Microsoft academic licensing programs can be hard to keep straight. Here’s a handy guide to what programs they offer for educational institutions, who they benefit, and what software they entitle them to.
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Microsoft has catered to the education industry for a long time. From old programs like MSDNAA to the latest version of Windows Education, they’ve created countless offerings for academic institutions and users. This has been a win-win – Microsoft’s licensing programs give schools and students inexpensive access to top software, and encouraging product adoption in higher education helps Microsoft remain the industry standard.
The only problem is that the sheer volume of Microsoft’s academic offerings make them hard to keep straight. There are so many similar-yet-different programs, many schools aren’t even sure which they’re enrolled in, much less who’s entitled to what software at what discount.
To clear up this confusion, we’ve created this guide to some common Microsoft academic licensing programs. Read on learn about programs your school may qualify for (or already be enrolled in).
Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching
This Microsoft licensing program has gone by many names over its long history. It’s the latest evolution of the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA), which was later rebranded to DreamSpark and then to Microsoft Imagine. If any of those names sound familiar, then you probably have a sense of what this program includes.
Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching gives STEM students and educators at enrolled institutions free access to a wide range of Microsoft development tools. This includes the Visual Studio and SQL Server suites, Windows Server, Project, Access, and more. Only institutions that have a Microsoft Volume License Agreement (VLA) are eligible to enroll in the program.
You can learn more about the program by checking out Microsoft’s Azure Education Hub FAQs.
Microsoft Student Option
Azure Dev Tools offers an expansive catalog of software, but much of it is only useful to certain students. Student Option is a program for schools that just need to equip students with the most popular, broadly useful Microsoft applications.
Student Option enables schools to provide free or low-cost access to the latest versions of Microsoft Windows (specifically Windows Education) and Microsoft Office. Since all students are licensed under the program, the software can be made available to them at no cost. However, schools can choose to charge a fee for access in order to recover costs or even generate revenue.
Microsoft Student Use Benefit
Microsoft Student Use Benefit (SUB) is a licensing program for schools that just want to equip their students with the most essential piece of Microsoft software – Windows. Basically, it’s Student Option without Office.
A SUB agreement licenses all students at an institution for a copy of the latest version of Windows Education. This can be provided for free or for a fee, just like with Student Option. Schools can get a SUB agreement at no cost if they have licensed their staff and faculty for Windows through Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES), which we’ll look at later.
You can find more information about SUB on our Student Use Benefit page.
Microsoft Work at Home
Now let’s look at a Microsoft academic licensing program aimed at educators rather than students.
Microsoft’s Work at Home program (WAH) licenses all faculty at enrolled institutions for Microsoft Office and Windows. Unlike the programs we’ve covered so far, the software is not free for end users. However, it is made available for hundreds of dollars off retail price.
The bad news is that Microsoft has officially discontinued the WAH program. However, schools that were already enrolled were grandfathered in, and many are still actively offering software through it today.
Microsoft EES is a licensing offer that compliments the Microsoft Education solution – a broader education-aimed initiative that offers devices, tools, and expertise to support schools.
EES gives faculty and staff access to Microsoft products that assist in educating students. Unlike the programs described so far, EES does not license all users of a certain type for the full catalog of included software. Instead, it provides a set number of licenses based on each school’s needs (for “Education Qualified Users”). “Light” users (those not considered Education Qualified Users) get access only to Office 365 A1 by default, but schools can subscribe to additional products as needed.
For more information on EES, you can download Microsoft’s Enrollment for Education Solutions Brief.