A row of tags at a Microsoft Dynamics conference

By completely altering conventional software access and delivery models, some experts believe that cloud computing, virtualization and mobile devices, have exacerbated the complexity of Microsoft Corp.’s enterprise licencing process which many organizations already deem as convoluted.

Last November, the software company’s general manager for global licencing and pricing division, Richard Smith wrote in a blog that Microsoft was taking steps to introduce a new commercial licencing approach which promises to be “more flexible and simplified.”

However, some experts say that the forefront of this effort, the new Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), leaves much to be desired.

Redmond touts the MPSA as the “end-to-end transformation” of its Volume Licencing program which was meant to allow businesses to purchase products and service in bulk and receive discounts and benefits not available to retail customers. Volume Licencing has six plan options: three for organizations with up to 250 computers and three for organizations with more than 250 computers.

However MPSA is far from transformational and at best could only be called “a good simplification,” according to Duncan Jones, analysts for Forrester Research.

Launched in December, the MPSA has three main components:

  • An overhauled contractual structure
  • A new buying platform 
  • New licensing management systems and tools

For now MPSA will co-exist with Volume Licensing but it will eventually replace Volume Licencing’s Select Plus option which is meant for mid-size and large organizations. For one thing, MPSA’s contract will be 30 pages shorter than Select plus while covering more account types and scenarios, according to Microsoft.

Software vendors still need to work out intricacies of “mixing and matching” cloud and on-premise products in one agreement, according to Amy Konary, analyst for IDC.

It is also not clear how MPSA will impact two other Volume Licencing plans meant for large companies namely Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Subscription Agreement.

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