Microsoft Open Licensing is an entry-level volume scheme for organisations and generally offers better pricing than Retail (boxed-product) purchases. Having met the initial entry requirements, the scheme runs for two years during which further licences can be added to the scheme one or more at a time as needed.
Although the scheme expires, the licences purchased are perpetual and may be used indefinitely. (Licences purchased on an Open Licensing scheme are perpetual at the point of purchase. The scheme, however, expires after two years.)
Volume Licence products (all Volume schemes) have the advantage that the product licence includes 'downgrade rights' giving the user permission to install a previous version instead of the version specifically identified on the licence. In due course the user can revert to the version covered by the licence at no additional cost. Volume Licences also include rights for applications to be installed on a server for use in a Terminal Server environment.
Qualifying Academic institutions (including Registered Charities) may purchase specially-priced options under this scheme.
Open Licensing may be sold to the UK and qualifying EU and EFTA countries only. Clients in other regions must acquire licences in those regions.
To Qualify: The initial purchase must be for at least five licences (any product mix), though there are some exceptions where a single product qualifies (for example SQL Core licences and Visual Studio with an MSDN Subscription). Note that Licence and Software Assurance, on this scheme only, count as double, so three licences with Software Assurance would also qualify.
Products Included: All commercially available Microsoft software products on the product list except for some Monthly Subscription products and Online Services and all Step-Up options. The scheme also offers 'Rental Licences'.
License Offerings: Products are available as Licence (only), Licence and Software Assurance, and Software Assurance renewals.
Software Assurance (new version entitlement and other benefits), on this scheme, is optional but if taken must be acquired at the point of initial order (Licence and Software Assurance) - it cannot be added subsequently. Software Assurance coverage is in effect until the end of the two year term of the Open Licence - it expires with the scheme but can be renewed (on a new scheme). Licences with Software Assurance added during the scheme would not get the full two year benefit. For more details on this scheme and it's benefits, please read the Software Assurance PDF.
Pricing: There are two price bands:
- Entry Level (NL): The entry-level; requires only five licences to enter the program (some exceptions).
- Level C: Products are grouped into one of three pools – Applications, Servers, and Systems - and each pool is treated separately. Each product offering (Licence, Licence and Software Assurance, and Software Assurance) is assigned a specific points value and the initial order must achieve a minimum of 500 points (in the required pool) to qualify for that band. Once the pool is started, further products can be added to that pool (one or more at a time) for the duration of the scheme.
Pricing is always the price which is current on the day of purchase.
Agreement Term: Two years. A new scheme may be started at any time when the initial requirements are met and this is particularly important when Software Assurance is involved to ensure that the benefit is active for the maximum two years. When an Open Licence scheme expires, the licences are perpetual, but any Software Assurance/Subscription component also expires and can optionally be renewed on to a new instance of the scheme or another appropriate scheme. The Software Assurance renewal must be actioned within 30 days of the agreement expiring. Failure to renew within the required timescale would lead to the option being forfeited and Software Assurance would have to be purchased with new licences.
Payment Options: All payment is up-front at the time of purchase.
Product Fulfilment: Licence Notifications are issued by email and the Licence Administrator registers on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) website to gain access to software downloads and licence keys. Some special cases apply.
Academic & Registered UK Charities: All the preceding Open Licensing Notes apply but with the following exceptions and additions:
- Registered Charities are entitled to Academic pricing on this scheme. Registration details are required to ensure the validity of the entitlement.
- Academic Licences on Open Licensing are at an advantageous price and are available only to schools, colleges, other bona-fide academic institutions and Registered Charities, not to individuals. Formal orders on headed paper are required. The entry level minimum requirement is five licences and the Level C band has a qualification requirement of 150 points per pool. Further details on eligibility are identified in the 'Academic and Charities' section where a range of other Academic options are described.