Microsoft announces end to free software for partners’ internal use next year, news comes just before Inspire

Kareem Anderson

Just days before it hosts its annual partner’s conference, Microsoft has decided it’s going to reign in how those partners are allowed to use Windows 10, Office 365 and other products.

With Microsoft’s immoderate yearly ‘Inspire’ partner conference scheduled for July 14 through July 18 this year, news recently surfaced that may have some partners rethinking their attendance this year as it’s being reported that the company vastly restrict internal use rights for some of its products resellers use.

According to the company’s partner website, Microsoft’s internal use rights (IUR) will soon be restricted for all partners regardless of Action Pack, Silver or Gold competency.

“Effective July 1, 2020, we will retire the internal use rights (IUR) association with the product licenses partners to receive in the Microsoft Action Pack and included with a competency. Product license use rights will be updated to be used for business development scenarios such as demonstration purposes, solution/services development purposes, and internal training.

Beginning October 1, 2019, the product licenses included with competencies will be specific to the competency you attain. Please review the benefits you will receive with your competency in Partner Center at time of purchase. Additional licenses can be purchased through commercial licensing to run your business.”

While on the face of it, it would seem Microsoft is being unnecessarily frugal with its software, the move to restrict the license for partners seems rooted in an attempt to limit the amount ‘free’ software fully powering businesses.

It would seem the internal number crunchers deep within Microsoft have come to the conclusion that the company is leaving money on the table as partners make ‘full-use’ of Windows, Office, and other software for their personal benefit, in addition to creating demos, developing educational processes and selling benefits for the products.

Whether or not this will be a good move, remains to be seen. Microsoft is upending a relationship that its partners have long grown cozy with that allows them to make use of Windows and Office for internal purposes while also exploring the full recesses of the software to aid in their sales pitches.

While dogfooding has become a method to help spur development and engagement for products, Microsoft seems confident in relying on an honest hard earned purchased review may be worth it at the end, where partners can put an actual dollar amount behind the advantages or shortcomings of the company’s software.

It should also be noted that Microsoft is also putting an end to partners ability to make use of on-premises support calling as next month while defining the total number of licenses partners can use.

For example, if the maximum license grant is 500 licenses for a certain product, and a partner has earned a total of 300 licenses in country X and 400 licenses in country Y for that product, the partner cannot use all 700 licenses earned within a single country. A maximum of 500 licenses can be used in country X or country Y. Hence, the partner could choose to assign 500 licenses to country X and 200 licenses to country Y. This same principle applies to the worldwide maximum license grant per partner organization.

Microsoft’s license reorg is sure to sour some partners but a company that prides itself in analytics and telemetry should have the numbers to back up whatever comes next, hopefully.