There is very little information written on the Microsoft SPLA program, leaving service providers vulnerable to compliance risk and increased costs. Service providers want to focus on developing solutions, as opposed to focusing on licensing. There is a gap in the way technology can be deployed, to the reality in which the technology has to be licensed.

The objective of this blog is to help educate; to be a resource for service providers. There is the licensing aspect of what you can and cannot do as it pertains to compliance, but more importantly I will provide technology guidance and best practices. I have managed the Microsoft SPLA program for seven years, I have not only the experience, but the skill set to help navigate the treacherous waters called Microsoft licensing.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope this site was useful. You can also follow me on twitter @SPLA_Man or LinkedIn for latest updates. My email is

As with all blogs, I must disclose that the articles written on this site are opinion based.  For complete licensing guidance always refer back to the SPUR. All content on this website created by the author is subject to copyright with all rights reserved.




46 responses to “About

  1. Tim Carter

    March 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful, clear, concise resource! I have been enrolled in the SPLA program from day 1 (actually offered hosted apps before SPLA) and it has always been confusing. In your first few posts you have already answered several questions I had with the new licensing model, and you had great insite (how to compete with O365). I will be back often.


    • splaman

      March 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Tim, thank you for the kind words. I am glad I was able to answer your questions. Stay tuned for more posts as it pertains to the SPLA program!

  2. Tim Carter

    April 9, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Hello again. So here’s a question, and possibly a suggestion for another post; how does the SPLA provider offer a solution to a company with shift workers? Or, how do we compete against internal device licenses? If a company wants a traditional, in-house network they will buy 5 computers, let’s say, with an OS, 1 server with server OS, 5 server CALs, and 5 copies of Office and they can have 100 users defined in AD. Becasue the devices are licensed and they will only have a total of 5 people logged in at any time, they are complient.

    Now if I want to offer a DaaS, hosted desktop solution I have to charge them for 100 RDS and 100 Office licenses, correct? Even though they will still only ever have 5 staff logging on at any given time from the same 5 workstations? This is not a compelling, competitive solution. Is there another way?


    • splaman

      April 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Hi Tim…thanks for reading! Great question and I am not sure there is an easy answer. You are correct, to offer a desktop solution from a datacenter (under SPLA) you would need to license the OS + RDS for each user. That being said, the goal of this blog is to provide options.

      1) You can rent a PC out to the end user. This would include an OEM license, a Windows 8 license under SPLA, office. This would be licensed by device not by user.
      2) End customer can bring their licenses into your datacenter and you host it in a dedicated environment. VDI is a software assurance benefit, so the customer would need to buy the licenses outright and you would manage it for them. This is not SPLA, but volume licensing.

      I will brainstorm other ideas, great question!

      SPLA man

      • Matthijs

        January 5, 2015 at 5:32 am

        Hi SPLA man! Great info on this. We also work with customers that have a lot of part-time workers. Am I right that we (the hosting provider) have to use dedicated HARDWARE as well as a dedicated virtual server to comply with your second option?

  3. Gasper

    August 1, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Hi SPLA Man,

    thanks for a superb blogging.
    I look forward to reading new posts!


    • splaman

      August 1, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Thank you Gasper for the kind words. More to come!

  4. Darina Vodrazkova

    October 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Hi, SPLA-man!
    Where are you located? US? Europe?
    US – I guess…

    Thanks for sharing your experience with SPLA community.


    • splaman

      October 15, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Hi Darina.

      Most definitely. Thanks for reading. I cover the globe but based in US. Connect with me on LinkedIn

      • arsalan

        November 23, 2016 at 5:39 am

        Hi Splaman

        Can you please guide me on the compliance related query. Actually, we have signed the SPLA agreement with Microsoft and received the letter from them for the SAM. Are we liable to share the information about the co-location customer with Microsoft as per SPLA agreement. As we are only providing Space to the customer with out any information about customer’s licenses.

        Appreciate your positive response.


      • MS Licensing

        November 28, 2016 at 9:12 am

        Hi Arsalan – I’d be weary of providing end customer information. If you want to email me I can review further

  5. Chris Pop

    March 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hi SPLA-man,

    Thank you very much for helping out people through the ever confusing licencing options offered by Microsoft.

    I should be very grateful if you would kindly advise me on the following scenario.

    I tried getting help from Microsoft and on 3 different calls I got 3 different contradicting solutions. Also, I was passed through more than 7 different telephone numbers.

    Basically I have a server (2 CPUs) in a datacentre.

    I installed Server 2012 R2 using my own licence (I am a Microsoft Partner).

    I then used Hyper-V to install 4 Virtual Machines, each having Windows 8.1 Pro and Office 2013 Plus.

    Each VM (with windows and office) is rented out to 4 different customers (each having up to 10 users) who will use it as desktop of their business (i.e. dedicated virtual server). The users will connect concurrently via thin clients. for example, vSpace from nComputing will allow multiple users to concurrently access Windows 8.1 Pro via RDS (from desktop or mobile devices running Android, Windows, Linux, iOS, Mac etc) or thin clients (such as L300 thin client from nComputing).

