Microsoft software FAQ

What’s the deal?

Individual members and organisations within the Uniting Church in Australia can purchase Microsoft software products at significantly reduced pricing levels. The details and process of this Microsoft “Open Charity” program are provided on this web page, and pricing levels are generally accurate. It is necessary to correctly apply the GST, and to track who receives software pricing, both with regard to the Microsoft license program with the Uniting Church, and due to periodic pricing changes. This is not the way everyone will choose to buy Microsoft software (see Disadvatages on the Information form). cannot provide support for these products in any way, and acts only as an agent to provide “Open Charity” pricing on Microsoft software for Uniting Church members and organisations.

Who can purchase?

Uniting Church congregations, ministers and members can purchase Microsoft products through this agreement, for use in conducting the mission or ‘business’ of the Church. The order form includes a signed statement that identifies the location of membership or position within the Church, and is necessary to legitimate license purchases. Software should not be purchased by Church members for use in commercial or other contexts not associated with the Uniting Church in Australia.

What can be purchased?

An extensive range of Microsoft software can be purchased through this arrangement. Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows are the most commonly purchased items. Microsoft games and MS Money are not available under this program. Enquire about special retail packs such as Microsoft Office Small Business Edition if you already know what you want.

What do you get?

Purchase of Microsoft software through the ‘Open Charity’ licensing program in not the same as purchasing normal retail products from an everyday Microsoft retailer. Retail packages include licenses, media, and documentation. Software packages purchased through the ‘Open Charity’ program do not include manuals or other documentation. Manuals are widely available through many bookstores: the “Dummies” and “Complete Idiots” guides are a helpful series, as are those from Microsoft Press and other commercial publishers. To be very clear, software purchased through this program is only available on CD/DVD, not for immediate download (virtual or electronic fulfilment). What you purchase are the rights to legally use the program on your computer.

What is ‘Licence-only’ Pricing?

‘Licence-only’ pricing is the most basic way you can purchase through the ‘Open Charity’ agreement, and includes only a legal licence from Microsoft that entitles the user to install and use the specified software on a single computer. ‘Licence-only’ does not include media (CD/DVD), since a single copy of the media can be shared between several computers if licenses are bought for each. ‘Licence-only’ does not include manuals or other documentation. Listed licence prices are inclusive of GST.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Advantages: the advantage of the Microsoft ‘Open Charity’ licensing program is that pricing is currently less than half of the standard retail price. This is of particular benefit to individuals, or bodies or groups that need to purchase software licences for multiple computers (Microsoft’s software licences usually require that a separate licence is held for every computer on which software is installed).

Disadvantages: the major disadvantage of the Microsoft ‘Open Charity’ licensing program is that the package provided is not the same as retail packages: it only includes a license to run the software, and media (CD/DVD). An additional disadvantage is that support from Microsoft is not very comprehensive. Software support queries should be directed to the Microsoft support available on the Internet ( is a good starting point). Microsoft will only  provide assistance via telephone through their technical support services (phone 13 20 58) if a professional support contract is purchased.

How is purchase arranged?

Enter your licensee details using the online form, then on the Office or Windows pages click on the relevant “Add to cart” buttons to select products you require, and complete payment through PayPal. Although PayPal may encourage you to use a PayPal account, you can equally just use a normal credit card to pay securely through PayPal—look for the “don’t have a PayPal account” link.

When payment has been received, we send any media (CDs or DVDs) to you by post, along with any product keys or authorisation keys required to install and use the software.

Microsoft license and authorisation numbers for the particular licenses purchased on your behalf are retained by in a ‘master license register’, and can be supplied if required. These numbers are not required to install and use the software.

What about GST?

All pricing listed is inclusive of GST. Payment from ministers and members must include GST on any purchase. Payments from agencies or congregations that are registered members of the Uniting Church GST Religious Group must still pay the GST component, but this can generally be claimed back using a tax invoice/receipt, which can be provided on request.

What is Software Assurance? (SA)

Microsoft’s licensing approach includes a ‘rental’ model in addition to the traditional ‘purchase’ model for software. Software Assurance (SA) has replaced Upgrade Advantage (UA), and requires customers to pay an annual fee to continue using the software. The advantage is that any software version upgrades and patches released will be available for no extra cost. License & Software Assurance (L&SA) purchases are now available.

This approach will likely benefit organisations or individuals who regularly upgrade their software, and will provide Microsoft with a more consistent income stream. The pricing levels for the L&SA licensing are aimed to encourage people to ‘rent’ their software rather than purchase the Full License product.

However, many in the church don’t need to upgrade their software that regularly. In many cases, it will be cheaper for Uniting Church people and organisations to purchase the Full License product rather than L&SA, given the ongoing cost of Software Assurance. Once your initial Software Assurance license expires, you’ll have to pay Microsoft just to keep using the software …