How to choose the best Microsoft licensing for your school

There is a huge array of Microsoft licensing being used across schools, with some schools possibly spending much more than is needed on delivering the software solutions that allow their schools to operate.

Lets start with the basics, all schools get access to Microsoft Office 365 A1 for free! this allows a school to host a domain, along with a Microsoft tenant on the Microsoft platform, in turn the school will get access to upto 2000 faculty licenses and upto 2000 student licenses office office A1 for free. Crucially for many schools this includes “exchange” which is used to manage mailboxes, as well as cloud versions of outlook, word, excel, powerpoint and onenote.

Available to upgrade from the standard free office A1 for education are A3 and A5 plans, a quick overview of the differences can be found below:


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Typically office A3 and A5 licenses are provided through what is known as CSP (cloud service provider) this is typically an annual (although it can be done monthly) way of subscribing to Microsoft licenses, and is done through a reseller or direct with microsoft. Its important to note, this is a different way of delivering Office through a more traditional OVS-ES agreement, we will cover those in a short while.


OVS-ES agreements

Traditionally microsoft delivered licensing through an OVS-ES agreement, these agreements are arranged by Microsoft authorised education partners and are delivered through a 3 year agreement number. OVS-ES agreements can be used for licensing for office, desktop, server, user CALs and others, and will allow the school update to the latest versions of these software’s through its yearly charge, instead of purchasing upgrades at upon each release.

Although these agreements have been popular amongst schools, its often worth reviewing, if you are buying hardware (laptops, desktops and servers ) with pre-installed licenses, you may be able to drop the year fee for these licenses, and often Office can be more cost effective through the CSP platform, although this does depend on the versions being subscribed too.