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Microsoft Company Store Restricts Terms of Use, Leads to Licensing Confusion

Microsoft offers its employees an opportunity to buy discounted software if they agree to restrictive usage terms when purchasing from the Microsoft Company Store. In addition to the online Microsoft Company Store, employees may go to one of a few different physical locations, including one near the Microsoft campus visitor center. The Microsoft Company Store is separate and distinct from the online Microsoft Store, which is aimed at the general public.

The Microsoft End User License Agreement (“EULA”) outlines terms controlling the use of each of its products. Many of its products allow commercial use in a business setting. Although anyone can go to the Microsoft Company Store, only Microsoft employees are allowed to purchase discounted Microsoft software. These products sold to Microsoft employees are specifically restricted from use in a commercial setting, limiting usage to personal only.

Although it is unlikely that the general public could accidentally purchase software from the Company Store, some users are confused by the non-commercial restrictions for software purchased at the “Microsoft Store.”  Additionally, Microsoft employees should be cognizant of potential licensing pitfalls if attempting to use any of the software in a commercial setting or if they buy software for their friends and relatives to use in a corporate setting.  The terms of use on the products sold explicitly prevent commercial use.

Software licensing is a complex issue that may cause complications for consumers or businesses seeking to properly comply with licensing terms. If you are facing a copyright infringement claim from a software publisher, or simply seek information related to software compliance and licensing, you should contact experienced counsel to assist you with evaluating your rights.