Microsoft Switches Teams Rooms Licensing to Basic and Pro Options
Microsoft has changed the licensing options it offers for Microsoft Teams Rooms software and services as of this month, per an announcement.
Update 9/19: This article is now updated, incorporating answers from Microsoft that were sent on Sept. 19. Readers should know that Microsoft Teams Rooms are still licensed at the per-device level. Microsoft revised its earlier published descriptions that had suggested it was licensed at the per-user level. I've added some of Microsoft's answers to the text, labeled "Update," that may be helpful on the licensing and support aspects.
Microsoft Teams Rooms are partner-built devices that consist of full hardware kits, "collaboration bars," cameras and more, which are used for videoconferencing sessions conducted from meeting rooms. Microsoft offers the software for the purpose, including the Microsoft Teams collaboration service, but the overall capabilities vary and are differentiated by Microsoft's two plans.
Back in 2020, those two plans for Microsoft Teams Rooms devices were the "Standard" and "Premium" offerings. This week, without much public preamble, Microsoft announced a reorganization of those options into "Basic" and "Pro" offerings.
The differences between the Basic and Pro plans for Microsoft Teams Rooms devices are described in this Microsoft document.
Most of the user "engagement" enhancements for Teams Rooms devices, described by Microsoft last year, are just available with the Pro plan. Microsoft also specifically called out security and management benefits to using the Pro plan, including "access control, remote configuration, and device analytics, as well as IT service management (ITSM) integration."
The Basic plan is free with certified Microsoft Teams Rooms devices, but it is "limited to 25 rooms," per Microsoft's pricing page. The Pro plan costs $40 "per room" per month.
Update 9/19: Here's how a spokesperson characterized the licensing:
Teams Rooms Pro is a device-based, not user-based, license. One Teams Rooms Pro license is assigned to and powers a single Microsoft Teams Rooms system. Additionally, a single Teams Rooms Pro license can be used to power both 1 Teams Rooms system and a Teams Panel in the same room.
Microsoft's earlier Premium plan for Microsoft Teams Rooms, which apparently is no longer available, had been priced at $50 per device per month.
Microsoft Bows Out of Direct Support
The Pro plan is dropping the Teams Rooms direct oversight by Microsoft that had been offered previously in the now-defunct Premium plan.
Microsoft refers to such oversight as the "Teams Rooms Managed Service." Under the Premium plan, Microsoft had offered things like "24/7 management and monitoring of your room operating system and software." Moreover Microsoft had been committed to "taking remote action on your behalf as permitted."
Microsoft has now dropped out of that active role for Teams Rooms devices. A switch to partner remediation will take place instead, starting next month.
Here's how Microsoft characterized that change for Pro plan users, per the announcement:
Building on our learnings delivering on this value for the past several years, today we are announcing an evolution to one of the Teams Rooms managed service workflows. Starting October 1, 2022, incidents will automatically remediate or route to the customer's IT department or designated management partner, without the intermediary involvement from our engineers.
It's not clear from Microsoft's announcement and documentation if there's now an extra charge involved for partners to do this work under the Pro plan.
Update 9/19: A Microsoft spokesperson further clarified how the Teams Rooms managed services will work in terms of addressing incidents, as follows:
The managed service platform provides 24/7 monitoring, remediation, update ring configuration, incident diagnostics, inventory planning, and advanced incident analytics. The role of Microsoft support engineers in the incident management workflow will change on October 1, 2022. Incidents will automatically remediate or be reassigned to the customer's IT department. Under the Incidents section, the ability to "Assign to Microsoft" tickets will be removed from the portal. A new state will appear "System Investigation" which will indicate that the signal is under triage and AI investigation. Once the AI has completed investigating the issue detected, results will be posted in the ticket. The ticket will be resolved or assigned to the customer as "Needs Action" for next steps. Additional support is available through Microsoft support (Microsoft 365 feature descriptions -- Microsoft 365 admin | Microsoft Docs). For hardware & peripheral issues, it is recommended to open a case with the OEM.
Organizations that were using Microsoft's earlier plans for Teams Rooms devices now have some deadlines to fulfill, which are outlined in "Important" notes in Microsoft's document.
Microsoft noted that "legacy licenses won't automatically transition to the new licenses." Organizations have to switch to Basic or Pro when a legacy or older license expires. This switch can be carried out using the Microsoft 365 Admin Center Portal, but Pro licensing also can be purchased from Microsoft's sales channel partners.
Microsoft's document also included and "Important" (but confusing) note that "user licenses" used with Teams Rooms devices are falling out of support next year. IT pros are facing a July 1, 2023 deadline concerning these user licenses.
Here's Microsoft's note to that effect:
User licenses aren't supported for use with meeting devices. User licenses that have been assigned to teams meeting devices need to be replaced by a Teams Rooms Basic or Teams Rooms Pro license prior to July 1, 2023. Meeting devices that have a user license after July 1, 2023 will be blocked from signing in until a Teams Rooms license is assigned.
The switchover to the Basic and Pro offering took effect on Sept. 1, 2022, according to Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Tom Arbuthnot, in this blog post.
He also claimed that the Pro offering is priced at $40 per device per month, "with an annual commitment or $48 per device per month." It's a nuance that is not described by Microsoft's pricing page, licensing document and announcement.
Arbuthnot also noted that the features between the defunct Premium offering and the new Pro plan don't correspond in every respect. "There are important changes to understand," he added.
The Pro plan gives IT pros access the "Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services portal," plus "more automated monitoring and dashboards," Arbuthnot indicated.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.