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Licensing Model Changes for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, Part 3: Limited User License vs. Light User License

by Vjekoslav Babic
NAV Consultant, Microsoft Services, Microsoft
January 15 2013

Last fall we discussed the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 perpetual licensing model from two perspectives: an overview of the model and an analysis of Microsoft's possible strategy with the new model. Let's take a look at the final aspect of the new model, the limited user license, which changes the licensing landscape significantly, opening a range of new scenarios not possible earlier.  The changes also create the possibility for dangerous risk for companies in the Dynamics NAV partner channel, as well as existing customers.

Microsoft Discontinued the Light User License

The Light User license type has been present in NAV for a long time, under various names, such as Web User, Desktop Client for Office. This type of license allowed users not using any of the NAV clients provided by Microsoft, which were the Classic client and the RoleTailored client, to access NAV without functional limitations. This type of license allowed partners to develop ISV solutions, or to deploy customer-specific role-tailored customizations which accessed NAV through Web services. One of primary goals was to provide a better match between required functionality and the price tag.

With the perpetual licensing model, Microsoft discontinued the Light User license type, and there is no replacement that precisely fits the usage scenarios of the old licensing model.  Microsoft has instead introduced a new license type: the Limited User license. However, this license type does not fully match the Light User license. It is truly a new license type.

The Limited User License

In earlier versions, the term limited user was used as a common descriptor to a family of license types that ...

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About Vjekoslav Babic

Vjekoslav Babić is an independent Microsoft Dynamics NAV consultant, trainer, author and blogger, with 10 years of experience in NAV and 16 years of experience in IT.

As a solutions architect and a project manager with a leading Microsoft Dynamics President's Club service provider company, as a Microsoft Dynamics NAV consultant with Microsoft Services, and as an independent consultant, he has been working on Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementations ranging from tiny one-man-bands to international mega-corporations, delivering services and trainings all over the world.

In 2008, Vjekoslav co-authored the acclaimed book "Implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009". Vjekoslav runs an active blog about NAV implementation, project management and development best practices, acts as a columnist and editorial advisory board member at, and as a columnist in a number of other web or printed periodicals in Croatia and worldwide. Vjekoslav is also a frequent speaker at Microsoft or Microsoft Dynamics conferences.

Since spring 2010, Vjekoslav has been awarded the prestigious Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Submitted by Mearnsman on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 04:19 Permalink

I understood that you had to have bought your 'light' licences before October 12th 2012 in order to benefit from the 'free' upgrade in NAV2103. I would be suspicious of the suggestion that you can carry on buying light licences and then transform these into full NAV2013 licences when you upgrade just because your original licence pre-dates October 12th 2012.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by Burjis Cursetji on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 04:24 Permalink

Dear Babic, Thats a nice written article about the differences between light and limited. However, for the benefit of you and our other readers, I would like to point out one mistake: Quote Any customer, who first bought their Business Ready license for NAV before October 12, 2012, gets one Full User license for each Light User license they acquired. .... Not only is the upgrade path generous towards existing customers, but it also allows for some level of manipulation. A customer who licensed NAV before October 12 can still purchase Light User licenses that can be upgraded to Full User licenses in the Perpetual model when the customer decides to upgrade to NAV 2013. Unquote The above statements are not true. All customers who purchased Light Users before July 2012 (not October 2012) will be transitioned to full users. Microsoft changed the SKU of Light Users to "Limited Light Users" from July 2012. This means that customers can only purchase "Limited Light users" on 2009 after July 2012. The transition path for Limited Light Users is - 3 Limited Light Users (2009) -> 1 Limited User (2013). Hence customers cannot manipulate. Regards, Burjis

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by heles11 on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 04:38 Permalink

We are finding major problems trying to confirm whether a prospect can use the Limited user option. The senarios are suggesting that if the user is just doing one process then they can be Limited, this suggests if you have a Sales Clerk that is just entering Sales Orders that they can be Limited. However the SO has two tables, if they use Assemble to Order thats another table, if there are approval templates set up then thats another table. It wouldnt be so bad if you could set up a Limited User and test the required access but in 2013 currently the structure isn't set up and the Limited User option is not restricted to 3 tables yet. This means we can't confidently sell Limited Users. I appreciate that there is an upgrade path but we don't want to mislead prospects/customers.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by TallMikey on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 12:07 Permalink

As somewhat of a follow up to heles11, where specifically can a limited user be deployed? I understand read-only, though what kind of role can use the limited user license? I ask Microsoft and they just send me random links to Partnersource documents. haha

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by vbabic on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 18:30 Permalink

Thanks to all for the comments. The ERP Perpetual Licensing Guide states clearly that the break date is October 1 - the date of October 12 in the original blog is indeed a typo. I am unaware of the date of July 2012, as I can't verify it in the ERP Perpetual Licensing Guide which simply doesn't mention this date. However, I've checked and noticed that FAQ on PartnerSource indeed mentions the July 11, 2012 as the final date for eligibility to upgrade to Full User. Therefore - there is mismatch in Microsoft's official communication and documentation. The Licensing Guide say one, the FAQ say another thing.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by vbabic on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 19:45 Permalink

Heles11 - the licensing guide is very specific about what you can, and what you cannot do with the limited user. It's three tables, plus any of the tables listed in the appendix. In my opinion, it would be extremely difficult for customers to configure the sales order entry as a process that they can apply the Limited User license to. In most situations, you simply end up having more than three tables affected. By the way - the Sales Order entry process is one of those processes that triggered Microsoft to shift away from Light User to limited user, because it was felt that allowing Light Users to enter sales orders was not a good solution. Also - there is a difference between what you are licensed to do, and what NAV tracks that you are doing. Even though it could be possible to "cheat" NAV into thinking that full users actually are limited users, it's not recommended - because even if you manage to cheat NAV into believing you are using limited users, you are still mislicensed. Therefore, to be on the safe side - don't sell the limited user license as long as your process ends up writing into more than three tables (except those tables listed in the appendix to the licensing guide).

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by heles11 on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 06:34 Permalink

I agree with you there is a difference between what the licences states and what NAV actually tracks at the moment and this will change in later updates. It just means the Limited user is so very Limited that it is almost not worth having and it isn't customer friendly as stating 3 tables means nothing to them. The recent Limited User Fact Sheet, written in Dec 2012 by Microsoft states a typical Salesman can Send a Sales Quote, Set up a new customer, create a Sales Order and run Sales Reports as a Limited User. This is very misleading and will lead to prospects and customers being given the wrong impression. There is alot of prep work to do to find out how the business needs to use NAV before we can advise if they can have any Limited users. Therefore Limited Users are not the promised sales tool to encourage companies to look at NAV. If anything it can make the Sales process harder when you have to disappoint them when they can't make use of Limited Users. Plus we can't test the 3 table restriction to prove whether a particular role can be Limited or not. When they change NAV to actually have the restriction later I think there will be problems.