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Microsoft Open License To End Next Year for Government and Education Groups

Microsoft's "Open License program" will end on Jan. 1, 2022, and not just for commercial customers, but also for government, education and nonprofit organizations, Microsoft affirmed in a Dec. 17 licensing news post.

"Starting on January 1, 2022, commercial, government, education, and nonprofit organizations won't be able to buy new or renew software licenses, Software Assurance, or online services through the Open License program," the announcement stated.

The last day to buy or renew an Open License will be Dec. 31, 2021.

Microsoft is shifting the sales of perpetual licenses over to its Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) partners as part of this plan to drop the Open License program in 2022. These CSP partners are empowered to sell perpetual licenses to organizations under a different program, called the "Open Value program," which has a Software Assurance (SA) buying option. Alternatively, Microsoft permits CSPs to sell licenses under the "Open Value Subscription" program, which is a different sales avenue that doesn't offer perpetual licenses, but it does offer SA coverage.

The "perpetual license" phrase means the license is bought once and the use rights don't expire. It contrasts with subscription-based licensing where the licensing is sold on a monthly or annual basis, with use rights ending if the licensing doesn't get renewed.

Microsoft somewhat obscurely describes these three Open licensing programs -- Open Value, Open Value Subscription and Open License -- at its "Open Programs" overview page. SA is an added annuity cost option (on top of these licensing costs) that grants organizations the ability to use the latest software release from Microsoft.

Microsoft had foretold the 2022 end of the Open License program in late September, but it was just described back then as applying to commercial customers. The program's end for government, education and nonprofit organizations, too, is a new aspect.

Commercial customers have been able to purchase perpetual licenses without SA since January 2021 under the Open Value program. The timeline is a bit different for other customers.

Microsoft's announcement offered the following table, showing that, for the most part, Open Value licenses will be available for government, education and nonprofit companies in March, but will be available through CSP partners in July:

[Click on image for larger view.] Microsoft's key dates on Open Value license availability for government, education and nonprofit organizations. (Source: Dec. 17 Microsoft licensing news blog.)

Microsoft's somewhat obscure licensing change was noted in a recent blog post by Licensing School, a U.K.-based company that helps organizations sort through Microsoft licensing details. Licensing School recommended that organizations check the FAQ section of Microsoft's Dec. 17 announcement, which has additional program-change nuances that are possibly of interest to licensees.

About the Author

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

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