VLSC Software Assurance Guide

There’s an updated (January 2021) VLSC Software Assurance Guide. This is a useful document detailing how customers manage their SA benefits through the VLSC, and it’s fully updated for the imminent retirement of Training Vouchers and Planning Services.

Find this guide here: https://bit.ly/2QWvNWL.

Retirement of SA Planning Services and Training Vouchers

From 1 February, 2021 Planning Services days and Training Vouchers will no longer be allocated on new or renewing Software Assurance, and thus they are removed from the Product Terms website. Customers can redeem existing days and vouchers through December 2021, and the Software Assurance website is useful for further information: http://bit.ly/2kXtbbA.

Software Assurance benefit changes

Microsoft announce upcoming changes to three Software Assurance benefits. Here’s the summary and key dates:

Planning Services

  • 1 February 2020: cloud services offerings will be retired
  • 1 January 2022: last day to redeem Planning Services vouchers for all offerings

Training Vouchers

  • 1 February 2020: Azure training courses will be retired
  • 1 January 2022: last day to redeem Training Vouchers for all courses

24 x 7 Problem Resolution Support

  • 1 February 2021: incident-based support will be replaced with as-needed support and credit towards Unified Support

And the reason for these changes? There’s a useful “Software Assurance changes overview” document which you can find in the “Volume Licensing Programs” section of our Licensing Guides emporium here: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides.

In this document you’ll find that customers are encouraged to move to FastTrack for deployment services, that Microsoft Learn provides some excellent Azure training courses – although new training and certification offerings are in development, and that Microsoft’s future overall support strategy focuses on the Unified Support model.

The Software Assurance website is also updated with this news here: http://bit.ly/2kXtbbA.

Microsoft 365 Licensing Updates

Microsoft’s December 2018 Licensing News article has three topics of interest covering Microsoft 365 licensing updates. Firstly, EA and MPSA customers can now take advantage of a single SKU for Microsoft 365 which means that they see a single item in their Admin Centers and License Summaries, rather than seeing Office 365, Windows and EMS as separate components.

Secondly, there’s details of Microsoft’s new Home Use Program offer. Historically, HUP has been a Software Assurance benefit where users of devices licensed with Office + SA could purchase Office for their home PCs at a heavily discounted price. That benefit still exists for Office 2019 but the article reveals that this will come to an end on 30 June, 2019.

The new HUP offer allows individuals to purchase Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal annual subscriptions at a 30% discount. This is available to customers who have Office with Software Assurance but is also available to customers who qualify with a certain number of Office 365/Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licences: 2,000 for commercial organisations, and 13,000 for education or charity institutions.

Now, this isn’t available worldwide yet and although you can see it’s live in most countries (see the UK site here, for example http://bit.ly/2B6guQG), the article states that China and Japan will have this benefit on 1 April, 2019, and if you check out the US site (http://bit.ly/2sOPW1Q) there’s a message telling you that the US launch will be in early 2019.

And finally, there’s an update on the dual use rights available when a customer has a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 From SA licence. Currently there are special rights detailed in the Product Terms which allow customers to install “traditional” Office Professional Plus as well as Office 365 ProPlus. The article states that these rights will be removed from 1 August, 2019 so customers renewing agreements after that date will no longer be entitled to the special installation rights.

Find the December 2018 Licensing News article here: http://bit.ly/2R3bV2u.

New SA Benefit: Access to Exchange Online Voice Mail Service

Microsoft add a new Software Assurance benefit to the November 2018 Product Terms. Customers with active SA for Exchange Server Standard/Enterprise 2019 may use the Exchange Online Voice Mail Service to access voice messages from Outlook.

The details are on page 25, and you can download the Product Terms every month here: http://bit.ly/MSproductterms.

Retirement of System Center Global Service Monitor

Microsoft announce the retirement of System Center Global Service Monitor. Currently an SA benefit for System Center customers, this service will retire on 7 November, 2018 and customers are recommended to move to web application monitoring capabilities powered by Azure Application Insights. Current GSM customers will be notified of the retirement, and may migrate tests and alert rules to Azure Application Insights at no cost.

Find the announcement and some FAQs here: http://bit.ly/2JeRh9u.

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft announce that the E-Learning Software Assurance benefit is being replaced with Microsoft Learn, a completely free service for any customer to learn Microsoft products and services. Beginning 1st November 2018, current content and portals available to Software Assurance E-Learning customers will be retired, and access to current courses, transcripts, completion certificates and administrative tools residing on those sites will be unavailable.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2OTERcb, with links to currently available courses and an FAQ.

Software Assurance: August 2016 Product Terms

The Software Assurance section in the August 2016 Product Terms document is updated.

The main change is that the rules governing SA benefits for the MPSA have been moved into the Product Terms from the MPSA Licensing Manual.

Previously, Training Vouchers could not be converted to Planning Services Days within the MPSA but that restriction is now lifted (page 74), although it’s still not possible to convert 24×7 Problem Resolution Support Incidents to Premier Problem Resolution Support hours in this agreement (page 78).

March 2016 MPSA Licensing Manual

The major changes to this very useful document are the inclusion of the alternative ordering terms for both licences with Software Assurance and Online Services. How do these work? I’ve explained them below, but you can find the information on page 6 of the Manual if you’re interested in the official wording.

First of all, Software Assurance. We’re used to SA purchases aligning to the third Purchasing Account Anniversary and this has the benefit that all of your SA purchases in a single year will be due for renewal at the same time – which is nice and easy to manage of course. The alternative option now is to purchase a full 36 months of SA – which over time could potentially mean that you’ve got SA renewal payments to make every month. However, it’s an option if customers want it, and for both alternatives they can pay in full upfront, or upfront annually on the Purchasing Account Anniversary or the Order Anniversary.

And then there’s Online Services. In the beginning, these subscriptions were always aligned to the first Purchasing Account Anniversary and then renewals were for a full 12 months. Now this remains one option but you can also purchase a full 12 months at any time. If you buy more subscriptions for the same service within a Purchasing Account then it will align to the original order of the service.

But that’s not all because last year some of the Online Services were made available to be purchased for two or three years and these were always aligned to the second or third Purchasing Account Anniversaries. Again, this is still an option but you can also choose to purchase full 24 or 36 month subscriptions if that’s better for you. And the payment options? Well, it’s the same as the SA options – you can pay for the whole period upfront, or upfront annually on the Purchasing Account Anniversary or the Order Anniversary.

And that’s still not all! The other change to Online Services, which is documented in the Manual, is the introduction of short-term subscriptions. This is where you can buy anything from 1 to 11 months of a service with no alignment to a Purchasing Account Anniversary. With this option, subsequent orders of the same service DON’T have to align to the first order.

The other changes that the Manual contains are small in comparison: some customers will now be using the Microsoft Business Center (MBC) as their management portal rather than the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center (MVLC) and you’ll see that change on page 4. There are notes throughout that certain SA benefits (Planning Services, Training Vouchers, Problem Resolution Support, and Enhanced Hotfix Support) are not available for Academic Purchasing Accounts, and the final change is that the Office Multi-Language Pack is removed as an SA benefit since the rights to it are now included with the licence.

You can find this Manual in the Program Licensing Guides section in our Microsoft Licensing Guides emporium here: http://bit.ly/MSlicensingguides.