4 Key Answers About The Updated Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Posted on Dec 01, 2015

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Earlier this year in anticipation of the then upcoming Windows 10 release, Microsoft also updated their Enterprise Agreement in an effort to streamline the services offered to their top client accounts. We here at FedSolutions, have since been asked time and time again about what does this new EA actually mean for businesses and organizations – and here we will attempt to address the most important aspects of these changes.

Effective as of August 1st 2015, the updated Microsoft Services Agreement and the Microsoft Privacy Statement are intended to reflect the latest Microsoft services in a more streamlined format which is meant to provide easier management of their current and future enterprise solutions.

As Microsoft likes to point out in response to user concerns, the updates in the end user facing Microsoft Services Agreement and Privacy Statement are meant to address three key principles in their philosophy:

  • Simplicity: The changes are meant to combine and bring together a number of previously separate and oftentimes repetitive statements and documents – and to make it easier for customers to locate and understand the information which is provided withing. This basically means that instead of accepting a number of individual terms and conditions for each service provided by Microsoft, end clients who more than one solution are now able to accept and review only one privacy statement for multiple services.
  • Transparency: Even though simplicity has its advantages, in a complex solution landscape used by various types of individuals and organizations, the consolidated terms and policies are intended to provide consumers with meaningful and easy to understand information about how and why Microsoft collects and uses personal data. This is addressed by the fact that the updated terms still provide a service-level insight that outline the privacy implications of adopting and using the individual Microsoft services.
  • Privacy: Learning a lesson from their competitors and customer feedback, Microsoft once again tries to make it very clear that they do not use client communications to serve targeted ads and also that they take very seriously the ability of clients to have firm control over which information they are willing to share with Microsoft.

As they specifically state in the blog post outlining these principles and changes:

It is important to note that these changes do not represent a change in Microsoft’s approach to customer privacy. We are simplifying the services agreement and privacy statement because we believe that real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand. As our services evolve, we recognize we must continue earning your trust. These changes aim to help do just that. [1]

What about changes to the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement?

Accounting for most of their revenue, enterprise clients are a cornerstone of Microsoft’s growth strategy – with an increased focus on cloud services, the changes in this document are much more important to our clients here at FedSolutions. Much like the update of the consumer facing Service Agreement and Privacy Statement, the updated Enterprise Agreement is intended to address the new reality of cloud based enterprise services and to offer a degree of flexibility that will allow enterprise customers to manage the current and future needs of their IT solutions and infrastructure as they look to transition users online in accordance with their internal adoption plans and time frames, while enabling companies to manage various licences and tools for each worker type through a single agreement.

In the past, the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement was a 3 year agreement offering: annual revisions, simple desktop management for organizations with more than 250 PCs, software assurance for on-premise software and the promise of best pricing and on-premise infrastructure discounts.

With the updated Enterprise Agreement, Microsoft is enabling its top tier clients to:

  • Transition to cloud based services at their own pace;
  • Have the flexibility to move users back and forth between on-premise deployments and online services;
  • Match and adjust online services plans that best meet the needs of end users;
  • Quickly and easily respond to additions or variations in the size of the organizations workforce;
  • Eliminate incremental online service costs in the year when a user transitions;

Which EA products move online?

With Office 365 and Windows Intune, Microsoft now allows basically all EA products to be moved online – the legacy offering of User Productivity and IT Management and Security Solutions that were licensed under a complicated mix of per User or Device, are now streamlined for the two key online pillars.

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What does this mean in terms of licensing value?

The updated EA seeks to offer enterprise clients and end users a more granular way of tool selection covering low requirements kiosk workers with basic productivity and management tools that even today do not have messaging and collaboration capabilities – and an easy way to upgrade these packages to ones rich with features and intended to satisfy the complete messaging and collaboration needs of the more demanding enterprise information workers.

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What types of transitions are permitted?

Microsoft outlines two main programatic transition types available in their product list:

  • Equivalent Transitions: meaning like to like workload transitions from on-premise to online solutions, and this does not incur online services costs during the transition year, for eg. Office Pro+ and ECAL to Office365 E3
  • Non-Equivalent Transitions:  which addresses either lesser or greater workload transitions from on-premise to online solutions  – this incurs reduced online services costs during the transition year which is applied only durig the transition year

It is important to point out that there are only certain permitted transitions for Enterprise Product elections and some transitions do in fact require organizations retaining one or more enterprise components:

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[1] Horacio Gutiérrez – Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft , Improving the Microsoft Services Agreement and Privacy Statement for consumers, June 4, 2015