CSM is Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, granting subscribers access to Windows 10 licenses for $7 per seat per month. Customers of that program just got a nice bonus. MS has announced that they can “upgrade their Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs and devices to Windows 10 at no additional cost.” (Source: Windows Business Blog) This is not just a great opportunity for business customers, it’s also a necessity for Microsoft. They’ve made it crystal clear that they want to move business users off of older Windows versions and onto Windows 10. This offer means that CSM subscribers get free upgrades. But Microsoft also gets a reduced service and support load as a result of its uptake.
Of course, MS will get the same rate going forward for newly-upgraded seats as it got for prior subscriptions. But what’s in this offer for business customers? The earlier CSM arrangement required them to purchase a Windows 10 license to upgrade machines before they could participate in the program. This saves the $200-plus that a Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education license costs at putative MSRP. (Such costs usually go down somewhat under the terms of most Volume Purchase agreements for larger numbers of licenses.)
Why Do CSM Subscribers Get Free Upgrades, Really?
Sure, Microsoft can pick up some more subscription revenue out of this deal for seats upgraded under this offer. Maybe even a large number of seats, in fact. But the real savings from moving customers to Windows 10 is in services and support. Right now, MS has to maintain deep and broad organizations to support customers, provide security patches, and handle integration with management platforms and tools. If they can start to slim down on legacy installs and up the number of current generation seats in use, they can save big. I have to believe that’s what’s driving this particular bus.
One more good thing for customers appears a little later in the afore-quoted blog post. It’s worth reproducing in its entirety:
The Windows 10 upgrade licenses issued as part of this process are perpetual and associated with the device. This means the license will not expire or be revoked if the customer chooses to end their Windows cloud subscription in the CSP program.
I’m sure customers will be reassured to understand that they get to keep those upgrades after exercising this offer. Nobody wants a deal that ties them to a subscription in perpetuity, that’s for sure! And for the record, the offer applies to Windows 10 Enterprise plus Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5.
How Can CSM Subscribers Get Free Upgrades?
Here’s how: The so-called “tenant admins” (folks who manage subscriptions on the customer side) must log into the Office 365 Admin Center using Azure Active Directory credentials. There, they’ll see these options:
After that, the upgraded workstations fold into the environment along with the original subscriber elements. Easy-peasy, huh?