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March Madness Final Four: NCAA Basketball & Microsoft Ending Extended Support

By Rob O’Shaughnessy, Software Licensing Specialist, Pre-Sales Technical Support

It’s the Final Four for the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, and if you’re like me and your bracket is busted the only thing to root for is a potential happy hour deal at your local watering hole. By midnight on Tuesday morning a victor will be crowed, and there will be fans celebrating their teams win on the court (and winning bets) and fans mourning their loss both on the court and perhaps in their wallet.

On April 8th the season will be over and a new beginning of sorts will occur as teams prepare for the loss of their star players to the draft and or graduation. Some of these players have been loyal to the school and had productive years as players and students. They’ve given it their best to succeed and they should be commended for their efforts, but, as reality sets in, one must understand that it’s time for them to go. Newer, fresher players will replace them because the talent will continue to get better. It’s just the nature of the beast…

Ironically we’re in the Final Four days until Microsoft stops supporting iconic products of Exchange and Office 2003, Windows 2003 Server and Windows XP Professional. On April 8th Microsoft will graduate these products and focus their attention on their more current offerings. There are still a lot of customers running these products, and why not, they’ve worked great, but the reality is they are over 10 years old and in four days will no longer be supported. If you’re someone using these products and are looking to make an upgrade, what can you do?

Microsoft has offered, and continues to offer, its products to be purchased through its various license programs. Microsoft technology can still be purchased as a perpetual license and be hosted on premise. In addition, Microsoft also offers some of their products through Office 365, which is their cloud technology sold via a subscription model versus owning a perpetual license. With regards to on-prem/perpetual license vs. cloud/subscription: each customer will have their own preference to choose which licensing model makes sense, but I can tell you this, Microsoft’s investment is in the cloud and they are making Office 365 a very attractive option. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the numbers.

One of Microsoft’s more popular products is Office Professional Plus. To license Office Pro Plus with 3 years of Software Assurance (SA) in the Open Value program it would retail for $954 a device. After the 3 year SA period is up the renewal price for 3 more years of SA is $444 MSRP. Over a 6 year span the price to license a single desktop of Office Professional Plus is $1,398. By getting Software Assurance you’ll be receiving the latest editions that come out as well as Home Use Rights, which allows employees to purchase Office Professional Plus for personal use at a very cheap price.

Now the very same Office Professional Plus through Office 365 retails for $12 per User per Month, which is $144 a year. Over a 6 year period the price of Office Professional Plus through Office 365 would be $864, which is a $534 savings compared to purchasing through the aforementioned volume license option. Office Professional Plus through Office 365 is licensed per user and each user can run it on up to 5 business devices. So an employee can run a copy on their work computer, their Mac, home PC etc. Now, let’s say you don’t want Software Assurance and wanted to look at just the license cost of Office Professional Plus. Well, that would run you $508 per device. To compare, one could purchase Office 365 for 3 years for roughly the same amount, get the latest technology on 5 devices and true-up or true-down the user count depending on how many users need to run Office.

To take it a step further, Microsoft also offers different Office 365 bundles and one of their more popular bundles is the E3 Plan which includes Office Professional Plus, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online Plan-2. This is also licensed per user and runs for $20 per User per Month or $240 a year. When you look at the technology baked into that bundle it’s hard not to see the attractiveness. Plus, since you’re not loading the SW on your own infrastructure, money can be saved on hardware costs.

Lastly if you’re an SMB customer, Microsoft is running a promotion called the SMB Advantage where you can receive subsidy dollars on purchases of Office 365. From now until the end of May, Microsoft will cut a check for 15% on MSRP for Office 365 orders in April and 10% for orders is May. In addition, if the E3 or E4 Plan is purchased, Microsoft will kick in another 10%, so it would be 25% subsidy for April and a 20% for May. To put it in perspective a 100 user purchase of the E3 Plan in April would be a $6,000 subsidy check. This can be used for services, more software or even hardware. Please reach out to your GreenPages Account Executive for more details and to see if you’re eligible.

So as you can see, Microsoft is very cloud centric, and it’s not too late to upgrade that older technology via avenues in place to help you do that. Please reach out (you can fill out this form or send us an email at [email protected] ) if you would like more details and to see if you’re eligible. GreenPages can also assist you with any migrations needs and questions you may have.

Come Monday night, when Jim Nance is handing over the NCAA trophy and “One Shining Moment” is playing in the background, rest assure that Microsoft won’t be picking up your call to assist with your XP and 2003 support issues. Those products are done, they’ve graduated, but there are some better ones out there…it’s time to move on. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Editor’s Note: Rob picked Syracuse to win the tournament (terrible pick). Luckily he knows a lot more about Microsoft licensing than he does about college hoops.

A backlit keyboard.

Rob O’Shaughnessy

Director of Software Sales & Renewals