Microsoft Licensing – should you Agree or Subscribe

Microsoft Licensing – should you Agree or Subscribe

Licensing the necessary business software for a law firm is expensive. Microsoft rakes in a substantial sum for MS Office – including Outlook, Word, and Excel.  Choosing the license model that’s right for your firm may provide some accounting/financial payoff.

Office lifecycles, BTW

By the way – did you know that Office 2007 is leaving the mainstream support phase and entering its 5 year wind-down stage in April 2012?  After the “imminent” release of the software’s final Service Pack, Microsoft will only issue O2K7 security updates, no more functional fixes, to the general public.  Office 2003 has been out of mainstream support for a while, and is only receiving security updates.

The biggest difference between the two support phases is that extended, non-security fixes are provided only to companies that have paid for special support contracts. – Infoworld


In a deployment of 250 desktops or more, it becomes cost-effective to spring for the Enterprise level agreements. Traditionally, this has meant choosing an Enterprise Agreement, which requires a commitment to the number of desktops paid for.  In more recent years, the Enterprise Subscription is being offered, which provides greater flexibility in choosing between accounting capital expenditure and depreciation, vs operational expenses. There may be financial benefits in choosing the better model for your firm.

The main advantage of the Subscription over the EA is the ability to decrease their order, or “float down” during the annual true-up. For companies that expect to experience significant fluctuations in workforce over the term of the agreement, the ability to add or subtract subscriptions to match their workforce levels can be particularly attractive. By contrast, with the EA, a company is locked in to their initial order quantities with the only option being to increase their order during the next true-up period. (via Microsoft Enterprise Agreement vs. Enterprise Subscription – Lexology.)

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