Microsoft Changing Up Client Access Fees

Microsoft reconfigures which licenses are provided in the company's client access license system.

With the recent revisions of some of its business software offerings, Microsoft announced new pricing for the so-called "client access licenses" (CAL) that users must have in order to access those products.

However, the changes in configuration and costs won't take effect until August.

The changes may not be difficult to spot, however, especially when it comes to price.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has two types of CALs -- a Core CAL and an Enterprise CAL (ECAL) Step Up edition. That is, a customer who needs more than the Core CAL provides antes up to upgrade to the ECAL option.

In the current version, the Core CAL provides licenses for basic server products such as Windows Server, Systems Center Configuration Manager, SharePoint Standard edition, and Exchange Standard edition, according to a Microsoft FAQ (as PDF) online.

By comparison, the ECAL Step Up option currently adds CALs for Active Directory Rights Management Service (RMS), Forefront Unified Access Gateway, and Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) Suite. It also includes CALs for Systems Center Client Management Suite, besides SharePoint and Exchange ECALs.

Right now, the ECAL Step Up bundle provides both Standard and Enterprise CALs for Microsoft Lync 2010.

Released in November, Lync is Microsoft's latest shot at a unified communications package, "unifying enterprise voice, instant messaging and Web, audio and video conferencing -- all within the same user experience and back-end infrastructure," the company said last fall. Lync replaces Microsoft's Office Communications Server.

The new configuration moves the Lync Standard CAL into the Core CAL package from the ECAL Step Up.

At the same time, the Core CAL package also adds the latest version of FEP, "a tool combining security and management at the desktop level," the FAQ said. The latest version, FEP 2010 was released in December. One change in FEP 2010 was that it updated the package's anti-malware engine.

It had also previously been in the ECAL Step Up option.

However, the changes shift some of the cost to the Core CAL pricing.

Currently, the price for the Core CAL is $80 per user, and the ECAL Step Up adds another $94, according to the FAQ. On August 1, the changes will be made and the pricing will shift as well.

At that time, the Core CAL will gain $9 in price and jump to $89 per user, while the ECAL Step Up drops $8 to $86. However, the company added the disclaimer that those may not be the final prices.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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