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Navigating Microsoft's Latest Programme Changes

Microsoft Programme Changes FAQ

You may have already seen the news that Microsoft is changing its offers for nonprofits and libraries, beginning April 2022. Here’s a quick rundown of what that means, as well as answers to some of your questions.

What does this Microsoft announcement mean?

In simple terms, Microsoft will no longer offer donated licenses of most of its traditional “on-premises” products as of April 4, 2022. On-premises products are those for which you pay once, download the product, and use it for as long as you want if you abide by the license terms.

Microsoft will continue to offer discounted on-premises products through TechSoup. These discounted products do cost a bit more than the donated licenses, but you can request an unlimited quantity of them.

Microsoft will also offer donated and discounted cloud subscriptions to eligible nonprofits through TechSoup. These include its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans, as well as subscriptions for services like Power Apps and Power BI. Many of these plans include downloadable versions of the software that you can use for as long as you subscribe.

There are a few exceptions:

  • You will still be able to request donated Windows Pro licenses through TechSoup.
  • If you require on-premises licenses for public-access computers, you will still be able to request donated licenses of select Microsoft products for those computers.
  • If you are in a country where Microsoft Azure is not available, you will be able to request donated Microsoft server products.

What’s the difference between on-premises and cloud licenses?

“On-premises” refers to the traditional method of paying for software. You pay for a license once and then download the software. You can then continue to use the software for as long as you abide by the license agreement.

TechSoup currently offers two kinds of on-premises license options: donated and discounted.

Microsoft cloud subscriptions are the subscription-based versions of Microsoft’s offerings. You renew these on a yearly basis, and you may continue using them for as long as you subscribe. TechSoup offers eligible nonprofits a variety of discounted and donated cloud subscription options, and you may mix or match your subscriptions to fit your needs.

What’s the difference between donated and discounted on-premises Microsoft licenses?

Donated on-premises products are provided as a donation from Microsoft, but you pay TechSoup a small administrative fee when you request them. This fee helps support our programs for nonprofits and libraries.

You may currently request up to 50 of most donated licenses within two years of your initial request; this product allotment resets after the two years are up. These products are denoted by a “Donation” badge in our catalog. The majority of these license options will no longer be available beginning April 2022.

Discounted on-premises products cost a bit more compared to the donated products, but they still represent a savings of up to 75 percent compared to retail pricing. You may request unlimited quantities of these licenses through TechSoup. These products are denoted by a “Discount” badge in our catalog. Discounted Microsoft products will continue to be available through TechSoup beyond April 2022.

Can I still get downloadable versions of Office through TechSoup?

Yes. Microsoft will continue to offer traditional downloadable “pay once, use forever” on-premises products to organizations that need them. You will be able to get them at a significant discount compared to retail pricing, and you can request an unlimited quantity of these licenses through TechSoup.

In addition, many Microsoft 365 and Office 365 cloud subscription plans include access to versions of Office that you can download and install on up to five computers or mobile devices that you use or own. You can use this software for as long as your Microsoft 365 or Office 365 plan is active.

Do I need to be connected to the Internet to use Microsoft’s cloud products?

Not necessarily. While some of Microsoft’s cloud services — like OneDrive or Microsoft Teams — require an Internet connection to use to their fullest capacity, many of Microsoft’s cloud-enabled products work well offline.

For example, many Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans include downloadable versions of the Office apps that you already use. This means that you can download and install apps like Microsoft Word and Excel and use them as you normally do, even if you’re disconnected from the Internet.

When you reconnect to the Internet, your Office apps will simply check in with Microsoft to make sure your subscription is current.

How does this change affect my current licenses?

If you purchased a traditional version of a Microsoft product that is not subscription based, your license is valid in perpetuity, as long as you don’t violate the license terms. That means that you can continue using your existing licenses for as long as you want.

This change also does not impact existing Microsoft cloud subscriptions.

I need Office for my public-access computers. Microsoft’s cloud offers aren’t an option. What can I do?

Nonprofits may continue to request both donated and discounted on-premises products through TechSoup beyond April 2022, as long as those products are only for use on public-access computers. This is the only exception to the new policies from Microsoft.

Our nonprofit already has Microsoft cloud subscriptions. How does this change affect us?

This change does not impact existing Microsoft cloud subscriptions.

What does this mean for libraries?

Libraries can continue to request on-premises products for public-access computers through TechSoup until December 31, 2021. We are actively working with the Microsoft Education team to ensure continuity of the program offers beyond this date to support public-access computers. We expect to have more details to share soon. Once we do, we will update this FAQ with additional details.

Which Microsoft cloud solution is right for my nonprofit?

TechSoup has a number of resources dedicated to helping organizations decide which Microsoft cloud solutions are right for them and making it easier to adopt these solutions.

What free cloud solutions exist for my organization?

Microsoft grants nonprofits a limited number of free Microsoft 365 Business Premium licenses. These licenses offer online and downloadable versions of Office apps such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Some stipulations apply to your usage of these licenses. For example, you need to meet a minimum usage level (PDF) in order to continue to receive these granted licenses. But they may be a good option for small organizations.

In addition, Microsoft offers free Microsoft 365 Business Basic licenses that let you use the online versions of the Office apps mentioned above. These plans also include 1 TB of online storage, email, instant messaging, and HD video and audio conferencing. Since these are web apps, you will need an active Internet connection to use them.

Other options also exist, such as Google Workspace for Nonprofits. But like the Microsoft 365 Business Basic licenses, Google Workspace does require an active Internet connection to use. Apple’s free iWork apps are an option for Mac, iPhone, or iPad users.

I don’t want to move to the cloud. What are my alternatives?

If you don’t want to move to a Microsoft cloud subscription, you have a few options.

  • You can continue to use your existing Microsoft product licenses.
  • You can request additional discounted licenses through TechSoup.
  • You can explore alternatives, such as OpenOffice. If you use Apple devices, Apple’s free iWork apps are an option.

What are other solutions that TechSoup offers?

The TechSoup product catalog includes the following alternatives to Microsoft’s products.

Productivity suites

  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits (formerly G Suite)
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro DC: Document creation and distribution
  • Asana: Project and work management
  • DocuSign: E-signature solutions
  • Slack: Workplace messaging and collaboration
  • Workplace from Facebook: Workplace messaging and collaboration
  • Zoom: Video and audio conferencing

Cloud file storage

  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive (part of Google Workspace)


  • Bitdefender: Antivirus and security
  • NortonLifeLock: Antivirus, security, and system utilities
  • Veritas: Data backup and recovery

I still have questions. Who can I contact for help?

TechSoup’s Customer Service team is here to answer your questions, to help you understand how this change will impact your nonprofit, and to provide guidance as you make the move. Email us at techsoup@phambano.org.za

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