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TRUE or FALSE: The truth about Microsoft CSP 2024

There is quite a bit of biased, outdated advice and "partial truth" about the Microsoft Cloud Solution Partner Program.

The reasons are multiple. In many cases, the info is manipulated to make CSP more attractive, mainly by those who sell CSP licenses. Sometimes it's simply outdated. Microsoft CSP Program is relatively new despite being launched many years ago, and occasional, sometimes significant, changes are natural.

Let's cut through the noise. What is TRUE, FALSE, or "partially true"?

Flexible number of users or devices

TRUE, but.

Indeed, Microsoft CSP has no entry barrier compared to agreements like Microsoft EA or MPSA. Plus, there is no company-wide commitment like in the Enterprise Agreement or Open Value.

But if someone pitches you CSP as a program allowing you to adjust the number of licenses monthly up and down, they aren't telling you the whole truth.

There are three CSP license subscription terms: month, year, and three years. The only genuinely flexible subscription term is one month, but it's only available for online services like Microsoft 365 and Azure. Server licences don't have a monthly option, and they are 20% more expensive than one-year licenses.

Microsoft CSP used to be more flexible through a loophole.

Before 2022 and the "New Commerce Experience," Microsoft did not enforce one-year subscriptions and allowed them to be cancelled anytime. Annual subscriptions have a monthly billing option. Since there was no cancellation penalty, the whole CSP ecosystem exploited it to emulate true flexibility, avoiding the 20% monthly subscription premium.

It's not possible anymore. You only have seven days to readjust the quantity or cancel the subscription. After that, you are stuck with your annual licences. And even if you pay for them monthly, you cannot reduce that number until the end of the subscription year.

Ability to add/remove users anytime as needed

PARTIALLY TRUE borderline with FALSE. See above.

Only pay for what you use

PARTIALLY TRUE borderline with FALSE. See above.

Monthly billing option

TRUE. It is available for monthly and annual subscriptions.

No true-up billing

TRUE, but so what? Why is it pitched as a benefit compared to other agreements?

True-up facility is an excellent benefit of the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, allowing you to delay payment for the increased number of licenses until the agreement's anniversary.

Having no true-up is not a benefit. Ignore it.

No contract term – pay as you go versus a fixed term

TRUE, but there are still fixed subscription terms to choose from one month, one year, and three years. Server licences don't have the monthly option. And the latter is 20% more expensive.

So, it's not as flexible as, for example, renting licensed solutions from a service provider on a Microsoft SPLA agreement.

So, Microsoft CSP is flexible but not as flexible as often pitched.

Microsoft CSP includes support

TRUE. CSP partners are required to provide support directly or via their reseller.

It is a benefit of CSP. For example, there is no such facility in a Microsoft EA. You would need to sign a Unified Support agreement for an additional fee.

So, is CSP good for you?

It probably is. It is undoubtedly a positive development in Microsoft licensing.

The point I am trying to make with this article is that you must be vigilant about what you read online and hear in sales pitches. Sometimes, the information is biased. Most of the time, it's outdated – hundreds of articles were published years ago, and Microsoft CSP has changed since.

Read these guides that we update on a regular basis, and as we don't sell licenses, these are not influenced by sales targets:

We'll help you make the right choice. Simply message us using the form below or book a call, and let's discuss your goals and challenges.