Continuing our series on the best way to purchasing Microsoft licensing (see here and here for previous posts), today we will look at another popular option for small and medium businesses: the Open Value program.

If you are familiar with the Open Business program which I discussed in my previous post, you can think of the Open Value program as a distant cousin. The two are related, but very different from each other. Here is quick comparison of the two:

Screen Shot 2014 02 03 at 112130 AM

In other words, the Open Value program is similar to the Open Business program in that all you need to get started is a five-license purchase. And after you get the agreement in place, you can buy additional licenses one at a time as you need them. But, unlike the Open Business program, Software Assurance (SA) is required. Whatever licenses you purchase need to be purchased with SA.

Another difference between the two is that in the Open Value program, you are making a higher commitment to Microsoft. Unlike the Open Business program where you just hand over your money and Microsoft gives you the licenses, in the Open Value program you have to sign an eAgreement with Microsoft before they give you anything. This eAgreement becomes a binding, three-year contract where you and Microsoft enter into a (hopefully) mutually beneficial relationship.

Part of the reason this is necessary is because of the spread payment option you have through the Open Value program. Instead of requiring you to pay for everything up front (like in the Open Business program), you have the option to spread your payments out over three years.  And there is no financing fee for this benefit. If your license and SA costs $300 when you pay for everything up front, then your spread payments will be $100 per year for three years. Therefore, a formal agreement is required to give Microsoft the assurance that you will pay your bill in the second and third years.

One important thing to note if you go this route is that adding licenses to your agreement can get a little tricky. The actual process of purchasing additional licenses and adding them to your account is easy, but you have to think through the timing. Before you buy, you need to think about where you are in your three-year agreement. If you don’t, then you could be paying for SA that you will never use.

For example: if you start your agreement in June 2014, and then in April 2015 you decide you need to buy a few more licenses, you need to be careful. If you make the purchase before your anniversary on June 1, 2015, then you will be paying for 10 months of SA that you will never use because you can only purchase SA in one-year blocks. So if you buy your additional licensing and SA in April 2015, then you are going to pay for SA for the whole first year of your agreement (June 2014 to May 2015) even though the first year is almost over. But, if you can wait a couple of months, then you can avoid the charge for the first year and you will only pay for SA in the second and third years of the agreement.  So unless you really need those licenses right away, it is best to wait until your anniversary.

Because of the spread payments, the Open Value program is the solution we recommend when our clients need SA with their licenses. In other words, if you only need the licensing then you should buy through Open Business, but if you need the licensing with Software Assurance then you should buy through Open Value.

One last thing to note about the Open Value program is that there are three flavors: the Non-Company Wide Option, the Company-wide Option, and Subscription. Most of Mirazon’s customers purchase under the Non-Company-wide branch of the program and that is what I have focused on in this post. In my next post in this series I will discuss the other two varieties.

If you would like to learn more about Microsoft’s Open Value Program, you can read the information posted by Microsoft here.

Microsoft licensing can be confusing, but Mirazon is here to help. Give us a call at 502-240-0404 or send an email to with your questions.