Managing CSP Licensing with NCE and Legacy Subscriptions

Young woman comparing two things, Microsoft NCE and Legacy subscriptions.

Microsoft has significantly changed its licensing subscription services by moving to the New Commerce Experience (NCE) platform. The old rules still apply to a few subscriptions, and the latest rules apply to new subscriptions. This change has created confusion among Microsoft clients as there are now two rule sets for CSP licensing to follow: one for legacy subscriptions and another for those converted to NCE.

We will likely live in both worlds for a while. Microsoft originally planned to retire Legacy subscriptions upon expiration and only provide NCE subscriptions upon renewal. However, Microsoft retraced its steps and allowed existing Legacy subscriptions to renew indefinitely. Currently, academic, nonprofit and government/GCC licensing remain on Legacy subscriptions, with no specific dates for when they may be compelled to convert to NCE.

Managing CSP Licensing with NCE and Legacy Subscriptions

Let’s examine what is essential to know about managing Microsoft CSP licensing and working with Microsoft’s NCE cancellation policy.

  • Cancellations– Legacy subscriptions may be canceled or reduced at any time. Under NCE policy, subscriptions are cancelable with a prorated refund within the first 168 hours of any term. After the 168-hour window, cancellation is no longer available. The client will be billed for the entire duration, even if the customer stops using the subscription (applicable to any billing plan).
  • Adding Subscriptions– For legacy subscriptions, you can add anytime, whereas, for NCE subscriptions, you may also add anytime, but the cancellation policy clock starts ticking. After 168 hours, users may not cancel until the term expires.
  • Upgrading– Legacy subscriptions are not capable of receiving an upgrade. NCE subscriptions allow upgrades to qualifying packages and can cancel included add-ons through a qualified CSP, such as OneNeck, via a support ticket to Microsoft.
  • Auto-renew– Automatic renewal occurs for Legacy subscriptions until cancelation. NCE subscriptions will also, by default, auto-renew. However, to cancel the subscription at the end of the term, one only needs to uncheck the auto-renew option.
  • Alignment of Subscription End Date– Aligning with a subscription end date is not possible for Legacy subscriptions. With NCE subscriptions, you can pick an end-of-term date when ordering that matches an existing subscription.
  • Schedule Changes– Legacy subscriptions can make changes at any time and are not tied to an end-of-term. NCE subscriptions have some limitations in their ability to change during the term. However, customers can schedule many changes, including quantity modifications, term date alignment and term change to occur at renewal.

Strategy for Managing CSP Licensing

Managing CSP licensing is a daunting task for any organization. Knowing the best strategy to manage licensing and improve productivity can be challenging with so many options and promotions available. Fortunately, OneNeck provides a comprehensive plan for managing CSP subscriptions that helps businesses navigate this complex landscape.

Maintaining Legacy Subscriptions

One of the components of the OneNeck CSP licensing strategy is to advise organizations to consider keeping Legacy licensing until they feel it is necessary to move to NCE. While Legacy licensing might not seem as appealing as newer options, in many cases, it may be helpful to maintain until Microsoft further incentivizes clients to move. For example, organizations can reduce or add to the quantity of Legacy licensing whenever needed. OneNeck’s self-service portal allows clients to make these changes quickly and easily. Organizations with a regular need for licensing fluctuation would be wise to maintain their Legacy subscription.

Moving to NCE Subscriptions

There are several reasons for organizations to consider the move to NCE licensing, including upgrading to a higher-level package, taking advantage of promotions and moving to OneNeck CSP.

Upgrading Licenses– If an organization needs to upgrade to a higher-level package, Legacy licensing won’t be sufficient. Customers will need to order new NCE subscriptions for commercial or corporate clients. Microsoft is currently offering promotions for first-time subscribers to Microsoft 365 Business Premium. This subscription includes basic security functionality, such as MFA, conditional access policies, endpoint management and protection. If an organization currently uses Legacy Microsoft 365 Business Basic or Microsoft 365 Business Standard licenses, this promotion may be a reason to convert. While the current promotion is good until June, other incentives will undoubtedly be forthcoming.

Moving to OneNeck as your Microsoft CSP– OneNeck’s Microsoft CSP Program delivers superior support, customer success, advanced managed service options, and a focus on security and productivity for clients. If an organization is not a client of OneNeck, they will need to order new NCE subscriptions through OneNeck and cancel their Legacy subscriptions with their old provider.

Adoption Score– OneNeck’s CSP licensing strategy includes turning on Adoption Score, a free tool provided through Microsoft 365 Admin. This tool recommends how to use licensing to improve user experience and productivity. After a listening period, Adoption Score gives feedback based on the organization as a whole rather than singling out individuals.

The information provided gives businesses a holistic view of how their organization utilizes Microsoft licensing and highlights areas where they can improve. Adoption Score allows companies to understand which licenses are used most and which are underutilized. Based on this data, they can make informed decisions about reallocating licenses to improve user experience and boost productivity.

Aligning subscription end dates– Organizations can align subscription end dates, making it easier to renew all subscriptions simultaneously. By doing so, businesses can manage licensing more efficiently and effectively.

One way to achieve good alignment is to request that subscriptions be aligned to existing ones at order or renewal time. This approach ensures the management of licenses from a central location and eliminates overlap or duplication. It also streamlines the management process by allowing businesses to simultaneously change and update all licenses.

License Assignment Hygiene– One essential part of good hygiene is periodically unassigning licenses from old users who no longer require them. By doing this, businesses can avoid wasting licenses and reduce their overall cost. An apple a day, …

In addition to unassigning licenses, it is also important to establish reasonable account control. Businesses can achieve this by implementing group-based licensing assignments through Active Directory. This approach reduces the number of steps and possible mistakes when assigning licensing while simplifying provisioning and making licensing management easier.

Annual Renewal Cycle Planning– Finally, participating with OneNeck in the annual renewal cycle is crucial for organizations that want to be as efficient as possible with their Microsoft licensing usage. This annual planning process, determined by when your subscriptions expire, can help organizations stay updated with the latest licensing rules and ensure they take full advantage of all available options.

OneNeck, A Microsoft CSP That Has Your Back

Managing CSP licensing can be a complex and challenging task. As a Microsoft Gold Cloud Service Provider OneNeck offers a broad range of solutions for organizations looking to optimize their use of M365. Our services include consulting, implementation and ongoing support to help organizations maximize their M365 investment.

Our experienced team is ready to assist you throughout your Microsoft licensing experience. Through our work with hundreds of customers, we know the ins and out of M365 and use that hands-on expertise to help our customers save time, reduce costs and get maximum value from their M365 subscriptions.


Contact a OneNeck Microsoft expert today to discuss a CSP solution tailored to your organization’s needs.

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