The Opaque Nature Of Microsoft Licensing

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A quick search for “understanding Microsoft Licensing use” turns up mostly links from Microsoft directly. Of course, their sponsored links take precedence, but even the organic search returns many help articles and landing pages published directly from the source.

This may be by design. Clicking on any of these links directs you to dense walls of text. Often too, there are few if any of the answers you’ve been looking for in these word landfills.

Is Microsoft hiding information from you? Not quite, but with products used by nearly every business and a long legacy of ever-changing products, there are several reasons why licensing terms aren’t so black and white.   

Confusing Rules For Microsoft Licensing

Not only the largest software company by market cap but also one of the oldest, Microsft has decades worth of different product naming conventions. This flux of marketing tactics through the decades is just one reason for some of this confusion. 

Many products have similar naming conventions. Searching for an answer for one service might return contradicting information, but that may be because it’s meant for an entirely different product.

With so many offerings, product diversity is essential. Services available for desktop, data center, and cloud all require unique marketing approaches.

Microsoft also has the upper hand by offering several purchasing channels. This allows for an experience tailored to differing customer types. However, this can create confusion, as each channel typically requires unique licensing requirements.   

The Problem Of Legacy Product Clients 

Before cloud technology and internet-based subscription services, Microsoft and other competitors sold perpetual licenses. For the most part, these physical software packages had longevity. Even if a new version was released, businesses would benefit from free or lower-cost upgrades. 

In the age of subscriptions, new features are now sold as add-ons. While sometimes free, the costs can come later on due to confusion around license use and availability. 

Many clients have been around for years, even decades. Often these legacy licenses have benefits and features no longer available to newer customers. 

Converting to a modern subscription, while retaining these benefits is possible, but requires a laundry list of compliance and negotiations. 

How Microsoft Measures License Usage

With all these different products, it would stand to reason that usage is measured similarly. Here’s another monkeywrench in the works. Across their services, Microsoft utilizes different scales to measure what you are using and how to charge the customer.

Microsoft looks at licenses per-device, per-user, consumption, and capacity. Trickier still is which unit measures which service. In some cases, only one gauge is tracked, but sometimes two or all four may have to be considered. 

Office 365, Fabric, Azure: Too Many Services? 

Most businesses in today’s economy utilize Microsoft’s online services. These cover day-to-day essential functions like email, CRMs, and reporting. These are names you’re likely familiar with; Office 365, Fabric, and Azure. 

These services offer products that are crucial for businesses in every sector. But knowing which package, how many licenses, and usage out the gate is tough to pinpoint. Many often overpay and find themselves with many unused services and licenses altogether. 

Once locked in, there’s little you can do to walk away from your contract. Migrating from Microsoft’s cloud is a massive undertaking. As time goes by, customers feel it’s easier to simply hang on to ghost licenses.

Use Near 100% Of Your Available Licenses

Microsoft is a leader for a reason. Their SaaS stack is integral for everyday communication and collaboration. For all their strengths, there’s still plenty of confusion around their license usage.  

You may have unused licenses costing you thousands every year. Turnover and employee retention are often factors. Other times, the numerous tools available may be overwhelming to learn.

When shifts happen, you can right size. The key is identifying the cause and knowing how to negotiate. 

Worldnet’s agents illuminate your accounts, creating visibility into all of your unused licenses and services. When you know just how many accounts are available to free up, you’ll see those annual savings make a significant impact. Worldnet’s always agnostic view affords unbiased, maximized results for your business.