How Can Microsoft Open Licence Program Help Your Business?
Volume licensing is the most flexible and cost-effective software acquisition method for companies. That’s why the industry's biggest names provide a variety of volume programs to meet the needs of various organisation types. And the main hero of this piece, the Open Licence Program (OLP), is presumably the most popular Microsoft program for small businesses.
Volume licensing was long thought to be only an option for large corporations due to higher upfront costs and a more complicated purchase process. However, through Certified Pre-Owned licences, smaller enterprises in the EEC, EEA, and EU can benefit from the functionality and ease of deployment that volume licensing provides at a lower acquisition cost.
What You Need to Know About Microsoft Open Licence Program
The type of organisation (commercial, educational, or governmental), the size and industry of the company, the number of devices/users, and the location all influence the choice of a particular Microsoft volume licensing program. Typically, a volume agreement requires a minimum of five licences.
To learn more about volume licensing basics and the most popular volume licence programs, read Volume Licensing: Your Key To Business Optimisation.
As we’ve mentioned, Open Licence Program caters for the needs of small businesses (up to 250 devices or users). It is an affordable way to get Microsoft perpetual volume licences. The main features and benefits of OLP compared to other corporate licensing options include
- Lifetime licence: Buy once, use forever
- No contracts or other commitments
- Easy to manage
- ONE key for all product licences, i.e. easier deployment through Multi Activation Keys or Key Management Services
- Downgrade rights ensuring version cross-compatibility
Although OLP has been unavailable for new commercial customers since January 2022, the already purchased licences remain valid, plus businesses can still get OLP licences as certified pre-owned software (CPO). The advantages of CPO software are a lot. To learn more about them, check our CPO website section.
Now, let’s go over the main OLP benefits.
The Advantage of Improved Licence Management
Buying volume licences simplifies management and reduces the per-unit cost. One of the cherished advantages of volume programs is the efficient central licence management via dedicated service centers and the more straightforward management of software assets.
The Open Licence Program is no exception: it is simple to administer and use. You get only one product key to handle the software installation and activation on multiple PCs within your company. That means your IT department will manage only one key for all machines or users.
Make Mass Deployment Easy
Another advantage of volume licences, in general, is the easy and time-saving deployment. There are several ways of deploying volume licences.
One approach is configuring a setup that automatically downloads, installs, and activates the software on each computer, saving the IT department significant time. Another option is to import all of the division's emails and automatically send setup emails to employee lists.
MAK vs KMS. What’s the difference?
The volume activation methods used by Microsoft are MAK (Multiple Activation Key) and KMS (Key Management Services).
Usually, customers with fewer devices (small and medium-sized companies) prefer the MAK model. In this case, you will receive a single key valid for all devices in the organisation. The MAK method is a one-time, non-expiring activation via Microsoft's host services. Once the process is over, there is no need for further communication with the vendor. Each MAK has a predetermined number of allowed activations based on your purchase.
The main disadvantage of the MAK method is when some of your computers need re-installation, you clean the hard disk, etc. In such cases, the initial activation is not valid anymore, and the number of predetermined activations doesn’t restore.
That means the MAK method is more appropriate in companies where the hardware remains unchanged for long periods and reinstallation is rare.
But what about larger companies and organisations with devices that can’t or shouldn’t connect to the internet outside the premises? That is where Key Management Services come into use.
KMS uses a client-server model. For activation, the KMS clients connect through the local network to a KMS server called the KMS host. In that way, the devices activate internally against a company server. The KMS host is activated through a host key and has to report to the vendor licence server every 180 days. All KMS clients activated by the KMS host depend on the activated host key.
The primary distinction with MAK is that you can use the KMS keys to reactivate the same or a different computer. Organisations can create and manage multiple accounts through a KMS.
But how to make the right choice? MAK is the more flexible option for organisations with a decentralised IT structure and fewer devices (both desktops and laptops) that are rarely reinstalled and stay longer disconnected from the corporate network. If this applies to you, go for MAK.
Although more expensive, KMS is the better option for companies with very centralised IT setups and more devices (mainly desktops) that don’t leave the company premises and have a connection to the internal company network. So, if this is the case in your organisation, KMS is for you.
Deployment on Servers with RDS Users
Another approach for deploying volume licences is via Remote Desktop Services (RDS).
Users can access desktop applications using RDS and work from anywhere, connecting to a Remote Desktop Session Host server (previously known as a terminal server). The server then runs applications on the remote machine and displays the session’s content.
Deployment on terminal servers has several advantages:
- It allows businesses to centrally host applications.
- It gives end users access from any location or device.
- It provides maintenance and management from a single point, making them less complicated.
- It omits the need to install or update apps on each machine in the network. You have to do it only on the server.
But what about RDS licensing?
You’ll need Windows Server CAL for the RDS host and an RDS client access licence (CAL) for each user or device outside the local company network with access to the server. Without valid RDS CALs, the end users cannot log on. On-premises users can use regular CALs via Active Directory (which is cheaper and easier to set up). Up to two users may connect to the server at the same time to perform administrative tasks without the need for CALs.
The RDS CALs are of two types:
- Per device (assigned to the machine physically)
- Per user (given to users in Active Directory)
Note that if a desktop application licence is per device, you must obtain licences for each desktop where the product is used or accessed. The use of apps in an RDS environment requires that the edition and version should match between the machines. The good news is that regarding Office suites in RDS, you don’t need a licence for the copy installed on the server.
After the first 120 days, you’ll also need a Remote Desktop Services license server to issue and track CALs. The license server is activated via the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
Why Choose Certified Pre-Owned OLP Volume Licensing
When you run a business, your top IT priority should be to find the most cost-effective, customisable and scalable software licensing solution. That’s when volume licensing comes to the rescue. And certified pre-owned software licences expand your options even further.
With CPO software, you get the legal opportunity for EEC, EEA, and EU countries to buy software products that manufacturers no longer sell. Furthermore, you usually get it on better terms and with more thorough ownership documentation than other volume licensing products.
Volume licences provide much greater flexibility than Retail or OEM licence types. Among the most significant user benefits are better budgeting and planning, options for downgrade for compatibility reasons, cost-effectiveness, and simplified management.
In other words, volume licensing enables you to enhance business operations while spending more reasonably on software. If you want to maximise the return on your IT investments, don’t hesitate. Get the value your business deserves.
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