of our customers are motivating us to bring Windows, Office, and third-party applications and devices into a more cohesive Microsoft 365 experience.”

It’s interesting that 3rd party apps are included here. He could be referring to managing them via EMS (the 3rd element of Microsoft 365) or is he perhaps hinting at something else?

Cloud & AI

Scott Guthrie (often seen in a red shirt) will lead this team. Guthrie has been at Microsoft since 1997 and is known for his work in many areas, including .NET. Satya Nadella says the goal of this team is to “drive platform coherence and compelling value across all layers of the tech stack” – this will include things such as “distributed computing fabric”, AI infrastructure, tools, and higher-level services around knowledge and cognition.

Other changes

There are more teams being created and more people being moved, all to support the drive towards a better device/app experience and to further the growth of cloud and AI. These include:

Panos Panay

The man in a large part responsible for the success of the Surface product line is now “Chief Product Officer”, tasked with “creating new categories and opportunities for the entire ecosystem”. This is an interesting move – what other devices, that wouldn’t come under the Surface banner, could be on the horizon?

Joe Belfiore

He will continue leading Windows experiences and “drive Windows innovation in partnership with the PC and device ecosystem”. Satya also says that “Joe will share more about the Windows roadmap at Build” – with the recent talk of multi-user editions of Windows (to facilitate access to remote desktops without requiring Windows Server), I’ll certainly be paying attention between May 7-9.

Windows Platform Team

This team will move into Azure team and help “accelerate (Microsoft’s) efforts to build a unified distributed computing infrastructure and application model”. Interestingly, the team led by Roanne Sones, which deals with technical engagement with OEMs, ODMs and silicon vendors, will also join the Azure team.

New teams

Two new teams have been created:

• AI Perception & Mixed Reality
• AI Cognitive Services & Platform

Which certainly show that Microsoft’s focus on Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality (such as HoloLens) is becoming ever more integral to Microsoft’s future aspirations.
As part of this, Harry Shum (EVP, AI & Research) & Brad Smith (Chief Legal Officer) have created the AI & Ethics in Engineering & Research (AETHER) committee, to help keep Microsoft’s AI technologies in check.

Further Reading