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Microsoft Licensing Considerations

Generally when purchasing new software online, or upgrading existing software, a box pops up on the computer that says “Agree to Terms”.  Most people simply check the appropriate box and click next without reading the fine print.  This can be troublesome when the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents major software companies such as Microsoft, decides to conduct an audit of software licenses.

The Microsoft Licensing Agreement is a complex document.  Properly reading and understanding the type of license granted by Microsoft is important.  Some licenses may allow installation on two computers as long as they are not used concurrently.  Other licensing agreements allow users to install a backup or archive copy of the software on another computer.  Knowing the difference between OEM, retail, or open licenses enables the user to operate within the confines of the license agreement.

Moreover, with regard to Microsoft server products such as Exchange, SQL Server and Windows Server, businesses are facing a greater demand for remote access capabilities to enable individuals to work outside the office.  Accessing a network and software remotely by VPN may require a Windows Server CAL and a Terminal Services CAL license in addition to the proper license for each installation of software on the computers on the network.

If you believe you have a good grasp on Microsoft licensing terms and requirements, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney with experience in software licensing matters to help ensure compliance and avoid the exposure that can be associated with the BSA and other audit engagements.