Microsoft has announced the next editions of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Skype for Business Server and Project Server will be released in the second half of 2021.

Ordinarily this would be a pretty unremarkable announcement for those well-versed in the world of Microsoft license management. However, the announcement included confirmation that all of the aforementioned products will only be available as subscription licenses. Considering that within a typical business, 80 – 90% of the software used will be from Microsoft, it’s quite big news.
The announcement lacked details, promising to share information around official names, pricing and availability of said products at a later date.

It did, however, go on to share some further benefits of the next version of Exchange Server, such as allowing admin to easily upgrade existing servers running Exchange Server 2019 to the subscription-based codebase “without needing to add servers or move mailboxes”. Microsoft has also increased the number of versions this can be installed alongside, including Exchange Server 2013, 2016 or 2019.

Microsoft Office is also rumored to see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021. Previously, Microsoft have only committed to one more perpetual release of Office outside of Office 365 so while this news is currently unconfirmed, it could be the last version before Apps for Enterprise within Office 365 becomes the only version available.

What do the new Microsoft licensing changes mean for you?

Based on the announcements above, your internal licensing strategy for these products could therefore be challenged with a mandated move to subscription licensing. As a customer who may wish to procure perpetual assets or as part of an organization that prefers CapEx to OpEx, this announcement may require internal conversations about how Microsoft licenses are procured in the future.

It might be that the best strategy for your organization is to make investment in productivity servers before the release, or potentially you may need to consider the best way to migrate from your perpetual licenses onto the best subscription model for your organization.

Why it might be time to consider subscription licensing

A move to subscription licensing could help reduce your organization’s spend by using this opportunity to migrate to Office 365 utilizing the tiered offerings to streamline your internal allocation of licensing.

Whilst your first reaction may be that this sounds like an additional onus on your organization, robust and strong software asset management could help make the transition easy, and in the long term, provide considerable cost savings.

As well as optimizing spend, software asset management tools are an ideal way to protect against financial risk, stay compliant, as well as reduce time away from business as usual.