This question keeps reaching us, so here is the answer. In short: NO. But it needs some explanation to be understood.

CAL is a Microsoft acronym for a Client Access License. Most know for the Windows CAL, which gives a person or a device the right to access a Windows Server. Within a Microsoft contract which is based on standardization, such as the Enterprise Enrollment or the Open Value Agreement there are CAL Suites. The CAL Suite is a bundle of client access licenses for several servers, such as Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Skype for Business … and so on.
Within the aforementioned agreements customers choose to pay their license with a three year spread payment and it comes – default – with Software Assurance (SA). SA is the protection of your investment in Microsoft technology, it has 28 ‘benefits’. One of those is what is known as ‘the right to a new version’. In fact, SA says that any current version will be replaced with the new version automatically, but due to downgrade rights customers are allowed to use previous versions. So far for that fact, otherwise we will make it unnecessary complicated in giving you the answer to the question: ‘Does a Microsoft Bridge CAL have perpetual rights after Software Assurance Expires?’.

The CAL Suite is has no version, due to SA and the right to various products it is always current. At the moment your contract with SA expires you have the right to keep using the separate CAL licenses for the server products at the ‘then current’ version. Example, you choose the Core CAL Suite in your contract in 2014. At that time Windows Server 2012 R2 was current. Now there is Windows Server 2016. When your SA expires in 2017 you are allowed to keep using Windows CAL User / Device 2016 (depending on your previous choice for Core CAL Suite per user or per device).

When you follow the same thoughts for the Bridge CAL, that is where things go wrong. The Bridge CAL for Office365 and the Bridge CAL for EMS are both ‘subscriptions’. Yes, you do have the Windows CAL, or the SharePoint CAL and so on included. But … they are subscription based. We can read this in the Microsoft price list. Here is the full description (as an example): Microsoft®CoreCALBridgeforOffice365 Sngl MonthlySubscriptions-VolumeLicense OLV 1License NoLevel AdditionalProduct PerUsr 1Month.

Here is screenshot of the price list (Enterprise Agreement):

Microsoft EA price list screenshot

Furthermore we can read in the Online Subscription Terms, which are an integrated part of the Agreement you signed with Microsoft when you use cloud services:

Microsoft Online Service definition

Hence, the Bridge CAL is a subscription. Like any other Microsoft subscription, like Office365, Enterprise Mobility & Security, Azure Services and many more, the right to use the technology ends the day you end the subscription.
So, when your Agreement – and with that your Software Assurance rights – end, so does the right to use the Bridge CAL in any form. No perpetual rights there.

Thoughts, feedback, suggestions for improvement? Please let us know. We are here to help you.

Marcel Maul
Storm Rohnstrom
Peter van Uden

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