A SharePoint Licensing Primer
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SharePoint's licensing structure has always been complicated, and with new variants and options, SharePoint 2010 is no exception. Moreover, with the advent of BPOS and its successor Office 365, you have recourse to new deployment options with distinct licensing models.
Depending on which version of SharePoint you deploy, the licensing cost can range from nearly zero to hundreds of dollars per seat. This is because Microsoft sells several versions of SharePoint, but each version is packaged with different capabilities and licensing schemes. If you don’t understand the varieties, you'll only get half the story.
As a buyer, in order to budget for SharePoint accurately, you need to assess the various levels and deployment options carefully.