Microsoft Product Terms: May 2021

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Here are the Microsoft Product Terms changes for May 2021:

M365 Business Basic/Standard/Premium added as pre-requisite licenses for Audio Conferencing and Phone System

Microsoft 365 Career Coach USL has been added for Academic customers

Microsoft 365 Scheduler has been added. This includes a “human-assisted AI Service” for complex scheduling requests.

Microsoft Teams: Terms added to confirm licenses are not required to join meetings/live events hosted by licensed users. Also that external users don’t need a license for Guest access via AAD External Identity.

Power Platform: All Power Platform licenses now have “extended term eligibility” under EA/EAS/SCE

A relaxing of the terms around Project for the web and how the data can be viewed.

Various Azure services have had updated terms.

Microsoft Product Terms, November 2020

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Just 2 product additions this month:

Microsoft Cloud Healthcare Add-on:
This can be added onto M365 E3/E5, Power Apps/Automate/BI, or a range of D365 licenses

GitHub Enterprise Æ <– 👀 Not sure if this is the actual name or a typo! As a couple of people have pointed out, it’s got a bit of an Elon Musk vibe 😂

Couple of promotions added too…

Free Audio Conferencing licenses for EA, EAS, and EES customers:
You need to have a paid sub with Teams.
Requires min. 20% Teams adoption within 6 months
Not available in China or India

Free audio conferencing for CSP & Web direct:
Free (up to) 12 months licenses are available via the admin portal, not in China or India.

Microsoft SharePoint Syntex – what is it?

SharePoint Syntex was added to the Microsoft Product Terms in October 2020 – but what is it?

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Project Cortex

First of all – we need to consider Project Cortex. This is a Microsoft program to weave Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a range of their products to help users and serves as something of an “umbrella”. SharePoint Syntex is the first product “from” Project Cortex but there are clear plans from Microsoft for several more to follow.

What does SharePoint Syntex do?

Introducing the concept of “topic centers”, SharePoint Syntex aims to automatically replicate the way that humans process documents including recognizing content, extracting information, and applying metadata tags. It works across Office docs, PDFs, and images and is another example of Microsoft’s move towards Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – alongside their advances with the Power Platform and Microsoft 365 E3.

For organisations processing a lot of data within documents – such as CVs, proposals, articles etc. – this could represent a new way for them to work smarter, not harder. Utilising AI to perform many of these tasks will free up human users for higher value projects. Microsoft are working on connectors to enable organisations to pull data from 3rd party systems into the Microsoft Graph and then utilise it within SharePoint Syntex.

At launch, it only supports English and Microsoft plan to add additional languages “in 2021”. They do say however, that you can create bespoke “topics” in any language and that certain functions, such as processing forms content, are language agnostic.

Taken from


SharePoint Syntex is available as an add-on license for commercial Microsoft 365 customers and costs $5 per user per month. It appears to be available for the Microsoft 365 Business SKUs as well as the Enterprise suites.

Anyone who will be “using, consuming, or otherwise benefitting from” the capabilities of SharePoint Syntex will need a license. Microsoft list out a range of scenarios that require licenses including where users:

  • Access a Content Center
  • Create a document understanding model in a Content Center
  • Upload content to a library where a document understanding model is associated (whether in a Content Center or elsewhere)
  • Manually execute a document understanding model
  • View a library where a document understanding model is associated
  • Create a forms processing model via the entry point in a SharePoint library
  • Upload content to a library where a forms processing model is associated
  • View a library where a forms processing model is associated

This creates a whole new set of circumstances for organisations to become under-licensed and to have those wonderful, bordering on the philosophical conversations with Microsoft like “What IS the definition of benefiting?”, “What exactly is a “capability”?” etc 😁

Further Reading

Free trial and buy here

Microsoft Product Terms – January 2020

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Nothing major but a couple of interesting SQL Server bits:

1) A clause that, if you’re using SQL in Azure via Azure Hybrid Rights or DR rights, you must indicate it in the portal/API.

2) If you acquire SQL 2017 from an OEM before March 31, 2020 – you can add Software Assurance within 90 days of purchase.

That first addition feels audit related doesn’t it? While it makes sense that organisations indicate where they’re using their licenses and which Software Assurance benefits they’re using etc. – it definitely feels like Microsoft are getting things lined up for the next generation of license compliance audits which will look at cloud environments too.

