It’s hard to see the justification, but Microsoft just announced it will cut back four of its payment plans for SharePoint Online and Office Online once the plans expire at the end of June.

While Microsoft certainly can cut back on plans whenever it wants, especially when those plans expire, the lack of an explanation could leave a bad taste in the mouths of enterprise customers facing higher prices in replacement plans.

In fairness to Microsoft, it does go into some detail about how the new plans are going to operate, and also says that it will be offering “one-time price discounts for EA [Enterprise Agreement] customers to cover the additional cost associated with transitioning to the higher priced plans." 

Tangled Logic

It also says that syndication partners will be offered wholesale price discounts so that they can offer similar concessions to their customers.

That’s pretty good, but why fix what is not broken? And if it is broken and not really working, why not just come out and say it? New management should mean new rules, right?

Microsoft simply says the new plan is designed to streamline current plans that are sometimes hard to untangle.

blog post about the new pricing said:

In an effort to streamline our subscription plans and to provide clearer plan differentiation, we will retire the following SharePoint Online plans on July 1, 2014:

  • SharePoint Plan 1 w/ Yammer
  • SharePoint Plan 2 w/ Yammer
  • Office Online w/ SharePoint Plan 1
  • Office Online w/ SharePoint Plan 2

It also says that corresponding government and academic plans are being suppressed as well.

What this means is that as of the end of this month SharePoint Online Plans 1 and 2 with Yammer, as well as Office Online with SharePoint Plans 1 and 2, will no longer be sold.

New Pricing Plans

This doesn’t mean that organizations that have subscribed to these plans will have to find alternative plans in the next two weeks, as this chart shows.

2014-06-18-SharePoint Online Scheduling.jpg
SharePoint Online Plan Change Scheduling

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft said that enterprises that are currently on these plans will be able to use them for a year, or even two years, depending on the original agreement. Ultimately though, because these kinds of plans can reach right across the enterprise, it is probably a good idea to start looking at the options now. Those on the Enterprise Agreement plan have even longer to sort this out, but come the end of June 2017, they will also be forced to change plans.

Pushing Office365

There are a couple of other points that should be noted.Users will still be able to buy SharePoint Online standalone if that’s what they need, but Microsoft is again pushing Office 365 and says users will get most value from an Office 365 plan.

2014-06-18-SharePoint Online New Plans.jpg

SharePoint Online New Price Plans

More Choices

It is also worth noting that while Microsoft currently doesn't offer separate SharePoint and Yammer Open licensing plans, it will be introducing separate plans starting on August 1. If you were struggling to get your head around the different pricing plans that Microsoft introduced when it first released Office 365 two years ago, this is not going to help.

If you throw it all up in the air and let it land, you may be able to find sense in it somewhere, but it’s not exactly transparent. There is probably a very logical reason why Microsoft has done this and it possibly even adds up. But it hasn’t been very transparent about it, and that was one of the things everyone is still looking for from the new management.

Featured image by Emin Kuliyev, Shutterstock