Microsoft Licensing Showcase

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Grey Matter, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Licensing and Software Asset Management, has been selling Microsoft volume licences since 1986 and more recently, we have been accredited as a Direct/Tier-1 Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). All of our licensing experts are Microsoft Certified Professionals or have passed the Microsoft Licensing Sales Expert exams.


It's important to choose the right Microsoft licensing scheme for your business needs. Please call our experienced licensing team today!

Microsoft Licensing Options Summary

Below is an overview of all the licensing options available from Microsoft. To read a summary of the different options please expand the sections below. To navigate the site and read full details on each option please choose from the options to the left.

Full-Packaged Product (FPP, Retail-Medialess)

Suitable for home users and organisations with less than five desktop PCs. The licence itself - called an End User Licence Agreement (EULA) - is displayed electronically at the time of software installation. The software is not supplied with the pack, but a key is supplied to activate the installation from the Microsoft download site.

OEM (or OEI) Software

Gives PC manufacturers and System Builders the ability to provide a limited range of key software pre-installed on a new desktop PC. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and OEI (Original Equipment Installer) software (such as Windows Desktop and Windows Server - Datacenter, Standard or Essentials) has more restricted terms and conditions applying to it than if licensed via FPP or Volume Licensing. OEM software cannot be transferred which means that it lives and dies with the machine it was installed on. OEM software must be preinstalled and then resold to another party, the system builder supplying the new PC is responsible for supporting the PC and must issue end user license terms to the third party acquiring the PC.

For Windows 8/8.1 (Windows Desktop), Microsoft has also introduced an OEM Personal Use Licence. There are strict rules and limits primarily for use by those building computers for personal use.

Rental Rights Licences

Provide an easy way for organisations (e.g. leasing companies and Internet cafes) to rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties with licensed, qualifying Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software installed. Microsoft introduced Rental Rights licenses because Windows and Microsoft Office licenses acquired through Microsoft Volume Licensing, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers (MARs), or at retail as Full-Packaged Product (FPP), do not permit renting, leasing, or outsourcing the software to a third party. Rental Rights Licences, are available only on Open Licensing and Select Plus and are ‘additional’ to the underlying normal Windows Professional OEM, Retail or Upgrade licences & Office Professional Plus and Standard volume licences. They are one-time licences that are valid for the term of the underlying software agreement or the life of the PC.

Volume Licensing Programmes

Are suitable for organisations with 5 or more PCs, though some schemes require a higher level of commitment. There are various options available in perpetual or non-perpetual forms to cater for the different needs of organisations. Where a subscription benefit is part of the product, that component lasts only for the term of the scheme. Volume licensing programmes are an easy and generally more economic way to buy multiple Microsoft software product licences. With volume-based licensing, licences are viewed and administered on a centralised Microsoft licensing site (VLSC - Volume Licence Service Center).

Licensing for Development Teams

Subscribing to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) enables development teams to reduce their development software management challenges. Visual Studio with MSDN provides cost-effective software development and test licences for organisations developing for the Microsoft platform. MSDN is a subscription service available as an FPP product and/or through the volume licensing schemes - which are generally the more advantageous way to obtain the subscription.

Licensing Programmes for Academic Insitutions and Charities

There are a range of flexible licensing programmes available for customers from academic institutions. These programmes aim to meet the different requirements of staff and students in qualifying educational institutions: universities, colleges or schools. A small number of these programmes extend the benefits to bona-fide Charities and non-profit organisations.

Licensing Programmes for Public Sector in the UK

There are a range of flexible licensing programmes for customers in the public sector including the Microsoft Open Value Licensing Programmes for Government and the Select Plus and Enterprise licensing schemes. Microsoft has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which defines which entities in the UK are considered public sector entities by Microsoft in relation to its volume licensing programmes.

ISV Royalty Licensing

The ISV Royalty Licensing Program offers Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) a convenient and more economic way to integrate Microsoft products into their software business applications, into a unified solution, and then replicate and distribute a fully-licensed solution to their customers. Grey Matter Ltd is an authorised ISV Royalty Licensing Program distributor in and for the UK and Ireland. We can provide the necessary ISV Royalty License and Distribution Agreement documentation, and assist you in completing and submitting it. Grey Matter is then responsible for providing pricing and for managing your account, receiving your reports and payments. Agreements through an ISV Distributor are known as Indirect Agreements.