Also, slightly interestingly, the Online Service Terms (OST) won’t be published until January 8th. Whether this is because people are still on holiday or due to a major change being announced – we’ll have to wait and see! 😊

Microsoft Product Terms – December 2019

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December 2019 sees the following additions:

Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (MDATP) for “cross-platform devices”. Available only via the EA/EAS volume licensing programmes, this allows MDATP to be run on up to 5 non-Windows devices concurrently.

Power Virtual Agents are added, with no extra info. These aim to enable anyone to create AI-powered chat bots and look to be a new member of the Power Platform:


There are a couple of lines added covering the recently announced Intune access for SCCM users. This confirms SA is required on the existing licenses but, perhaps a little confusingly, doesn’t mention the “Microsoft Endpoint Manager” name at all.

Cloud Platform Suite

This is a new licensing program that will be available on the January 2014 SPLA price list. It is aimed at Service Providers who run heterogenous environment – that is environments with a mix of Operating Systems such as Windows, Linux & Unix.

It is licensed in a “Host and Guest” model – the Host license covers the hardware and you will then purchase a Guest license for each Windows VM you wish to run.

Host SKU: Includes Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure Pack, host capabilities and rights to manage all guests

Guest SKU: Includes Windows Server 2012 R2 guest capabilities

For more info, check out my good friends over at Licensing School:

Permalink to Cloud Platform Suite

Microsoft Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES)

Microsoft licensing has a new family member, Enrolment for Education Solutions AKA EES.

Currently, there are 2 education specific licensing programs, Schools Agreements & Campus Agreements (I’m not including Open Academic & Select Academic as specific). These offer huge savings over standard licence costs but there are certain requirements that don’t always please people, mainly the requirements to cover ALL eligible desktops, even if they’re already licenced or not to be used for that purpose.

Last year, Microsoft introduced a pilot licensing scheme for education called SESP, which I covered here:

Read Microsoft Licensing- Subscription Enrollment for Schools

Not much has been heard about SESP since then, but it’s influence can definitely been seen in EES.

It’s interesting to note that Live@EDU, the free email+ service for Further/Higher Education establishments will be fully integrated into EES.

What’s different?

The big change is that EES is based on an FTE (Full Time Employee) count, rather than the number of desktops. This will, for almost all schools and colleges, dramatically reduce the number of licences needed.

Another change is the ability to add “non-platform” products in any quantity at any stage of the contract. This will reduce costs as well as help reduce complexity and perceived “pointlessness” of licensing. A good example of this is one we had with a customer a year or 2 ago, where they wanted 70 something Terminal Service CALs but they were required to purchase 700+ as that was their desktop count! Many grumbles were made about that as 600+ of them were never used and seen as a complete waste of money.

Something else that will help organizations further reduce costs is the ability to pro-rate the pricing of additional products, with a minimum charge of 6 months. For example:

Product added in month 3 = full price x 0.75

Product added in month 9 = full price x 0.5

You can also define an organization in a much more granular fashion so it could be:

  • Entire school district
  • Entire school
  • Just Year 11
  • Just the science departments

or more…much more flexible Smile

However you define the organization, the minimum entry point is still 300 units.

What exactly is FTE?

Perhaps not surprisingly, FTE isn’t quite as straight forward as just “Full Time Employees”! The actual calculation is:


“Non desktop PC Users” such as maintenance or food service staff can be excluded from the count. MS point out that you must include “student employees”, although I’m not sure what they are?!


EES is being made available at different time in different regions, and also through different channels. December 2010 will see the limited launch of EES.

In the US & Canada = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via Distribution & Value Add Resellers (VARs).

In EMEA = December launch of EES to Campus Customer only via Large Account Resellers (LARs) only.

In APAC = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via LAR only.

It won’t be available to primary & secondary schools in EMEA until March 1st 2011.

Microsoft VLSC N-2 Media Downloads

Microsoft’s VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Center) is the central portal for volume licensing customers to manage and download licence keys and media.

Microsoft’s Volume Licences all include “Downgrade Rights” which let you run previous version of the software, for instance:

Buy Windows 7, install XP or Buy Office 2010, install 2007

However, Microsoft have only ever provided the media for 1 previous version AKA N-1 so:

Windows 7 = Vista

Office 2010 = Office 2007

Exchange 2010 = Exchange 2003

If you needed to downgrade further than that, you were required to provide your own media…usually from a previous install.

