Secret (and Not-So-Secret) Ways To Simplify Microsoft Licensing for SMBs

By: Marco
June 26, 2024

Once upon a time, a small business could buy a Microsoft product and use it to its heart’s content. Okay, so that process was never perfect, and you wouldn’t always get every new bell and whistle right away, but you could upgrade when the time was right for you. 

Unfortunately, software piracy was a big, big problem before cloud subscriptions became common. Between 2015 and 2017 alone, the software business lost $46.3 billion to theft and piracy. That’s not the only reason we can’t have nice things, but it’s right up there. Delivering software in the cloud can curb piracy while solving those incompatibility issues that used to impede collaboration. But that all comes at a price, along with a new level of complexity that’s especially hard for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

Microsoft and Other Software Licensing Challenges for Small Businesses
Person working on budget

Some software providers allow businesses to pay monthly, which can be helpful for small businesses on tight budgets. But month-to-month plans are often more far expensive than making one larger annual commitment. And many software companies — including Microsoft — don’t always offer the option. Some Microsoft licenses will require multi-year commitments. And if your business has multiple Microsoft subscriptions, all with different contract requirements, it can make tracking them a nightmare.

Perpetual licenses still sometimes exist, but because software developers still need to protect themselves against piracy, authentication can get messy. Some developers might only require that you validate your license once on each device, but others will demand more complicated methods and demand them more often. 

And we all know just how much everyone loves that. 

The Benefits of SaaS Solutions

Okay, so managing subscriptions isn’t perfect. But let’s not forget that the old way of buying software wasn’t either. Subscriptions have a lot going for them: 

  • Lower upfront costs
  • Instant access to the latest and greatest features
  • The ability to scale your subscriptions up or down
  • Software developers have an added incentive to cultivate a stronger long-term relationship and provide more value over time

Businesses also have multiple options to help them overcome the pain points associated with license management. 

Software Asset Management for Microsoft Products (and More) in SMBs

Money Going Both Ways

Where you find a pain point for businesses, there you usually will also find a service. That’s also true for software asset management, so SMBs hoping to simplify their software subscriptions do have options. For example, some consulting firms specialize in software asset management (SAM) services, and they will often charge project-based fees. Some large license resellers will also offer licensing support and advisory services for their customers….for an additional fee. 

So, in a nutshell, small businesses can get the clear, user-friendly experience that they need, but they will have to pay even more. And if you’ve been paying attention, paying more is also part of the problem. 

More Cost-effective Microsoft Licensing Strategies for SMBs

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IT providers have also seen the need and will step in to offer licensing support. But here’s where the math gets a little different. Most software developers decrease their costs at scale and offer volume discounts to service providers who sell their products on their behalf. Those providers can, you know, feel free to pass those discounts on to their clients.   

Wait…doesn’t that mean they’re basically undercutting themselves? Okay, yes. But if you’d rather focus on making software than providing support, it’s actually a pretty decent strategy. 

That means IT providers can often offer simplified license management and support for the same price (or sometimes less) than the cost of the software itself. 

Optimizing Microsoft License Usage for Small and Medium Businesses

If you want to do a little digging, you might have other options to consider as well. For example, at Marco, we also have a new service called ACE365 designed to help SMBs secure and optimize their Microsoft environments. 

We also offer free Microsoft assessments to help businesses get the most out of their existing subscriptions. Click the link below to learn more! 

Claim Your Free Microsoft Assessment Learn More


Topics: Business IT Services