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Microsoft To Raise User CAL Prices Next Month

Microsoft is planning to raise the price of its User Client Access Licenses (CALs) by 15 percent, starting on Dec. 1, 2012, according to Microsoft's partners.

The other CAL option, called "Device CALs," will remain at the same price. The rationale for the User CAL price increase is tied up with the concept that workplaces will start to see multiple devices used by employees. That change in behavior causes User CALs to have "more value," according to a statement by a Microsoft spokesperson that was given to veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley.

This bring-your-own-device (BYOD) rationale is also the interpretation of licensing expert Paul DeGroot of Pica Communications.

"I'd buy that," DeGroot stated via e-mail. "I recommend that customers switch to user CALs and even with a 15 percent increase it's still reasonable."

DeGroot noted that Microsoft makes most of its revenues not from the server licensing, but from the CALs -- as much as 80 percent. Still, he made the case for opting for User CALs for organizations that permit BYOD scenarios.

"For example, someone who connects their laptop and their smartphone to get e-mail from the corporate Exchange mail server when they are out of the office needs at least six device CALs: one Windows device CAL and one Exchange device CAL for each of their devices: work PC, portable PC, and smartphone. If they had User CALs, they would need only two: one Windows User CAL and one Exchange User CAL would cover all of their devices.

"A Windows CAL costs $31 and an Exchange CAL costs $68 (lower prices are available for larger purchases), so they could be required to spend $297 for device CALs, but even with a 15 percent increase the required user CALs would cost only $114."

Affected Products
The new User CAL price increases will apply to the following Microsoft products, according to a blog post by Microsoft partner Softcat:

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio TFS CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server RDS, RMS, Terminal Services CAL

Examples of some of the new User CAL prices, based on Select A-level licensing and excluding Software Assurance, include: Windows Server CAL at $31, System Center Configuration Manager at $72, Exchange Server Standard CAL at $68 and SharePoint Server Standard CAL at $63. If buying the CALs with Software Assurance, then add 29 percent of the price to the total.

The User CAL price increase that takes place on December 1 applies to new contracts. Customers with existing multiyear volume licensing agreements in place won't face the price increase until the end of their contract term, according to Softcat's blog.

Server Licensing Price Increases
Microsoft is preparing to release a number of 2013-branded server products, some of which are anticipated to arrive sometime in the first quarter of next year, such as Exchange 2013, Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. One exception is Lync 2013, which is expected to arrive sometime in the first half of 2013. IT organizations considering moving to those products may face some price increases compared with previous-generation Microsoft products.

According to Softcat's calculations, SharePoint 2013 server licensing will cost about 38 percent more than that of SharePoint 2010. Lync 2013 server licensing will cost as much as 400 percent more than that of Lync 2010 Standard.

The good news, according to Softcat, is that there's no change in the server licensing costs of Exchange Server 2013 and Office 2013 relative to respective 2010 server licensing costs.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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