What’s the Best Way for Me to Buy Microsoft Licensing? Part 5: Open Level C and Open Value Level C

Three columns labeled: System Pool, Server Pool, and Application Pool

Oct 7, 2014 by Seth Rodriquez

In the previous few posts of this series, we have discussed various solutions that fit the needs of small and medium businesses.  In the next two posts, we are going to GO BIG and talk about solutions for larger organizations. To get up to speed on this topic, here are the earlier posts:

Open Level C

First up on the list: the big brother of the Open program, Open Level C. When I first started learning about licensing, this licensing program was called Open Volume. And over the last seven years, I have sold it exactly zero times. One of the reasons for this is that you have to buy a lot of licenses all at once. How many? Well, that depends…

This is one of those licensing programs that will make you want to pull your hair out. It’s complicated, but I’ll try to explain it as clearly as I can …

To qualify for this program, your purchase must meet a certain level of “points” in a certain “pool.” To better understand this, imagine you are standing in front of three empty swimming pools:

  • The first pool represents your System Licenses: this includes Windows Upgrade licenses and the Desktop Optimization Pack.
  • The next pool represents your Server Licenses: this includes Windows Server, Exchange Server, Lync Server, etc.
  • The last pool represents your Application Licenses: this includes Office, Visual Studio, and a few other products you’ve probably never heard of.

microsoft licensing

For each product you add to your order, you get to dump a bucket of points into one of the pools. So if you buy an upgrade license of Windows 8.1 Enterprise with SA, then you get to dump three points into the System Pool. If you buy a license of Windows Server Standard, then you get to dump 15 points into the Server Pool. Each license of Office Standard is worth two points, so if you buy five licenses of Office Standard then you get to dump 10 points into the Application Pool.

Let’s say you keep adding products to your purchase until your pools look like this:

microsoft licensing

Once you get up to 500 points in a particular pool, then you get a Level C discount for everything in that pool. But if you reach 500 points in one pool but not the others, then you will get a discount for the stuff in the full pool but not the stuff in the other pools. So in our example above, you would get a Level C discount for all your Server Licenses but not for your System or Application Licenses.

The number of points a product is worth depends on what the product is and whether or not your purchase includes the license, Software Assurance, or both. To find out how many points a particular product is worth, you must consult the Microsoft Product List. (I warned you it was complicated!)

So after you go through all of that trouble, how much will you actually save? Well, it’s a modest discount per license, but multiplied over the high quantity of licenses you are going to buy, the savings can add up. For example, here is what you would save on Office Pro Plus licenses:

microsoft licensing

Not terribly impressive if you ask me, but at least Microsoft throws you bone for buying so much from them at one time. Let’s move on to the other Level C program which provides a higher level of savings.

Open Value Level C

The other Level C program is in the Open Value family. It is much simpler than the Open Level C program discussed above. You don’t have to worry about pools and points. You just have to have 250 or more desktops in your organization and standardize company-wide on Windows, Office, or a Core CAL suite. (See my previous post here for more information on the Company-wide option in the Open Value program.) Once you do that, everything you place on that order will receive the Level C discount.

Be aware that you must standardize company-wide in order to get any discounts. If you buy non-company-wide licenses of Office Pro Plus, you are going to pay the same price per license if you buy one or if you buy 500. But if you get all the desktops in your company standardized on Office Pro Plus, then the Level C discount kicks in when you buy at least 250 licenses:

microsoft licensing

As you can see, the discount for the Open Value Level C program is better than the discount for the Open Level C program. (They don’t call it OpenValue for nothing.) You get a 10 percent discount for standardizing company-wide and an additional eight percent Level C discount, instead of the pitiful two percent Level C discount you would get through the Open Level C program.

If you’re still reading this, then you deserve a metal. This topic is not for the faint at heart, so pat yourself on the back. As always, Mirazon is here to help guide you through the maze of Microsoft licensing. The good news is that these Level C programs are rarely used (at least in my experience). Normally if a business has 250+ desktops then they are going to use a Select Plus Agreement, an Enterprise Agreement, or the new kid on the block: the MPSA. Tune in next time as we walk through these agreements which are designed for the large businesses of the world.

Have questions about Microsoft licensing? We’ve got answers. Give us a call at 502-240-0404 or send us an email!

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