Sell software subscriptions through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program

Appropriate roles: Admin agent | Global admin

With Azure reservations and server subscriptions (Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions), partners in the CSP program can better address the fast-growing customer demand for more cost-effective solutions to support highly predictable and persistent cloud workloads.

You can now acquire, provision, and manage Azure reservations and server subscriptions on behalf of commercial customers through Partner Center and the Azure portal by taking advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit.

The Azure Hybrid Benefit helps you get more value from your Windows Server licenses and save up to 40 percent on virtual machines. You can use the benefit with Windows Server Datacenter and Standard edition licenses covered with Software Assurance. Depending on the edition, you can convert or reuse your licenses to run Windows Server virtual machines in Azure and pay a lower base compute rate (Linux virtual machine rates, for example).

Azure reservations unavailable markets

Important

Azure reservations are not available in the following markets:

Unavailable markets (in alphabetical order)

A to Gi Gr to Pal Pap to Z
Aland Islands Greenland Papua New Guinea
American Samoa Grenada Pitcairn Islands
Andorra Guadeloupe Reunion
Anguilla Guam Saba
Antarctica Guernsey Saint Barthélemy
Antigua and Barbuda Guinea Saint Lucia
Aruba Guinea-Bissau Saint Martin
Azerbaijan Guyana Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Benin Haiti Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Bhutan Heard Island and McDonald Islands Samoa
Bonaire Isle of Man San Marino
Bouvet Island Jan Mayen São Tomé and Príncipe
British Indian Ocean Territory Jersey Seychelles
British Virgin Islands Kiribati Sierra Leone
Burkina Faso Kosovo Sint Eustatius
Burundi Laos Sint Maarten
Cambodia Lesotho Solomon Islands
Central African Republic Liberia Somalia
Chad Madagascar South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
China Malawi South Sudan
Christmas Island Maldives St Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Mali Suriname
Comoros Marshall Islands Svalbard
Congo Martinique Swaziland
Congo (DRC) Mauritania Timor-Leste
Cook Islands Mayotte Togo
Djibouti Micronesia Tokelau
Dominica Montserrat Tonga
Equatorial Guinea Mozambique Turks and Caicos Islands
Eritrea Myanmar Tuvalu
Falkland Islands Nauru U.S. Outlying Islands
French Guiana New Caledonia Vanuatu
French Polynesia Niger Vatican City
French Southern Territories Niue Wallis and Futuna
Gabon Norfolk Island Yemen
Gambia Northern Mariana Islands
Gibraltar Palau

Buy software subscriptions on behalf of customers

Use the following steps to purchase software subscriptions on behalf of a customer.

  1. Sign in to the Partner Center dashboard and select the Customers tile.

  2. Choose a customer from the list.

  3. From the customer's detail page, select Add products, and then follow the on-screen instructions to create and pay for your order. All commercial pricing excludes tax except for Australia and Brazil. For Australia and Brazil, the price includes tax.

Software subscriptions purchased on or after October 14, 2021 will appear in the Subscriptions page list for a customer in addition to the Software page list, and these software subscriptions will be returned by the Get Subscriptions API. Software subscriptions purchased before October 14, 2021 will not show in the Subscriptions page list or be returned by the Get Subscriptions API. All software subscriptions, regardless of the date they are bought will be returned by the Get Orders API.

Activate and manage software subscriptions

After you've purchased your software, you or your customers need to download it (partners using Partner Center, customers using the Microsoft 365 Admin Center). Use the following procedure to do so. It’s important to understand the risks associated with copying links and downloading software. For more information, see Using Partner Center to obtain customer software downloads and license keys in the Partner Center New Commerce Operations Guide.

Note

You must be an Admin agent in Partner Center to obtain the link to keys and downloads.

  1. From your customer's detail page, and then select Software. You'll see a list of all the software you've purchased on behalf of the customer.

