Microsoft makes changes to Select Plus – Improves Discount and Software Assurance Rules

This is a 2 Part Series:    The Select Plus volume licensing program received two updates that preserve discount levels and ease license tracking and management.

Two changes to Select Plus will benefit customers by helping to preserve discount levels and making license and Software Assurance purchases easier to manage

Part 1,  By John Cullen

The Select Plus volume licensing program has improved incrementally with two updates effective in Mar. 2011. One enables more companies to carry over earned discounts from year to year, and another provides more favorable terms for purchases of licenses with Software Assurance (SA) coverage, which offers version upgrade rights and other benefits. The updates make Select Plus more similar to the Select “classic” program that it replaces, and they will offer most customers better discounts that are less sensitive to purchase timing and that provide easier SA tracking and management.

What Is Select Plus?

Under the Select Plus program, customers license products at discount pricing based on the number and type of licenses purchased. License purchases yield points that determine price levels for each of three product pools: systems (mainly Windows), applications (Office and similar PC products), and servers. Of the four discount levels, A through D, level D offers the greatest discount.

Select Plus is aimed at midsize and large organizations with 250 or more PCs that want transactional, pay-as-you-go license purchasing. Select Plus offers the widest spectrum of business software of Microsoft’s volume licensing programs. Furthermore, the purchase of SA is not required with Select Plus license purchases, compared to other programs such as the Enterprise Agreement. (SA is Microsoft’s subscription-based software maintenance plan that provides version upgrades and other subscription services.)

Rollover Points for Discount Levels

The Select Plus rules for accumulating points from purchases have changed to enable customers to roll over points from year to year, which will lead to more favorable discounts and make customers less dependent on purchase timing.

At each Select Plus agreement anniversary, a compliance check is done by Microsoft to determine whether the annual points earned for each product pool still qualify the customer for their current price discount level. If the points are not sufficient, the discount level is adjusted downward by a maximum of one level (for instance, from Level B to Level A pricing).

Until now, points have not been carried over to the following year. Each customer’s agreement year began with zero points earned. For example, a Select Plus Level A customer who earned 600 points in year one (100 points more than the minimum threshold for Level A) would stay at Level A for year two and would need to earn another 500 points in year two to maintain Level A for year three. The excess 100 points earned in year one do not carry over to year two and are not applied against the 500-point minimum requirement for Level A pricing in that year.

Under the policy introduced in Mar. 2011, after an annual compliance check, points in excess of the minimum threshold for a specific price level (for example, Level A requires 500 annual points) are considered “rollover” points. These are carried over to the next agreement year. At each anniversary, the compliance check will account for any rollover points to determine whether the minimum threshold for the current price level of each product pool has been met. The Select Plus Level A customer cited above would need to earn only 400 points in the second year to maintain that price level, not 500, because the customer would benefit from 100 rollover points earned in the first year.

Unlike frequent flyer points, rollover points cannot be used whenever the customer chooses. Rollover points are always applied to the following year. Rollover points do not expire: If a customer does not select a year to use them, the points can carry over for a number of years. They will assist customers in retaining their current discount levels, thereby saving them money on license costs. This will also make discounts less sensitive to purchase timing. A customer who has already met a given discount level for the year will have no incentive to postpone additional purchases until the following year to help maintain the discount level for that year.

  Part 2 will be out early next week.

About the Author: John Cullen is a Research VP at Directions on Microsoft, an independent publisher of information about Microsoft technologies, product roadmaps and licensing rules and programs. For more information, visit www.DirectionsOnMicrosoft.com

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