Software Assurance – Microsoft Support – Do you need it ?

Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) is:

  • A program within Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement for streamlined IT product management.
  • Includes a mix of technologies, services, and rights.
  • Acts as a mandatory maintenance fee for licenses under the Enterprise Agreement.
  • Simplifies license management and renewal processes.
  • Offers varying rights and benefits; certain products require SA for specific advantages, like SQL Server Enterprise’s unlimited virtualization.

What is Software Assurance?

Software Assurance

Software Assurance (SA) is a key component of Microsoft’s licensing strategy, designed to enhance the management and usage of IT products.

  • Comprehensive Program: SA combines technologies, services, and rights for streamlined IT product management.
  • Mandatory within Enterprise Agreement: It’s a required maintenance fee for licenses acquired through the Enterprise Agreement.
  • Simplified License Management: SA eliminates the need to track individual licenses and eases renewal without requiring new licenses.

Alternatives to Software Assurance:

  • Other Agreements: For licenses without SA, options include CSP, Open (deprecated), or MPSA. Note that some products, particularly platform or enterprise ones, are only available through the Enterprise Agreement.
  • Rights Variation: The rights and benefits can vary significantly with or without SA. For example, SQL Server Enterprise offers unlimited virtualization benefits only with SA.

How does Software Assurance function?

Acquisition and Cost:

  • Purchase Window: SA can be bought with new Microsoft software licenses or within 90 days of license acquisition.
  • Cost Structure: The cost is a percentage of the license cost, varying based on the licensing agreement.

The Benefits of Software Assurance

Software Assurance benefits

Software Assurance (SA) by Microsoft offers an array of services that significantly enhance the software management experience for customers.

  • 24/7 Technical Support and Planning Services: Clients gain round-the-clock access to technical support and planning services with SA.
  • Training Opportunities: It includes end-user and technical training at no extra cost, providing valuable educational resources.

Premier/Unified Support Services

  • Annual Support Allocation: Clients receive support annually throughout their enrollment period.
  • Flexible Support Hours: Additional support hours can be purchased without True-up.
  • Comprehensive Services: Includes hands-on assistance, issue escalation, IT health evaluations, and training.
  • Sales and Contracting: Typically sold through a Microsoft Service Account Sales representative, it can be contracted outside or included in the Enterprise Agreement.

Digital Advisory Services

  • Visionary Assistance: Microsoft Digital Advisors aid in designing a company’s future vision.
  • Contractual Services: Offers various services assigned per year of the contract term.
  • Service Offers: Includes Connect, Foundation, and Portfolio, with extra capacity available through a Capacity Add-on option.

Common Software Assurance Benefits

  • Access to Latest Product Versions: Allows users to upgrade to new versions without additional costs.
  • Flexible Licensing Options: Enables access to virtual Windows instances and a choice between cloud services and on-premises software.
  • Cost-Efficient Upgrades: Reduces costs associated with software and service upgrades.

Unique Use Rights and Technologies

  • Step-up Rights: The ability to upgrade from a lower to a higher edition product.
  • Disaster Recovery and Failover Rights: For Windows Server and SQL Server.
  • Azure Hybrid Benefit: Lowers Azure costs.
  • From SA Subscription Licenses: Option to shift from on-premises licenses to cloud subscriptions.

Software Assurance Credit

  • Overlap Credits: Microsoft may assign credits if SA coverage overlaps during renewal.
  • Price Sheet Requirement: Necessary for actions like mergers or consolidating multiple enrollments.

Pros and Cons of Software Assurance

Pros and Cons of Software Assurance


  1. Access to Latest Versions: Keeps software up-to-date without additional licensing costs.
  2. Comprehensive Support and Training: Provides extensive technical support and educational resources.
  3. Flexible and Comprehensive Services: From Digital Advisory Services to Premier Support, SA caters to various needs.
  4. Cost-Efficiency: Reduces overall costs associated with software upgrades and new installations.


  1. Cost Consideration: The overall cost of SA may be high, depending on the extent of services used.
  2. Complexity in Management: Navigating the various aspects of SA can be complex and may require dedicated management.
  3. Limited to Microsoft Products: SA benefits are confined to Microsoft’s ecosystem, which may not cover all IT needs of a business.
  4. Potential Underutilization: There’s a risk of underutilizing the extensive services offered, leading to unnecessary expenditures.

Understanding the balance between these pros and cons is essential for businesses to maximize their Software Assurance investment.

FAQ About Microsoft Software Assurance

FAQ About Microsoft Software Assurance

1. What is Microsoft Software Assurance (SA)?

  • SA is a comprehensive licensing program by Microsoft that offers a range of benefits, including access to the latest software versions, technical support, and training resources.

2. How do you get Software Assurance?

  • SA can be acquired by purchasing it along with qualifying Microsoft software licenses, often as part of a volume licensing agreement.

3. What are the key benefits of Software Assurance?

  • Key benefits include access to new software versions, technical support, training opportunities, and planning services. It also offers license mobility and unique use rights.

4. Can Software Assurance help with cost savings?

  • Yes, SA provides cost savings by offering upgrades to new versions at no additional cost and reducing the need for separate purchases for new software releases.

5. Does Software Assurance cover all Microsoft products?

  • SA covers a wide range of Microsoft products but may not include every product. It’s important to check specific product eligibility under the SA program.

6. What is the difference between Software Assurance and a standard software license?

  • A standard software license gives you the right to use the software, whereas SA provides additional benefits like version upgrades, support, and training.

7. How long does Software Assurance last?

  • SA typically lasts for the licensing agreement, usually two or three years, after which it can be renewed.

8. Is Software Assurance mandatory with all Microsoft licenses?

  • No, SA is not mandatory for all Microsoft licenses. It’s an optional program available with volume licensing agreements.

9. Can you transfer Software Assurance benefits?

  • Certain benefits, like license mobility, allow for transferring licenses between servers or to third-party cloud providers, but some restrictions apply.

10. How does Software Assurance support training and development?

  • SA includes access to online training resources, webcasts, and planning services that aid in software deployment, architecture design, and skill development.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.

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