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Microsoft to raise license price, add software rights

Microsoft adds security software and Lync to Core CAL.

By , Network World
March 30, 2011 11:42 AM ET

Network World - Microsoft is boosting the price of a license that provides client access to Windows Server, SharePoint, Exchange and Systems Center, but is sweetening the deal by giving buyers access to a new endpoint security product and the new Lync unified communications software.

Microsoft is also expected to lower the price of an enterprise license that includes more robust access to key Microsoft software.

The annual price of the Core CAL (client access license) is expected to rise from $80 to $89, according to information distributed by Microsoft partner Softchoice, although final pricing won't be made official until Aug. 1. The numbers are estimates that "reflect preliminary info from Microsoft."

It should also be noted that the current price of $80 can be higher or lower depending on the number of users a customer has, but in general the price of the Core CAL is expected to go up.

LICENSE HELP: 5 tips for managing Microsoft licensing costs

The Core CAL currently provides access to Windows Server, Systems Center Configuration Manager, and standard access to SharePoint and Exchange. Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 and standard access to Lync will be added to the Core CAL, potentially making it a better deal despite the higher price. Forefront Endpoint Protection by itself would cost $10.20 annually per user, or per device.

Microsoft would not confirm the final pricing, but said customers who have the Core CAL and have purchased Software Assurance can lock in today's price and receive the new pieces of software.

"Active Software Assurance customers with Core CAL receive these new rights," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "The changes are effective Aug. 1 - so now is a good time for customers to renew Core CAL and get these extra components (FEP and Lync Standard CAL) at today's pricing."

Client access licenses are separate from server licenses. They allow individual end users to connect devices such as PCs to Microsoft's server products.

In addition to the Core CAL, Microsoft also offers the Enterprise CAL. According to the Microsoft partner information, the Enterprise CAL cost will drop from $94 to $86. That means customers who buy both the core and enterprise licenses will end up paying about the same price as before. Again, these are estimated prices and the final numbers won't be known until August.

The enterprise CAL includes Active Directory Rights Management Services; the enterprise versions of SharePoint, Exchange and Lync; System Center Client Management Suite; Forefront Unified Access Gateway, and the Forefront Protection Suite, which includes several products in addition to Forefront Endpoint Protection.

Customers should carefully examine the pros and cons of Microsoft's licenses. They may not necessarily benefit from the additions to the Core CAL.

"I don't have a single customer who will benefit from this," says Cynthia Farren, who runs the Cynthia Farren Consulting firm and writes a blog on Microsoft licensing for Network World. "The functionality of Lync Server Standard CAL is pretty limited, so basically unless you're just using it for PC-to-PC IM it's not going to be of much use, as you probably already needed the Enterprise CAL. Forefront Endpoint Protection requires System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to manage it - that's fine as it's part of the Core CAL but a good number of my clients have elected to not invest in the manpower needed to implement and run SCCM, so Forefront Endpoint Protection adds no value to them."

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