  2. Choose product version, language, bit, and select Get keys and downloads.

  3. Choose Get Key to display the 32-digit product in a pop-up dialog box, which you can copy and send to the customer.

  4. Choose Download to download the bits.

  5. Choose Copy Link if you want to send the customer the link to the bits download.

  6. You can also Cancel the software order and receive 100% credit (if done within the 30-day cancellation policy period).

Note

Only customers have access to see the product keys and download information in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center (Global Admin role required). Partners must use Partner Center to see this information.

Note

CSP purchases are activated via a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). Key Management Service (KMS) keys are not allowed, even upon request.

Move a customer's on-premises license from VL to CSP with no downtime

Even though KMS keys aren't available in CSP, you can still move your customer's on-premises licenses from VL to CSP and prevent downtime due to the purchasing channel switch. KMS distributes the licenses to the clients, and they usually remain active for 180 days before the device tries to renew that activation. This means the device will already be activated and will run for some time before any issues arise.

If the customer deploys the new MAK during this time, either manually or in a scripted way (using slmgr.vbs), no downtime will occur. If the customer doesn't deploy the new MAK during this time and tries to renew the license later, the device could become limited or blocked in some functionalities until it's reactivated.

For more information, go to Activate clients running Windows 10 (Windows 10) - Windows Deployment. For assistance with this type of deployment, you can submit a Technical Presales and Deployment services request.

Server subscription download and license keys available through Microsoft 365 Admin Center for customers

Your customers will be able to get CSP server subscription license keys and downloads from Microsoft 365 Admin Center. To see their CSP server subscription license keys and downloads, customer must go to Microsoft 365 Admin Center > Billing > Your products > Software tab. For more information, see Software Tab under Billing.

View activity for software key access and software downloads

For auditing or compliance purposes, you may need to check a list of users who have either accessed server subscription software keys or downloaded server subscription software. Use the procedure below to access this information.

Note

You must be a Global administrator, Account admin, Referral admin, or Marketing content admin to see these activity logs.

  1. Sign in to the Partner Center dashboard.

  2. Select the Settings gear icon, then Account Settings, then select Activity log.

  3. Enter the date range for the activity you want to see. The activity log will display a list of users who have either accessed software keys or downloaded software during the time you specified.

Toggle auto renew

On October 14, Microsoft enabled auto-renew capabilities for software subscriptions purchased in CSP new commerce (auto-renew default set to “ON”). This capability’s intent was to simplify the renewal process for partners and their customers, allowing for software subscriptions to auto-renew at their designated renewal date by default. (Software subscriptions purchased prior to October 14, 2021, won't have the auto-renew capability and will expire as indicated at time of purchase.)

Based on partner feedback, and to give partners more time to adapt to the change, Microsoft will revert the auto-renew default of “ON” by setting the auto-renew default to “OFF.” The estimated date for this reversion is October 26, 2021. Microsoft anticipates moving the default auto-renewal setting to “ON” on January 22, 2022.

All software subscription purchases made from October 14, 2021, up until the rollback date will be set to auto-renew “OFF” by Microsoft. Auto-renew capability will still be available, and partners will be able to toggle auto-renew “ON” from the new default OFF.

Managing billing frequency

To reduce cash-flow pressure and increase accessibility for customers, partners may now change billing-frequency preferences for software subscriptions. They may split large payments into several charges over time. Doing so may put more expensive services within reach for smaller businesses that have limited cash flow. Previously, one-year and three-year product SKUs supported only one-time billing. Starting October 14, 2021, new billing plans are available, with one-year term product SKUs now supporting “annual” and three-year product SKUs supporting “triennial” and “annual.” In cases where the term is the same as the billing plan, it will behave as a one-time payment per term. As of October 22, 2021, there's one product that supports a monthly billing plan (Windows Remote Desktop Server CAL 2022).

Partners using the Partner Center catalog will see the available billing plans on the review screen prior to purchasing.

Partners previously passing billing cycles of “one-time” when they create cart line items should now pass the actual billing cycle value. Otherwise, their transactions will start failing on "one-time" after Jan. 22, 2022. Through Jan. 22, 2022, the "one-time" value for billing cycle will be supported and will result in a software subscription's billing cycle being one payment for the full term. Following Jan. 22, 2022, values such as "Annual," "Triennial," and "Monthly" must be inputted for billing cycle, depending on partner needs and supported billing plans for the software subscriptions being purchased.

