Microsoft backtracks on plans to scrap free software licenses for partners

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When Microsoft announced that it was going to start charging its partners for software licenses that had previously been free, there was an understandable backlash.

Now the company has announced that it is putting these plans on hold, and free software licenses will still be available to Microsoft Partners. On the eve of its Inspire conference, Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster revealed that the decision to revoke internal use rights (IURs) has now been reversed.


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Microsoft had planned to scrap IURs which have been enjoyed by many of its partners for some time. Through the scheme, partners paying a low-cost subscription -- such as the $475 Microsoft Action Pack -- were able to used numerous software licences (five for Office 365, ten for Windows Server 2019 Essentials, and three for Visual Studio Pro, to name but three), and Microsoft was seemingly getting a little disgruntled with the fact that partners were using these licenses to run their businesses.

Faced with the prospect of hefty charges, those that would have been affected by the changes responded angrily and vocally. Microsoft has responded by backing down.

In a post on the Microsoft Partner blog, Schuster -- Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner -- says:

Over the last several days, we've heard from many of you about changes we were planning to make regarding benefits included with gold and silver competencies, and those in the Microsoft Action Pack. These included benefits related to internal use rights, or IUR -- specifically the terms governing the use of product licenses to run partner businesses.

I want to thank you for sharing your feedback with us and would like to provide an update on partner benefits.

Your partnership and trust matters to us. Given your feedback, we have made the decision to roll back all planned changes related to internal use rights and competency timelines that were announced earlier this month. This means you will experience no material changes this coming fiscal year, and you will not be subject to reduced IUR licenses or increased costs related to those licenses next July as previously announced.

We listened to you, and we have acted.

Each year we review how we engage with partners and evolve our approach to ensure we provide best-in-class support to you and stay ahead of market changes. As we move forward, we commit to providing even more advance notice and consultation with our partner community to mitigate concerns and address issues up front. We will continue to invest in our partner program to ensure we create opportunities for all our partners.

Our decision to rescind these changes required a thorough review, and a key determining factor was the connection and trust we have with you, our partners -- a valuable asset we do not take for granted. Together, we can continue to be a catalyst for digital transformation industry wide.

We appreciate your feedback, apologize for the confusion this caused some members of our partner community, and look forward to growing our partnership with you in the months and years to come.

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