    Those clients will also install their own non-Microsoft software on those VM desktops and also have their data installed on those VM desktops.

    What is the best way to licence these?
    1. use SPLA: what licences do I need (OEM for Windows 8.1, RDS CAL, Server CAL, Office CAL, per user CAL or device CAL etc)?
    2. install the software on the VMs but clients pay for the software licences (OEM for Windows 8.1, OEM for Office, CALS for RDS, Server and Office)
    3. other methods

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Chris Pop

    • splaman

      March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you for reading.

      First, I apologize for the runaround you received. There are a few issues I see in your scenario.

      1. You should not use media outside of SPLA to install software.

      2. Hosting a desktop from a datacenter environment is prohibited under SPLA. You will need to remove Windows Pro from the environment. Per the Managed PC Addnedum (your reseller has this) it states the following:
      Deployment restriction. The Device Software Products must be physically installed on the Rental PCs and may not be used or run within virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware systems. The Device Software Products may not be installed on servers and/or delivered from a datacenter, regardless of whether the data center is owned, leased or otherwise outsourced by Customer or End User. The Device Software Product may not be accessed from another device.

      3. If your customer wants Windows 8 Pro installed in a datacenter – they would need to bring the license to you under their own volume licensing agreement and you would need to host it in a physical and virtual dedicated environment for that customer only. (nothing shared)

      4. You can run/license Windows Datacenter 2012 by processor to emulate Windows 8 (but it’s not truly Windows 8, it’s Windows Server) and use RDS to connect. You can also install Office on the server and report RDS + Office per user and Windows by processor to give you a desktop experience.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Wierzej

    August 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I came across your blog a few days ago and I just want to thank You for the huge knowledge that you pass here in a clear manner like no other anywhere. When I finnish to read down the rest of the articles I would probably ask You some questions, so as not to duplicate questions you have already answered. Thank You for the wonderful job!

    • splaman

      August 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. If I can be any assistance, please reach out to me. Happy to help

  7. fredbe1981 (@fredbe1981)

    August 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Hi SplaMan,
    thanks for your blog, the information provided are very useful and clearly written.
    -> In my bookmarks

  8. Brett

    September 6, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Hello SplaMan –

    Great site, seriously, great info and very clear.

    I am a bit confused by the Productivity Suite SAL and wondered if you could shed some light on a specific question about how it works.

    Can the Productivity Suite SAL be combined with other SALs? For example, is this acceptable?

    User needs the functionality in the Productivity Suite SAL, but they also use Lync Enterprise Voice and SharePoint Enterprise. Can the user be licensed as Productivity Suite + Lync Plus + SharePoint Enterprise?

    Based on the SPUR it appears that SharePoint would be ok because it requires both the Standard (or Productivity) and Enterprise, but I am not sure on Lync.

    Thank you, appreciate your time.

    • splaman

      September 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Thank you for reading. Yes, you can combine SALs. There is no issue with that. Please remember to report all users that HAVE access. 🙂

  9. murugan

    October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Hello splaman,

    Great site, Thank you!

    I want to offer Windows web hosting services (offer both reseller and shared web hosting packages to customers) and I am thinking of acquiring both Windows 2012 OS license and SQL 2012 STD license for this purpose. I read the following SPLA license agreement from Microsoft website and I am confused a bit.

    What does it mean that I have to provide a monthly use report of at least $100 USD per month? Does it mean my hosting business have to make at least US$100 per month revenue in order for me to continue to be eligible for SPLA licensing?

    From Microsoft SPLA license agreement:

    “Provide monthly reporting on software licenses. Submit either a monthly use report of at least US$100 or Zero Use report (non-consecutive) to your SPLA reseller. You must also report on all licenses that you made available to your customers for your affiliates and software services resellers.
    Note: You may submit consecutive zero usage reports for the first six months immediately following the signing of your SPLA agreement. After the first six usage months, you must begin reporting at least US$100 per month to keep your SPLA agreement active.”

    • splaman

      October 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you for reading! Yes, you will have to maintain at least $100 (US) minimum in order to keep your agreement active.

      • murugan

        October 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

        Thank you splaman. Sorry if I am not getting this right…

        Do I have place a minimum of $100 per month worth of SPLA licenses to keep my agreement active?


        Do I have to show that my hosting business is making at least $100 every month using the licenses I purchased?

      • splaman

        October 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm

        You have to place a $100 per month worth of SPLA licenses

  10. murugan

    October 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Thank you again for your prompt response. Just a few more questions before I am completely clear on this topic:

    1) The SPLA agreement states this “Note: You may submit consecutive zero usage reports for the first six months immediately following the signing of your SPLA agreement” – If I have to order a US$100/month worth of licenses then what does this statement mean? Does it mean I don’t have to pay for any licenses for the first 6 months? In other words, free enrollment for the first 6 months?

    2) I understand the SQL 2012 licenses are sold in 2 core pack and there is a minimum of 4 cores that I have to order. If my server has a 2xQuad core physical processors that will total to a 8 cores. Do I have to buy SQL 2012 license for ALL cores on the system regardless how many cores I want allocate to SQL server?

