Microsoft Partner Benefits and SPLA

Partner benefits are great and can help reduce licensing expenditure, but it is also essential to understand what you can and cannot do from a compliance perspective. This article will discuss the pros and cons of partner benefits and what you need to be aware of.

When hosting Microsoft software (licenses) to third parties, it can be very confusing what you can do for licenses you are granted through competencies you invested in and achieved. You must remember that your company invested and reached the competencies, not your customer.

Microsoft can do a better job at explaining this to partners. For example, when speaking to Microsoft, they will describe hosters as “partners.” This is true, you are a partner, but when you read licensing guides and FAQs, it can be unclear because it states partners can use licenses can be shared. (Microsoft Partner Network software licensing benefits FAQ) However, it just means you can share licenses across your organization, not someone else’s. It states:

Yes. Licenses can be shared.

For Action Pack subscribers, you can only share the licenses granted through your subscription within the subscribing country. The licenses granted to you are per country and cannot be shared across countries.

For competency partners: licenses can be shared across countries, but the total number of licenses used within a partner organization cannot exceed the per country, or worldwide maximum license cap. Partners can share licenses only within the organization1 that earns these licenses—between the headquarters location and any of its associated locations. These locations must be associated with the headquarters located at the Partner Membership Center to be eligible for this benefit. Partners cannot share licenses across separate organizations.

We get asked about partner benefits and why a hoster can’t use them. In short, if Microsoft allowed partner benefits to be used, there would be a lot of language around eligibility. Secondly, if Microsoft allowed partner benefits, why would license mobility exist?

Other considerations:

No downgrade rights for internal users.

No Windows client (upgrade only)

Must have active partner participation (active status) to be eligible. Registered partner status (which is the minimal requirement for SPLA) has no partner benefits at all.

If you have any questions, there is a licensing guide we can send out to you on this topic. You can email us at

Thank you for reading,


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