Microsoft’s revealed a new way to buy Windows Server and SQL Server – a subscription offer tied to Azure.

The new offer is tied to Azure Reserved Instances plan that Redmond announced last year, under which you can pay up-front for one or three years of Azure servers. As of July 10th, Reserved Instances are alive and breathing.

And so are the new subscriptions that the fine folk at Licensing School rate “the most cost-effective way to license predictable Windows and SQL Server workloads in Azure.”

Critically, the subs come with the “Azure Hybrid Benefit”, a licencing tweak that allowed Software Assurance signatories to use their licences on-prem or in Azure, thereby saving quite a bit of dosh. Bringing the same benefit to the subs is the first time the Hybrid Benefit has been offered beyond Software Assurance Deals.

It’s not hard to see why Microsoft has extended the benefit: the new subs are for one or three years with cash up front.

The subs are sold by Redmond’s Cloud Solution Providers so most of the details are reg-walled for partners. But The Register has managed to get its claws on the Azure Reserved Instances Sales Sheet (PDF), which tells us that the subs will include

Windows Server Standard Core licenses in eight-packs, Windows Server User and Device CALs and Windows Server RMS User and Device CALs. SQL Server subs will cover two-core packs for SQL Server Standard Core and SQL Enterprise Standard Core.

Azure reserved instances sales sheet pricing

Microsoft’s claimed savings from its new SQL Server and Windows Server subscriptions

Microsoft’s billed the new subs as “better enabling partners to grow their cloud solution practice by employing low-cost Azure VMs & server software to target and win more persistent cloud workloads.”

Redmond reckons they’re also “a simple, partner-friendly commercial model that established a strong anchor point for highly profitable growth.”

Or in other words, an offer that will put cash in partners’ pockets and therefore a plan they’ll sell hard.

As we noted when reporting the launch of Reserved Instances, they come with a generous refund scheme that should ease fears of lock-in. But Microsoft’s also clearly creating offers that make it more likely you’ll at least consider its cloud, if not embrace it enthusiastically. ®

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