Online Services (Hosted Services)

Traditionally, software is installed, used, managed and supported locally on a computing device within your organisation’s environment. By contrast, with Online Services, a critical portion of the software generally resides with a service provider outside your organisation’s IT environment and the service provider is responsible for managing the operation, upkeep, and maintenance of the software on their systems. Microsoft Online Services, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, are subscription-based offerings, and include Office 365, Windows InTune and Azure.

Bing Maps

Bing Maps is a web mapping service offering maps of the world, street map search, route planner, directions, satellite and aerial images, Birdseye view and 3D cities. It can be licensed to be incorporated into public web sites or intranets/extranets and packaged applications. The Bing Maps platform enables developers to get a rich set of tools (APIs) that help them incorporate mapping in their applications. Bing Maps licences are available through certain volume licensing schemes (e.g. Open Value and Select) but Grey Matter is also an authorised Partner Distributor for Bing Maps for Enterprise. The volume licensing options are not suitable for GPS Asset Tracking or customers who want to replace the basemap or imagery or use Ordnance Survey or OS derived data. Bing Maps for Enterprise has those additional features and offers three licensing models – transactional, known user and tracked assets.

Service Provider Licence Agreement (SPLA)

SPLA is an agreement used by service providers supplying hosted solutions to 3rd-party clients. Service Providers may be at liberty to rent/sell time on their hardware, but normal Microsoft licences do not permit the licence holder to sell or rent the use of their software to 3rd-party clients. The SPLA scheme allows the rental of the software to clients on a monthly charge basis.

Software Assurance

Software Assurance is a volume licensing scheme feature offering a broad range of benefits in addition to the basic software product licence. On some volume schemes it is an option to be taken at the time of the licence purchase (Open Licensing and Select Plus) on other schemes it is a standard inclusive part of the offering (Open Value, Enterprise, School and Campus). As well as giving upgrade entitlement, it combines the latest software with tools and resources to help you deploy, manage and migrate your software.

SQL Server 2016 Licensing

With the release of SQL Server 2016, some changes have been made to both the editions and the licensing models available. There are now four main editions; Express, Standard, Enterprise and Developer. The Business Intelligence edition has now been removed, but the Web Edition still remains only available under SPLA.

Note: Business Intelligence users, with Active Software Assurance, will have the opportunity to migrate to the Enterprise edition, under a Server and Client Access Licence model.

The Express edition is a free download to all users and carries basic functionality to support basic requirements.

The Server and CAL licensing model is still available for the Standard Edition, and a licence is required for both the Server and any Client Access (licensed by Client Access Licenses, either User or Device), directly or in-directly. The Standard edition is also available in the Per Core model, which is sold in two-core packs, with a minimum of 4x cores to be covered per processor on the server. So, for example, if you had a server with 2 processors, each with 2 or 4 cores you would need to purchase a total of 8 core licenses.

The Enterprise Edition includes all of the functionality included in the Standard edition but is only available to purchase under the Per Core licensing model. Again, each core must be assigned a licence with a minimum of 4 cores needing to be purchased per processor. If you cover all of the cores, on the server, with Enterprise Core with Software Assurance licenses, you will then be licensed for unlimited virtualisation for that server.

The Developer edition is a free download to all Visual Studio Team Services members (registration is free) and is licensing per user, for a development and testing setting only. No production use is permitted for this edition. This edition gives the same functionality as the Enterprise edition.

Virtual Machines are licensed with a requirement of 4x cores (minimum) assigned. You may allocate more cores to each VM, as necessary. You may utilise Licence Mobility to migrate Virtual Machines across multiple hosts, which requires Active Software Assurance. Software Assurance also adds the benefit of rights to use a secondary passive fail-over server without the need of an additional SQL Server licence. This benefit is associated with the primary licensed SQL Server.

SQL Server licenses may be used with a third-party hosting provider (such as Azure) when those licenses have Active Software Assurance. Any associated CALs would also require Active SA in order to be compliant with the hosted licence. This benefit is known as Extended Use Rights.

For more information on SQL Server 2016, or to discuss more specific licensing scenarios, please call us.

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