    3) What happens if I enable HT on the processors. Now I have double the cores – Again, does it mean I have to purchase SQL 2012 licenses for ALL cores on the system?

  11. Jay

    December 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Hello, Splaman. Can the country of usage be defined within the SPLA? Seems like the reporting I’ve seen doesn’t list this as a column.

    • splaman

      December 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Yes, your reseller should have this info

  12. King

    December 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

    hello splaman,

    Can a service provider use windows 2012 datacenter edition with unlimited virtualization rights to provide windows virtual machines under SPLA agreement? what if the service provider uses Vmware as the virtualization host?

    • splaman

      December 23, 2014 at 11:58 am

      It does not matter which virtual technology you use – you have to license each processor on the host machine that will allow you to run unlimited VM’s. Hope this helps and thank you for reading!

  13. Brendan

    July 8, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Good day SPLA Man, been reading your blog and cant quit get my head raped around the Office SPLA stuff, here’s my sinario.

    we have server 2012 RDS loadbalanced farm with 8 session hosts and Office is installed on all 8 using SPLA licence and there are 200 user cals, but only 20 of those users use Office.

    #1. How do i report usage for Office? (8 hosts x 20 users ??? or 8 hosts x 200 user cals or ????)
    #2. How do i limit Office to only those 20 users?

    thanks in advance

    • splaman

      July 17, 2015 at 6:51 am

      All users that have access my friends would need an office license

      • Aurelien P.

        August 18, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        Would it be a solution to use AppLocker to limit access to Office only to a certain group of users in the AD ?

      • splaman

        August 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        Thank for reading and good question. I am not sure. Any other providers use this to limit certain users from access?

  14. Ramnath Viswanathan

    August 4, 2015 at 2:40 am

    I understand SPLA agreement is for three years. We have a scenario where our SPLA agreement is about to expire and we do not want to renew for three years. Can we opt for 1 year or 2 year SPLA?

    • splaman

      August 4, 2015 at 6:39 am

      There may be an instance in which you can ask for an extension. In all my years I have never seen one before but know it’s an option. Easiest thing to do one sign a new SPLA and terminate it once you no longer need it. There is no penalty as SPLA is pay as you go. Hope this helps!

  15. Larry M.

    March 23, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Hello, I just tried contacting you to see if you would be willing to provide some consulting to us on the SPLA licensing program, however the email bounced back. Could you please contact me?

    • splaman

      March 24, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Thank you Larry – yes, please resend!

  16. Rachel Lam

    April 1, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Hi, thanks for the great website on Microsoft SPLA licensing, there is really limited information out there!
    Would like check with you on Remote User CAL for SPLA license, assuming we have a remote desktop service (RDS) environment for 10 users, but there are only 4 simultaneous remote connection maximum at one time. How many CAL license shall I report to Microsoft?


    • splaman

      May 27, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Sorry for the delay. I was away on holiday. It is 10.

  17. Lawrence B.

    April 10, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Hi Splaman!

    I am hosting an application that my customers subscribe to. The application is hosted on AWS on virtual machines and uses SQL Server 2012 to store a copy of user’s data. My application generates analysis and stores results in SQL 2012. A web UI is provided for customers to view results. Is this appropriate scenario for SPLA licensing?

    • splaman

      May 27, 2016 at 7:56 am

      Yes, but i am guessing you are already purchasing SQL and Windows from Amazon?

      • Rocky

        June 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        To expand on the above Q&A about SQL on AWS, can you confirm that SQL must be purchased through Amazon vs. SPLA BYOL? AWS SQL cost is significantly higher than SPLA.

      • splaman

        June 2, 2016 at 2:49 pm

        The only way to license SQL on AWS thru SPLA is if you purchase a dedicated environment (HW and VM) from Amazon or license SQL STD by user. If you must license Enterprise, you must purchase it from Amazon or have the end customer license it through mobility.

  18. Thilo

    January 15, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Hi Splaman,

    thanks for your great site, it helped me a lot to understand the details of SPLA licencing.
    In the Article “Core Licensing for Windows and SQL” there maybe should stressed, that licencing the minimum of 8 cores for Windows Server is done by reporting four x “2Lic CoreLic”, right? Some of our customers are a little bit confused, because they know, that Volume Licencing (not SPLA) requires a minimum of 16 Cores licenced (2 CPUs, min. of 8 Cores each). The SPUR reads “The number of Licenses required equals the number of Physical Cores on the Licensed Server, subject to a minimum of 8 Licenses per Physical Processor. ” – so it’s not clear, that 8 Licenses means 4 x “2Lic CoreLic”.
    Best regards, Thilo

    • MS Licensing

      January 15, 2018 at 7:44 am

      I’m not sure why Microsoft does that. It confuses both SPLA and VL customers. That is correct and point well taken. Thank you for reading!

  19. Folkert

    January 26, 2018 at 5:04 am

    This is a very nice page! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Osmosys

    March 8, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Thank you for the valuable information. It really helps a lot to understand the SPLA licencing system.


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