Microsoft Select Plus was introduced in late 2008 to offer customers flexibility, better asset management and a way to balance growing technology needs with predictable costs when purchasing Microsoft software licences. Select Plus was for large organisations, above 250 PCs, with multiple affiliates that wanted to purchase their software licenses and services at any affiliate level (centralised or decentralised purchasing), while realising advantages such as discount levels and licence management as one organization. Since the agreement never expired, customers didn’t need to renegotiate and renew agreements every three years as they did with Enterprise Agreements.
You may have noticed we’re talking past tense here. That’s because Microsoft announced in July 2014, at the Worldwide Partner Conference, that Select Plus would be retired. Let’s examine why and what’s replacing it.
Firstly, there is no need to panic if you have a Select Plus agreement as this has always been a phased retirement and a lot of effort has gone into ensuring you will get the best advice from your transacting partner.
The replacement program is the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). MPSA has been in the market in a limited form since December 2013, has gradually been growing in scope and will ultimately supersede all the current volume-licensing plans Microsoft offers across small, midsized and enterprise customers.
The diagram above summarises the current volume licensing programs, whether they’re aimed at small (blue) or large (purple) customers; whether they require commitment from the customer in terms of covering all qualified devices or whether a customer can purchase as much or as little as they need through a transactional arrangement. It also shows which agreements offer non-perpetual licenses (shown by the dots) and whether Software Assurance is a built-in component of the agreement (where the SA is shown in a circle) or optional (SA not in a circle). All of the products purchased through these agreements have traditionally been installed on-premises but a relatively recent change is that customers can buy Online Services through the majority of these agreements too with the noticeable exception of Select Plus.
What does the Select Plus customer do, who doesn’t want an EA and wants to buy Online Services through a transactional agreement? How did customers acquire Online Services before they could purchase them through their Volume Licensing agreements? The Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement (MOSA) exists as an alternative way of customers buying their Online Services.
You might be thinking this is sounding rather complex and fragmented. If you are, you’ve hit the nail on the head and that’s why the MPSA was introduced. A single, simplified agreement to purchase Online Services, Software and Software Assurance so you decide how and when you license Online Services and Software.
Transactional purchasing rules through the MPSA are just like Select Plus. Customers can make transactional purchases of software licences only or licence and Software Assurance. However, unlike Select Plus, customers can also purchase Online Services and work with multiple partners under a single account. The chart (click to enlarge) summarises the differences and for a comprehensive comparison of Select Plus vs the MPSA you can download this guide.
You can see why we’ve called this a phased approach and figure 3 provides an approximate timeline of where the MPSA is headed; a complete transformation of the Microsoft Volume Licensing programs to encompass enterprise customers and small/midsized customers through the Open programs.
You can read more about the MPSA on the main Microsoft site but now you know why Select Plus is being retired and what is replacing it, let’s look at the critical dates for commercial customers.
July 1st 2015 – Select Plus will no longer be available for new commercial customer agreements and the MPSA will be offered in its place. Customers with an existing Select Plus agreement can continue to renew their Select Plus agreement after this date or choose to migrate to the MPSA and maintain their current Select Plus price level.
July 1st 2016 – Commercial customers with existing Select Plus agreements will no longer be able to renew Software Assurance through Select Plus agreements, or make new purchases through their existing Select Plus agreements after the next agreement anniversary. All future purchases will be moved to the MPSA. Customers will continue to have full rights and access to all software and Software Assurance acquired under Select Plus.
One point to emphasise is as of March 2015 the MPSA does not replace the Enterprise Agreement (EA) or the Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES), so if you have either of those, you should continue to license through these agreements. Also note that Government and Academic customers purchasing through existing framework agreements or the Government Partner model should continue to do so as neither of these options will be supported through the MPSA at launch for Government and Academic customers in March 2015.
Finally, although most Select Plus customers should now look towards the MPSA, how might the Enterprise Agreement fit with the MPSA? Customers with an existing EA or EES should continue to purchase through this agreement as this currently remains best option for committed licensing. Should you want to make transactional purchases of Online Services, software licenses (with or without Software Assurance) or to renew Software Assurance, then we’d suggest purchasing through the MPSA. Customers with an existing EA can sign an MPSA if they need a transactional option for purchasing in conjunction with their EA.
You can keep up to date on the Select Plus retirement via the Microsoft site and for more information on the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, contact your Microsoft partner.