In a previous post, we explored the ups and downs of purchasing Microsoft licensing from hardware manufacturers (OEM licenses) and from retail outlets (FPP licenses). In the end, I did not recommend either of those routes for business owners. (The exception was Windows licensing, because you can only buy a full license of Windows through those two channels.) In this post we will explore one of the more common licensing programs for small to medium-sized businesses.
Microsoft’s Open Business program (sometimes referred to as “Open License”) is the most basic volume licensing program available. All you need to get started with a new agreement is a purchase of five licenses. After you have an agreement in place, then you can purchase one at a time until that agreement expires. The benefit of this program is that it requires the least amount of commitment to Microsoft. Unlike other licensing programs, you don’t have to sign any long-term contract and you don’t have to count how many PCs or servers you have. You just buy what you need, when you need it. But, the downside is that you have to pay for everything up front.
Software Assurance (SA) is optional in the Open Business program. If you decide to purchase it, then Open Business provides two years of coverage. This provides you with basic benefits such as new version rights, and depending on the product it could also include some additional use rights (such as Home Use Rights), technical training, phone support, or cold backups for disaster recovery. And while we’re on the topic of SA, repeat after me: “SA is more than just free upgrades. SA is more than just free upgrades.” If you are buying SA for just the upgrade rights, you are not making a wise decision. (Stay tuned for a future post on this topic.)
To sum it up, here are some pros and cons of the Open Business program:
- Pro: Cheaper pricing than the FPP option. Since you are buying in bulk, you get a volume discount.
- Pro: Electronic license tracking. In other words, you don’t lose your license keys because someone accidentally threw the box away.
- Pro: Lower commitment to Microsoft. Just buy what you need when you need it. Only five licenses are needed to get started, and after that you can buy one at a time until your agreement expires.
- Pro: SA is optional which gives this program some flexibility. You can pick and choose what you want to cover with SA.
- Con: You are required to pay for the entire purchase up front. Other licensing programs will allow you to spread out your payments.
- Con: When comparing apples to apples, this is the most expensive way to purchase volume licenses. A lower commitment to Microsoft results in a higher price tag. Other licensing programs will get you additional discounts.
- Con: If you do purchase SA, you get fewer benefits through Open Business than you get through other licensing programs. You can download an interactive benefits chart here to see what each program includes.
Despite its drawbacks, Open Business is the most common licensing program used by Mirazon’s customer base. In my next post in this series I will cover our second most common licensing program: the Open Value program.
You can read up on more information about Microsoft’s Open Business program (a.k.a., Open License).