Software Subscription Term Duration

Beginning January 22, 2022, partners will need to specify a term for software subscriptions in addition to a billing plan. Until January 22, 2022, partners can purchase software subscriptions without including the term value. However, in alignment with the construction of new commerce transactions, starting January 22, 2022, partners will need to pass the term and billing cycle plan they intend to purchase and avoid hard-coded values.

Cancel a purchase

You can cancel a software purchase within 30 days of the purchase date. If you cancel within this first 30-day period, you won't be charged an early termination fee. After 30 days, you can no longer cancel a purchase. (See Note for key restrictions to this cancellation rule. To learn about what happens after you cancel a software purchase, see also Important note after these steps.)

Note

The following steps to cancel a purchase apply only to software that qualifies for cancellation within a specific cancellation window, such as within the first 30 days after purchase. These steps also do not apply to a SUSE Linux or RedHat software plan in Azure. At this time, you cannot cancel or exchange a SUSE or RedHat software plan. Learn more about using SUSE Linux or RedHat plans.

Use the following steps to cancel a purchase:

Note

You must be an Admin agent to cancel a purchase. The following steps describe how to cancel a purchase in the Partner Center dashboard. You can also do this using the Partner Center API.

  1. Before you start the cancellation process, make sure you have the following information:

    • The customer's name, tenant GUID, or domain name
    • The name of the product you want to cancel
    • The Order ID
  2. Sign in to the Partner Center dashboard, select the Customers tile, then choose a customer from the list.

  3. On the customer's details page, select Software to see the list of software purchased for the customer.

  4. Locate the software purchase you want to cancel, and then select Cancel. A dialog box will appear.

  5. From the Order number drop-down list, select the correct order ID number you want to cancel. (You can learn more information about an order or order ID number from the customer's Order history page.)

  6. Select the checkbox to acknowledge that you have read the Important message concerning cancellation. (Refer to the Important note below to learn more about what happens after you cancel a purchase.)

  7. Select Submit to cancel your purchase. If you want to cancel multiple orders for a customer, you'll need to perform Steps 4 through 6 again for each, unique order ID number.

When you attempt to cancel an order, Partner Center may also give you other information (that appears below the Order number drop-down list). This information can include:

  • How many days remain for you to cancel that particular order

  • Whether you've already passed the cancellation window and can no longer cancel the order

  • If we need more information about your cancellation request, you may be given a link to a customer support request form.

Important

After you cancel an order, a message confirming your cancellation will appear. There may be a delay of up to 15 minutes, however, before the cancellation appears on the Partner Center dashboard.

Post-cancellation details

After you cancel a purchase:

  • All related software keys and download links will be revoked. This revocation means you and your customer can no longer use the software keys and download links related to this purchase. You and your customer are responsible for discontinuing the use of all canceled software. You're also responsible for uninstalling the canceled software and removing any, related software downloads and links.

  • The canceled item will still appear on the customer's Software details page but the activation key won't be available.

  • A credit for the canceled order will appear on your next monthly invoice. Perpetual software will receive a 100% credit and software subscriptions will receive a prorated credit.

Submit a customer support request to cancel a purchase

If you tried to cancel a software purchase via Partner Center but were told to provide more information and fill out a customer support request form, these steps may help you:

  1. When you select the customer support request link from the Cancel purchase window, the Report a problem with Partner Center page will open.

  2. Under Details, in the Type of problem list, select CSP Purchase/Refund on behalf of customers.

  3. Fill in the Impact and Title fields.

  4. In the Description field, provide the following information:

    • The customer tenant GUID or domain name
    • Order ID or Subscription ID
    • Refund reason
    • Amount requested
  5. In the Contact field, enter your name, email address, and phone number.

  6. If you need to attach a file for any reason, select Add files. This step is optional.

  7. When you're finished, select Submit.

Next steps