Microsoft step-up license; what is it and when do I bring it into an organization

Microsoft Step-Up license is offered by Microsoft for clients with Software Assurance. Step up license allows users to upgrade from a lower software licenses edition to higher editions with advanced features. This option is available for various Microsoft products.    

To upgrade to a higher edition of a product, you must possess a lower edition license and have active Software Assurance. 

How does a step-up license work in the case of perpetual, subscription, or online service    

Upon obtaining a Step-up license, which is the higher edition license, it replaces the lower edition license or SL. The qualifying license combined with the Step-up License grants access to the higher edition. For perpetual licenses, the Step-up license provides a perpetual upgrade to the higher edition once fully paid at the end of the agreement.   

Upon renewal, Software Assurance can be extended for the higher edition. An edition is used to describe the major product release whiles a version is the other releases of the same product but with new features.   

Step-up licenses are valid only within the same licensing program where the original license or Online Service was acquired.     

Step-Up license and Software Assurance customers    

Software Assurance customers can upgrade from a lower edition to a higher edition of their software, provided they maintain Software Assurance coverage. To acquire a Step-Up license for a higher edition, both a lower edition license and active Software Assurance are necessary. Step-Up licenses are available through Open Value, MPSA (Microsoft Products and Services Agreement) and Enterprise Agreement.    

How to obtain a Step-Up license for a Microsoft online service    

Microsoft Online Services can be upgraded from a lower edition subscription license (SL) to a higher edition SL, eliminating the need to pay for both the full higher edition SL and the existing lower edition SL. To acquire a step-up license for an advanced version of an Online Service, a corresponding lower version component SL or suite license is necessary. Step-up licenses for Online Services are available through MPSA, Enterprise Agreement, or Enrollment for Education. 

When to bring in Microsoft Step-Up licenses as an organization?    

  • Scalability and growth    

As an organization expanding and evolving, you may find that your current Microsoft licensing is no longer sufficient for your needs. This can happen if you start using new software or services, expand your team, or have more complex technology requirements. In these cases, bringing in Microsoft Step-Up can allow you to access the additional features and capabilities you need. Also deciding to adopt and use robust products and services will require higher-tier licenses hence considering the option of using Microsoft Step-Up licenses.    

  • Digital transformation    

When your organization is undergoing a digital transformation.ie. moving to the cloud, implementing new collaboration tools, or adopting data-driven processes, this may attract Microsoft Step-Up licenses. As part of this process, you may find that your current Microsoft licensing is no longer sufficient for your needs. Bringing in Microsoft Step-Up license can help ensure that you have the right tools and resources to support your digital transformation efforts.    

  • Software Standardization     

There may be a specific need for advanced features in the case of a specific project or initiative within your organization. These advanced Microsoft features may not be included in your current licensing. In these instances, bringing in Microsoft Step-Up can provide temporary access to the necessary features and capabilities for the duration of the project.    

By standardizing one version or edition of Microsoft software, your organization can ensure consistency and compatibility across your systems. This can help avoid any potential issues that may arise from using different versions or editions of the same software. Additionally, it allows for easier management and deployment of updates and patches.    

Also, software standardization can lead to increased productivity and efficiency. By using the same version or edition of Microsoft software, your employees can become more familiar and comfortable with the tools and features available. This can lead to faster adoption and usage of the software, ultimately improving overall productivity.    

  • Budget constraints     

While Microsoft Step-Up does come at an additional cost, it may be a more cost-effective option than purchasing new licenses for specific features or services. If your organization is facing budget constraints but still needs access to additional Microsoft capabilities, Step-Up licenses may be a viable solution.    

  • Staying ahead of the competition    

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, staying ahead of the competition often means having access to the latest and most advanced technology. By bringing in Microsoft Step-Up licenses, you can ensure that your organization has access to cutting-edge features and capabilities that can give you a competitive advantage.    

  • Optimizing your Microsoft investment    

By utilizing Microsoft Step-Up license, you can better optimize your existing investments in Microsoft products and services. Instead of purchasing completely new licenses, Step-Up licenses allow you to add on advanced features and capabilities as needed, making the most out of your initial investments.    

  • When you need a flexible solution    

One of the key benefits of Microsoft Step-Up license is its flexibility. It allows organizations to easily upgrade their licenses on a per-user basis, rather than having to commit to a large number of licenses all at once. This makes it an ideal solution for organizations with fluctuating user needs or those looking for a more customizable approach to licensing.    

  • Cost management    

When your organization is looking at using enhanced licenses but a little cost, Step-up licenses can be considered. Cost management, when done properly prior to the purchasing of a step-up license can lead to judicious spending of money.    

This is also another way to help your organization accurately evaluate your software needs. Before purchasing a step-up license, it’s important to assess whether the additional features and capabilities of the higher edition are truly needed for the continuous operation of your organization. This can help avoid unnecessary expenses and ensure that the step-up license is worth the investment.    

Cost management can also play a role in negotiating pricing for step-up licenses. By carefully researching and comparing pricing options, an organization can potentially negotiate better deals with their software vendor (Microsoft). This in the long-term results in significant cost savings for the organization.    

Talk to an independent Microsoft licensing expert about your step-up license    

Our team of independent Microsoft licensing experts can make available to your organization our extensive knowledge and experience in navigating the complex world of Microsoft licenses. We will support you with our understanding of different agreements to help your organization make informed decisions about which licenses are best suited for your needs.    

We will guide you with proper knowledge and expertise to avoid spending more on your licenses purchase than necessary. Our independent licensing expert can help identify cost-saving opportunities and negotiate better deals with Microsoft on behalf of your organization.    

Understanding your unique needs and requirements of software licenses, we can do an analysis of your organization’s entire IT estate and recommend a customized solution that best fits your budget and usage patterns.    

Purchasing step-up licenses is not just a short-term solution. It also requires careful consideration of long-term needs and planning for future growth. Our independent licensing expert can assist you in creating a comprehensive plan that considers your current and potential future needs, ensuring that you make the most cost-effective and strategic decisions.  

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