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Microsoft Expands Availability of Products and Services Licensing Agreement

Microsoft announced some new "milestones" this week regarding its emerging licensing program for midsize organizations.

The milestones concern the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, or MPSA, which Microsoft claims will help simplify licensing agreements for organizations. MPSA licensing is now available in the United States, as well as in 17 other countries, according to Microsoft's announcement, which was made at its Worldwide Partner Conference on Wednesday. A full MPSA availability list can be found at this page.

Microsoft is planning to broaden MPSA availability in Europe and Australia this fall. MPSA licensing will be globally available by the summer of 2015.

On Sept. 1 of this year, Microsoft plans to add Software Assurance (SA) benefits to its MPSA licensing. Software Assurance is an annuity licensing supplement that gives an organization the rights to upgrade to the next software release if that release falls within an organization's SA contract period. It also includes training and support perks. It's not exactly clear why SA wasn't initially offered with MPSA licensing. Microsoft has thus far offered few details about the program.

MPSA eventually will replace Microsoft's Select Plus commercial licensing. This week, Microsoft described its timeline for phasing out Select Plus, which will occur over a three-year span. On July 1, 2015, Microsoft will no longer offer Select Plus to new commercial licensees. They will be offered the MPSA instead. On July 1, 2016, Select Plus commercial account holders won't be able to purchase additional Select Plus licensing, and those accounts will be moved to MPSA accounts.

That timeline doesn't apply to Select Plus for Academic or Select Plus for Government agreements, according to a Microsoft licensing FAQ. However, those licensees still face having to move to the MPSA scheme when the MPSA becomes globally available in 2015.

The MPSA is a new licensing plan that Microsoft claims was first introduced back in December of 2013. However, the MPSA wasn't widely available at that time, according to licensing experts. Microsoft appears to have been piloting the new licensing scheme back then with some of its customers before rolling it out more broadly.

The MPSA features a new portal, which shows the organization's licensing benefits. Microsoft is claiming that sign-up for MPSA licensing is simplified, too.

One peculiarity of the MPSA is that organizations manage their MPSA licensing through a new "Microsoft Volume Licensing Center." If those organizations also have old Select Plus licensing, then they will have to manage those accounts through the old Volume Licensing Service Center -- at least until July 1, 2016, when Select Plus licensing disappears.

More details about the MPSA can be found in this article. One benefit of the MPSA is that organizations will be able to work with multiple licensing partners via a single MPSA contract. Pricing appears to be available only through Microsoft or its resellers. It doesn't appear to be accessible online.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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