The Sunset of Microsoft's A1 Plus Licenses: What You Need to Know

Posted By: Crystal Ibarra CITE News,

As the digital landscape evolves, so too do the tools and services that support it. In a significant shift for educational institutions, Microsoft has announced the retirement of the Office 365 A1 Plus program. This change marks the end of an era for a service that has been a cornerstone for schools in their journey to the cloud. CITE, Microsoft and Softchoice staff are all here to assist and support you through this transition.

Background of Office 365 A1 Plus

Introduced in 2015, the Office 365 A1 Plus program was designed to alleviate the IT provisioning burden for educational institutions transitioning to cloud-based services. It offered a free Office subscription that included desktop apps for schools that purchased Office institution-wide for a faculty and staff. However, this well-intended program inadvertently introduced complexity and compliance issues for customers. 

Retirement Date and Reasons

The official retirement date for the Office 365 A1 Plus program is set for August 1, 2024. The decision to retire the program stems from the need to simplify the licensing process and address the compliance difficulties faced by institutions. Microsoft's newer offerings, Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses, are now easier to provision and align more closely with customer needs, eliminating the necessity for a transitional program.

Implications for School

Schools currently using Office 365 A1 Plus must plan for this transition. Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses offer a more streamlined approach to provisioning and come with additional benefits, included advanced security and analytics tools. Institutions can leverage these licenses at a student-to-faculty ratio of 40:1, providing ample coverage for student use.

Preparing for the Change

To manage the transition smoothly, IT administrators should: 

  • Check for Office A1 Plus licenses in their tenant.
  • Identify users with A1 Plus licenses.
  • Plan for license changes and decide which Microsoft license to assign once A1 Plus is retired.

The retirement of Office 365 A1 Plus is a pivotal moment for educational institutions. It's an opportunity to embrace the advanced capabilities of Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses, which promise to enhance the educational experience with their robust security and productivity tools. As August 1, 2024, approaches, schools must take proactive steps to ensure a seamless transition for their faculty and students.

If you are unsure if the retirement of A1 Plus licenses will affect your district, or you have general questions and need assistance, please contact your dedicated Softchoice representative or reach out to Additional support is available from the CITE & Microsoft Resource Program Account Executive Diana Simmons, and as always please feel free to reach out to CITE via our Resource Program Technician Crystal Ibarra at for additional support. The team is here to assist and support through this transition with Microsoft licensing.