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Microsoft PML

Microsoft PML

April 1, 2018
March 31, 2021

The Focused Education Provincial Microsoft Licensing (PML) Agreement delivers the Microsoft 365 A3 Solution (M365 A3), which gives all participants access a full suite of Microsoft online solutions, as well as the ability to use components on-premise where applicable.

The Microsoft PML Agreement is one of Focused Education’s most successful initiatives, offering members access to the latest Microsoft solutions at discounted consortium-level pricing.

What Products are Available?

Under this agreement, all participating members will have access to the M365 A3 suite, which includes the products outlined here

This is a 3 – year agreement, invoiced annually. Members who join in Year 1 must remain on the agreement for the full term. Members can join at other times but must commit to the remainder of the agreement from the date they join.

Focused Education has negotiated pre-set Counts for each of the 3 years of the agreement.

Additional Information

If your school or district is not on this agreement, please send Focused Education an email at as soon as possible and we will be in touch to explain the process.

  • Secretary Treasurers of Districts and Focused Education Contacts from participating independent schools have received Form A, Agreement to Participate via email. They have also received Form B, Designated Contract/Portal Administrator.
  • Upon returning your signed Form A and Form B to Focused Education, your District or school will receive a quote and then an invoice directly from Softchoice.
  • You will also receive an e-document directly from Microsoft, which serves as your organization’s unique M365 A3 license. This e-document MUST be executed before Softchoice will place your order.
  • These are Time Sensitive Documents and must be returned by the dates indicated on the forms in order to assure your inclusion in the agreement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in the M365 A3 package? Is it the same as E Desktop?

For a full list of what is included in M365, click here. M365 A3 essentially contains all of the solutions/functionality included in the E Desktop suite, including access to the latest versions of Office, Windows (including Win 10) and the Client Access Licenses (CALs) for most Microsoft servers, and also includes additional products like AADP, Intune and Minecraft Education.

Although this is a cloud-first package, subscribers can still use the solutions on-premise where applicable, keeping in mind that some components of the package are cloud-only solutions so obviously can’t be run on-premise.

Do we just get licenses for the number of users negotiated by Focused Education or can we use the M365 solution for all staff and students as in other years?

Districts/schools will pay for the number of licenses listed on their Commitment to Participate Form. Microsoft will provide transitional licenses for all other staff at no charge. All students remain covered at no additional charge.

We expect at the end of this 3-year term that Microsoft will be looking to convert all of those free M365 licenses to paid ones (except for students; they will remain free). Focused Education would, as always, negotiate strongly for that not to happen but, out of an abundance of caution, we do want to make you aware of the possibility.

If there are groups of users you can keep on the O365 A1 $0 license, you might want to consider doing that. Microsoft has been clear that the $0 M365 A3 licenses are transitional licenses and there is little doubt they’ll expect us to pay for all of them next time around.

If we do not join M365 A3 at the beginning of Year 1, could we still upgrade to it later or do we have to wait the full three years?

It is possible to join M365 A3 at annual anniversary dates (April 1st) and, in some cases, at other times in the year, with Microsoft approval. Please let us know when you want to join the M365 A3 agreement at and we will do our best to add you as soon as possible.

How did Focused Education derive the user counts for this agreement? Are these FTE counts or headcounts?

Focused Education negotiated a small (less than 3%) cost increase for Year 1 of the agreement. For years 2 and 3, there will be additional 3% increases to counts annually. The Year 1 counts were derived by dividing the negotiated Year 1 cost by the price obtained through a competitive RFP process. At this time, Focused Education and Microsoft have not agreed on a definition of a Knowledge Worker. These are neither FTEs nor headcounts; they are agreed-upon counts for the purposes of the current agreement.

Do I have to give Softchoice my counts for this license?

No. We have provided Softchoice with all counts for the full 3-year contract. Any changes to those counts must come from Focused Education. Members have already been provided with their counts for all three years of this agreement.

How quickly can I get the M365 A3 licenses in place?

That depends, in part, on how quickly you return your Form A: Commitment to Participate and Form B: Designated Contract/Portal Administrator. Once we have those, Microsoft will send an eAgreement directly to the designated contract/portal administrator. Until that eAgreement is executed, nothing else happens.

We expect the transition period to take 3 – 4 weeks, with most organizations in place by May 15th, 2018.

My staff have been having trouble accessing the Microsoft Home Use Program (HUP) since March 31. Is that because of the license change?

Yes. HUP expires with the master license and, this year, will only be reactivated when your organization has executed its unique license (the eAgreement) sent to you by Microsoft. Once you have done that, Softchoice will submit your order to Microsoft. It will take a few days for Microsoft to activate your license and process your Software Assurance Benefits, including HUP.

Realistically, HUP is likely to be unavailable to most Districts until April 30, 2018. If there are delays in submitting paperwork or elsewhere in the renewal process, it may take longer.

Questions About Other License Options

What would be the price if my district wanted to buy Microsoft 365 A5, instead of A3?

Focused Education did not ask for M365 A5 pricing during the RFP process as we were looking for the package that best meets the needs of all members. Softchoice can provide you a quote for M365 A5 if you wish. However, Districts are reminded that the Level D pricing provided to Focused Education for its membership applies only to M365 A3 and was a unique exception made by Microsoft because we aggregated the counts of all our members.

If your District or school chooses to go with M365 A5 instead, you will pay Level A pricing which is significantly higher than Level D. Your District might be better served by choosing A3 for the whole District and stepping up to A5 for select groups who might need the added functionality in A5.

Is buying Office alone still an option for Independent Schools?

Yes, it is. Focused Education did ask for pricing for Office as a stand-alone option. Information on Office-only options will be sent to independent schools shortly. In some cases, schools do not meet the 25-user minimum required by Microsoft to access Focused Education pricing but we will work with Softchoice to get the best possible solution for each member.

Where Can I Get More Information?

For a full list of components included in M365 A3, click here.

For clarification on the components or to clarify the license process, email

For pricing information and further information about this agreement please contact Focused Education at 604-713-5920 or by email at