Microsoft partners have welcomed the vendor's move to bin its Select Plus volume licensing scheme, claiming its replacement will make life easier for the channel.
The Select Plus scheme – which was introduced in 2010 when it replaced the Select Licence programme – will begin to be phased out next summer in favour of the new Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), which acts as a single contract for all licences.
When MPSA, which is also known as next-generation volume licensing, was unveiled last year it was described as the biggest shake-up since then-chief executive Steve Ballmer had hair.
The main difference between Select Plus and MPSA is that on the latter, Microsoft online services such as Office 365 can be included in the price and customers can manage multiple partners under one account.
From 1 July 2015, Select Plus will no longer be available for new commercial customer agreements and MPSA will be offered instead. A year later, customers with existing Select Plus contracts will no longer be able to make new purchases on them, meaning they will have to move to MPSA before then.
Microsoft claims the move is a "significant step to simplify licensing" and partners agree.
Gareth Johnson, chief executive of licensing services provider Crayon, said having agreements under one MPSA contract will be much easier for the channel and customers to manage.
"There is no real cost benefit to customers as such but there are incentives for partners to be able to drive customers to the MPSA. As with all new launches, Microsoft rewards their partners to drive new services," he said. "Plus, it makes it much easier – it has been simplified.
"There is a greater ability to have a more holistic view of your licensing globally. So for larger, global customers where they perhaps have decentralised purchasing methods, they will be able to see an aggregated view of all their licensing.
"It gives a greater level of power and visibility but also allows customers to be able to buy Office 365 and cloud along with on-premise."
He added that there may be some "natural pushback" from customers and partners not keen on the changes, but that in the long run, the move aligns with Microsoft's cloud-first policy which partners should be on board with.
Global licensing reseller Insight has been working alongside Microsoft to pilot the new MPSA and welcomed the end of the Select Plus scheme.
"Microsoft has been focusing on simplifying its licensing agreements over the last few years and to continuously adapt these to market and client needs," said Insight's EMEA president Wolfgang Ebermann.
"The retirement of Select Plus and launch of MPSA is an important step in that direction. The programme provides our clients with simplified terms, yet provides more choice and flexibility at the same time."
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