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SoftwareMedia Blog | February 8, 2016

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In Depth Look: Microsoft User CAL Price Changes

In Depth Look: Microsoft User CAL Price Changes
Kyle Fordrung

As many of you know, Microsoft recently announced some big changes to their pricing model for the Open Licensing Program – specifically, that User CAL prices have now increased by 15% as of December 1st, 2012.

To learn more about the differences between User CALs and Device CALs, check out our handy Microsoft Open License Buying Guide

For many products purchased through the Open License Program, Microsoft offers a per-user and per-device option when purchasing Client Access Licenses (CALs). In the past, the price has been the same for both options, but that is no longer the case. From now on, Microsoft will differentiate between the price models of these CALs, increasing the cost of User CALs by a whopping 15%.

According to Microsoft, this change comes due to three primary reasons:

  1. Increased value in support acrossdevices.
    The next generation of Microsoft Server products delivers an increased value for user-based licensing. For example, the new Microsoft Office 2013, and the servers that support it, will now work with a greater number of devices, increasing the value of a User CAL (which can be used across multiple devices).
  2. Increased number of devices.
    In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of consumer devices that are increasingly being used as essential business tools. With the introduction of Windows 8, there will be yet another boost in business ready devices that will continue to fuel the trend of device proliferation. The more devices a single person uses, the greater the value of a per-user license.
  3. Manageability and Compliance
    User CAL licensing helps to simplify manageability and compliance. In the past, IT departments had to purchase and asset tag all computers and hardware used by employees. It was a simple matter for IT to catalog and license the number of devices being used by the company. Nowadays, more and more devices (smart phones, tablets, laptops) are being used to access company resources – this makes it easier to count and license employees, rather than devices.

Now that we’ve gotten the why out of the way, let’s dive right into the what.

Microsoft CAL Differentation FAQ:

Q: Why is Microsoft increasing the price of user CALs?
A: Device proliferation has increased the relative value of the user CAL (which supports unlimited devices), and Microsoft is increasing the price by +15% accordingly.

Q: When will the price increase?
A: Pricing for committed products is fixed for the term of the enrollment so customers will not be affected by the differentiated CAL pricing until their next renewal. Select and Open customers will see the higher price for User CALs for affected products December 1, 2012.

Q: Will the use rights vary for user CALs versus device CALS?
A: No, the differentiated pricing is solely based on the additional value derived from the User CAL.

Q: What should I do now that the price of the user CAL is increasing 15%?
A: Customers should evaluate both the user CAL option and device CAL licensing option and select the solution which best fits their needs. Customers who expect the number of devices to grow over the next 2-3 years may choose to invest in the user CAL.

Q: Which CAL is right for my business?
A: For many enterprises where employees far outnumber their devices, there will be no change and these companies will see value as they continue to purchase on a per device basis. For those enterprises where devices already outnumber employees, per user licensing will likely be a valuable option. For customers who are near parity in people and devices, we recommend they consider how device trends may affect this balance going forward, and then do a comparison between the two licensing options.

Q:  What resources are available to help me select the solution that is right for my business?
A:  SoftwareMedia has compiled a Microsoft Open License Buying Guide to customers choose the best licensing options for their needs. If you need additional assistance, please call our Microsoft Certified Experts at 1-800-474-1045 (ext. 3).

Q:  I currently license CALs per user and I would like to switch.  How do I do this?
A:  Customers with active software assurance can switch between user CALs and device CALs at their contract renewal date.  Customers should work with their account team to make the change.

Q:  I currently license CALs per device and I would like to move to per user.  The per user CAL is more expensive.  Do I need to pay the difference or “step-up” to the new license?
A:  There is no need to “step-up” from device CAL to user CAL.  Customers can begin paying the new SA price for the per user CAL.

Q:  Now that user CALs are worth more than device CALs, when I switch from user CALs to device CALS is there a ratio that is applied when transitioning?
A:  There is a 1:1 ratio when transitioning from device CAL to User CAL or vice versa.

Q:  I am interested in transitioning from per user CAL to per device CAL.  Do I choose which devices to cover as part of my Enterprise Agreement?
A:  Every qualified device must be licensed when moving from per user CAL to per device CAL.

Q: How many devices can I cover with the user CAL?
A: The user CAL covers unlimited devices. Each user CAL must be assigned by named user. is a Microsoft Certified Partnerand we are happy to offer customers great discounts on all Microsoft Open License products.


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