Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Licensing Highlights

Although Dynamics CRM licensing is not my forte or passion, I still like to understand the basics.  Given that, I recently spent some time reading through the December 2014 version of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Licensing and Pricing Guide and wanted to share a few highlights that I found of interest. 

One item that caught my attention was the definition associated with Internal and External for CRM Online User Subscription Licensing (USL) and how the licensing is handled.  External, third-party users do not require a license.  They are included in Online subscriptions.  Third party users are those who do not use CRM client applications, are not employees or employees of a company affiliate, are not onsite contractors, vendors or individuals performing business processes on the company’s behalf.  There is a nice graphic in the document that provides further definition:


Additionally, a single USL allows a user to access all Dynamics CRM instances associated with a Online Tenant.  That means that if you use CRM Online non-production (sandbox) instances, users in your production environment have licensing privileges to those instances and do not have to purchase additional licenses.   An important thing to keep in mind is that Online sandbox instances do not have separate storage capacity.   Your non-production instances will consume storage from the same storage as your production.  You’ll want to ensure you plan for that as you roll out your online sandbox deployments. 

Each USL not only allows the associated user to access all other CRM Online production instances in the same tenant but also non-production instances in the same tenant and a CRM OnPremise instance owned by the same company / organization.  That means that if you subscribe to CRM Online, you can purchase a CRM OnPremise server license and your Online users do not need to purchase a Client Access License (CAL).  This is a nice benefit for those companies who have the need to use an Online / OnPremise hybrid deployment scenario. 

While there are three CAL type licenses (Essential, Basic and Professional), there are four USL licenses available: Essential, Basic, Professional, and Enterprise.  There is a good summary description of each license type on pages 6- 8 and a detailed chart of privileges on page 24 – 25. I’ve had some ask me for a use case for the Essential license type and I’ve explained that it is of value for XRM type solutions where only custom entities are used.

Microsoft has ramped up its offering with Dynamics Marketing, Parature, Social Listening, and Unified Service Desk.  Check out pages 8 and 9 for information on the pricing requirements for each service offering. 

Not only are there four levels of license types but there are also four levels of support offerings: Subscription, Enhanced Support, Professional Direct Services, and Premier Services.  Subscription level service is included with each license purchased and also included with trial licenses.  Each level beyond that has an associated cost and benefit.  Page 15 has a good summary of benefits to include the cost for each type.

There is additional information in the guide to include but not limited to Stepping up to higher support plans for existing customers, International Pricelist, different types of Licensing programs like Volume licensing and their related programs, pricing associated with transitioning to the cloud, etc. 

I hope you found this helpful.  In the event that you have licensing questions or need assistance, please reach out to your Microsoft Partner or Microsoft Account Representative.

 Big Disclaimer:  This is my personal interpretation of the document.  You should check with your Microsoft licensing professional to address all Dynamics CRM licensing questions.



  1. Donna-
    Thanks for the additional detail, but even the detail in the appendix on page 24 still leaves me scratching my head. For example, Basic has the right to associate an opportunity with an account but does not have the right for “Opportunity tracking”.
    Many of the “use rights” listed don’t translate to a CRM security right, I can’t be the only one who is confused. Can you provide any clarification, or point me in the right direction?

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