Microsoft Adds "Advanced Communication" License That Teams Users Need On Top of Existing Commercial Licenses to Use Recent Meetings & API Features

At Microsoft Inspire 2020, Microsoft noted that it will be adding a new user license for some select meeting and calling features called "Advanced Communication" license. This license will be additive to existing commercial licenses (like E5).

Some of the types of features that will require the "Advanced Communication" license noted at Inspire 2020 are:

  • Large meetings
  • Customized lobby controls
  • Compliance / policy call recording
  • Etc.
Angela Donohue, in session IDB151 noted the license would be available later this month.

Update: Microsoft has now communicated more granularity[1] on what will be included with the "Advanced Communications" license:

  • Released at launch
    • Live event limits to 20k participant (50 concurrent, 16 hours)
    • Compliance Recording integration (ISV)
    • Contact Center solution integration (ISV)
  • Released later in CY2020
    • 1000 person interactive Teams meeting
    • Interactive meetings for 1000 participants with the capability to enabled up to 20,000 in a 'view only' meeting
    • Custom branded meeting lobby
  • Beyond
    • Additional customizations, tool and communications enhancements will be added to the SKU throughout the calendar year

Some Questions We Had

I had a chance to chat with a person at Microsoft who answered some of my questions related to "Advanced Communications":

Q. Will "Resource Accounts", used to call auto attendants and call queues require the "Advanced Communication" license?
A. No, "Advanced Communication" license is just a user license and resource accounts will not be changed.

Q. Do Teams Apps or Bot require this license?
A. No.

Q. What features will all need the "Advanced Communication" license?
A. [still collecting the exactly list of what features will require the new license...]

Q. Cost?
A. The "Advanced Communication" license will be available on August 1, 2020. A 60-90 day trial license will be available on August 1. All commercial  licenses can have this added to it, and at this time no license includes it. The license will be $12 per user per month. EDU licensing is $2.50 per user per month.

Some Comments on this change

For users who do not need to advanced meeting features, but need compliance recording, the net effect is paying for usage of the Microsoft Graph API's, and in the case of call recording, a license that costs more than call recording vendors typically charge per user. It is also somewhat unusual for Microsoft to charge for using Graph API's. I am not aware of other products like Exchange, SharePoint or Azure charging to use Graph API to interact with a product a user is already licensed for. Also, in the industry, as already noted, vendors like Zoom include REST API's in their lowest tier user pricing. This could seem like Microsoft is not incentivizing ISV's to build their solutions on the Microsoft communication platform, which is almost certainly not the effect Microsoft is wanting to achieve. 

In Conclusion

Covid19 has been putting pressure on Microsoft to add some features. Microsoft Teams has indeed been receiving a tsunami of features recently. It seems the "Advanced Communication" license may be an effort by Microsoft to recoup some of the costs going into adding these features, and question is if this should be passed on to the customer.

[1] Microsoft "Advanced Communication FAQ"