That being said, Microsoft are now changing that!

From July 2010, VLSC users have been able to access:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003 R2

and from September 2010, the following N-2 downloads will be made available:

  • Office 2003
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Exchange Server 2003

This will make it easier for organizations who still need to run these older versions.

(via Eric Ligman)

Microsoft Licensing Changes

Microsoft licensing is an ever changing world and there have been a few changes recently that I think you could do with knowing.

Removal of Grace Periods:

Previously, all Microsoft licence programs gave customers a 30 day grace period on Software Assurance (SA) renewals…but not any more.

There is no longer a grace period for the following programs:

  • Enterprise Agreement (EA)
  • Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS)
  • Select
  • Select Plus
  • Open Value Perpetual
  • Open Value Subscription
  • The exceptions are:

    Open Licensing (OLP)

  • Schools Agreement
  • Campus Agreement

This doesn’t impact current agreements so current customers will still receive a grace period until the end of the contract they have at the moment.

Change of Channel Partner:

The Change of Channel Partner (CoCP) forms are used when a customer wants to move their agreement from one reseller to another and applies to all agreements except OLP. They currently take 30 days to process which, in my opinion is too long so when I heard there was a change coming-I was cautiously optimistic…however I was also wrong!

The CoCP forms now take 90 days to be processed, which is frankly ridiculous. That is 1/4 of a year just to change resellers and I don’t think it is in the interests of resellers or customers. It is due to an “increasing volume of CoCP forms” but I can’t believe there are so many forms flying around that a company the size of Microsoft can’t process them in less that 3 months.

The form is about 1 side of A4 and contains very few details so I struggle to see why it takes so long. I can only assume it’s done as a manual process and that makes it slower…so I suggest making it do-able online. Either:

1) A customer does it via MCLS/VLSC

2) The reseller does it via those or another tool. It is then emailed to the customer for verification.

Bada-Boom, Bada-Bing, job done 🙂

If anyone from MS can explain why it takes so long, please do.I think this is possibly the part of dealing with Microsoft that infuriates me the most!

Microsoft Licensing: Too difficult?

Steve Ballmer was hosting a Q&A today (05/10/09) and was asked about plans to simplify Microsoft’s licensing. Brilliantly, he said they have no plans to do such a thing; somewhat expectedly, Twitter has lit up with person after person commenting that it’s all too hard and Ballmer should sort it out. However…

I don’t understand why people expect Microsoft licensing to be super simple and laid out so that everyone, no matter their field of expertise, can easily understand every part of it.

I don’t know how an engine is all put together, so I rely on mechanics. I don’t know how to re-program a washing machine,so I rely on engineers. I’m not 100% au fait with all the accounting procedures, so I rely on our Finance dept. At no stage do I expect that I should be able to work out & know all these things; much less do I demand that someone does something about it!

Yes-it is important and integral to an end users business that they get the correct licences, in the correct way, as cost-effectively as possible. However the same is true of servers…and VOIP…and storage…and the list goes on but I have never seen anyone moan about how confusing speccing up a SAN solution is…and that can be pretty complicated. People are perfectly happy to accept that these things are handled by experts, people with years of experience and the time to work out all the different ways of doing something…so why not software licensing?

In fact, it’s not software licensing as a whole…in reality, it’s just Microsoft licensing that people seem to have a problem with. If someone needs help working out whether Adobe TLP or CLP suits them best – fine. Help on whether they need a Backup Exec agent for each File server or should they get a virtual agent for the server – fine. Help on whether they need CALs or NULs for Crystal Reports server – fine. However, if they need help on whether OLP or OVP is best, or if they need Windows Server Std or Enterprise or if they should get CALs or a processor licence – then it’s a whole different story. Then it’s too complicated, it’s made to confuse and rip off end users and all it does is generate more money for Bill & Steve.

Yes, I’m a Microsoft fan and yes, my job is to provide licensing solutions to customers but I really think people are being over the top now. It’s similar to what happened with Vista, it’s become cool to slate MS licensing. Just like with the ill-fated OS, I suspect many people who are complaining haven’t had any bad experiences with it, or perhaps haven’t experienced it at all, but it’s cool to moan so everyone’s joining in!

If you’ve read this and there’s some part of MS licensing that’s confusing you-please leave a comment/drop me a tweet/send me an email and I’ll be happy to help 🙂

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