Microsoft Dynamics ERP SPLA customers punished by lack of Office license mobility, hosting partners say

Microsoft's Services Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) gives Dynamics ERP customers with hosted solutions the option to pay for their Microsoft licenses on a monthly basis, adding flexibility and saving them money up front over purchasing perpetual licenses.

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

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Office Licensing Rules

Interestingly, Microsoft's licensing rules actually permit customers to access Office on a remote server if they are licensed for the same (or a later) version of Office.
A longstanding licensing rule for Office (found in Microsoft Product Use Rights), says:
--Remote use of the software running on the Licensed Device is permitted for the primary user of that device from any device or for any other user from another Licensed Device.
--Remote use of the software running on a network Server is permitted for any user from a Licensed Device.

The first rule says that if you have a licensed device (in this case licensed for Office), you can access Office on that device from any other device. In this case we're talking about accessing one physical device from another physical device (e.g., GoToMyPC)
The second rule says that if Office is running on a network server, it doesnt' require a license there, but any device that accesses it must have a comparable Office license. If it does, there's no charge for Office running on the network.

It's more complicated than that, such as the fact that these rules operate in the context of a customer's environment. But I still think that application of these rules to the SPLA would mean that if your local devices are licensed for the right version of Office you can access that version of Office running remotely.
I actually pointed this out to someone on Microsoft's SPLA team a few years ago, suggesting that they are double-dipping. Her response: Yes, we are double-dipping.

Office & SPLA

So it's interesting indeed. We know that Microsoft (MSFT) not long ago extended rights for volume licensing customers who have RDS CALs w/SA and wish to access RDS workloads on shared hosting services including multi-tenant clouds like Azure and AWS.

But with that - have they not extended the same rights to Office whether it be licensed via traditional volume licensing or via Office 365 ProPlus so that you could use your existing licensing to access Office on RDS in these shared hosting or multi-tenant cloud scenarios?

I read the article and I agree with it - in that this was also my understanding and MSFT also has the same restrictive language about Win 7/8 virtual desktops on shared Server hardware and therefore that's why we don't see multi-tenant cloud providers offering it. But I would've thought that with the relaxed RDS CAL rules (extended rights via SA) that they would've also relaxed the rules for Office.

So using Office on RDS on Azure would then require the use of either RDS CAL w/SA thru volume licensing or RDS SALs via SPLA provider -PLUS- Office SAL via SPLA provider. Is that how everyone understands it as of today (Nov 2014)?