Microsoft Office licensing is pure hell

Microsoft Office licensing is pure hell

It’s in the high 90’s in Boston today, but it’s even hotter where I am, in Microsoft licensing hell. One of my customers needs a couple of new computers. The customer has an active Open Value agreement. I want to make sure that these computers will be able to run Office 2003 Professional now and Office Professional 2007 next year, when the customer is ready to upgrade. I want to make sure that the customer can run Office on a Terminal Server, which they don’t have yet but are thinking about buying.

Now I could have made things simple. I could have bought the computers without any Office software and purchased two copies of Office Professional Plus, License plus Software Assurance. (The part numbers for this depend on how many years are left on the original agreement and whether the original agreement was pay-up-front or spread-payments. I’ll talk about the part numbers that may or may not have applied to me later on. Is anyone still with me? I’m just getting started.)

But because the customer is buying new computers, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to buy OEM software, for reasons explained here. And that’s when I paid the ferryman.

You see, I recently learned that adding Software Assurance to an OEM copy of Microsoft Office Professional does NOT give you the same rights as buying Office Professional through volume licensing. In fact, what you end up with is something in between Office Professional and Office Standard or Small Business. Eric Ligman recently pointed this out.

What Eric didn’t mention in that blog post, but did point out in Microsoft Small Business Yahoo group in response to a comment from yours truly, is that there is still an official path from Office OEM to Office Professional Plus:

– Start with Office Small Business OEM

– Add SA within 90 days

– Add the Office Professional Step-Up license

I went to Microsoft’s license configuration tool to see if I could find part numbers for this option. I got a bit stumped at this screen:


What do they mean by “Only OEM purchases of Office 2007 Small Business or Professional Plus Edition qualify for SA renewal?” I thought there was no such thing as OEM Professional Plus.

Soldiering on, I put in quantities of 2 for both Office Small Business and Office Professional Plus from Office Small Business Edition. Because I told the configurator that I was adding these licenses into a three year pay-up-front agreement that expires in April 2009, it suggested the following products:

– W87-00364, Office Small Business English SA OLV NL 2YR Acq Y2 Addtl Prod, MSRP $478

– 269-09058, Office Pro Plus English SA Step Up OLV NL 2YR Acq Y2 Addtl Prod Office, MSRP $216

Total MSRP: $694. To that, I’d have to add the manufacturer’s price for the base package of Office Small Business, which is about $280. So now I’m up to a total price of $974. At first, this looks more expensive than the “simple” alternative of adding the volume license for Office Professional Plus: part 269-09049, Office Professional Plus English Lic/SA Pack OLV NL 2YR Acq Y2 AddProd, MSRP $758. But then I have to consider that the $280 for the OEM Office also gets me Adobe Acrobat Standard, which itself has a $300 retail value. So if I want Adobe Acrobat (which I do), then it’s $1058 for the license-only method, which is $80 more than the OEM plus add-on options.

Ah, if only it were that simple. You see, I actually went through this exercise a few months ago when I was under the possibly mistaken impression that Office Professional OEM plus SA equaled Office Professional Plus. I told my software distributor that I had Office Pro OEM and wanted to add SA. They didn’t tell me I needed W87-00364 plus 269-09058. They told me I only needed 269-09064, Office Professional Plus English SA OLV NL 2YR Acq Y2 Addtl Prod, MSRP $279. That brings the OEM option down to $559, a savings of $199 or $499 compared to the non-OEM path, depending on whether or not you count the value of Adobe Acrobat.

It appears the distributor made a mistake, but I’m not sure about that yet. I hope to get clarification next week. If they did make a mistake, then I’ll have to figure out who has to pay for it.

I have to make a decision about this pretty quickly, because the customer needs those computers. The only thing I’m sure of at this point is that whatever I do, my customer and I are going to be rather unhappy.

Posted in All, MS Licensing, Office 2007, Software, Technology on Aug 25th, 2007, 6:06 pm by David Schrag   

4 Responses

  1. August 27th, 2007 | 9:29 pm

    Explain WGA to a non techy…

    I dare ya. Explain to a non techy the concepts of WGA, Validation, KMS, MAK keys. I'll wait while…

  2. September 15th, 2007 | 8:30 am

    […] the question I posed in the final three paragraphs of my recent post about the proper path to upgrade from Office Pro OEM to Office Professional Plus via a Software […]

  3. May 16th, 2008 | 1:19 pm

    […] has this happened to you?) I had completely forgotten that I had gone through this exercise in August 2007 — for the same client, no […]

  4. Antoinette
    May 4th, 2009 | 12:47 am

    Hello All,

    I am not as up on this licensing thing as the rest of you. Would anyone please explain to me this whole licensing process for Microsoft Office. How and why it is necessary, who design the software any just any information that would be helpful please.

    Thank you

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