Microsoft licensing row - is the customer always right...

...or just confused?
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

...or just confused?

The complexity of software licences is something that continues to plague IT departments the length and breadth of the country, and it's not just something that Microsoft is guilty of. But at a time when the big software companies, backed by the anti-piracy police of the Business Software Alliance and the Federation Against Software Theft, are banging on about getting tough with companies who aren't licensed correctly it is, quite frankly, a bit galling for the IT manager trying to decipher firstly which agreement is right for them and then what the rules are. It's not surprising that readers such as the IT buyer at an NHS Trust contact us and complain they are being charged twice for Microsoft licences because hardware manufacturers pre-install operating systems on PCs. silicon.com was able to clear that one up fairly easily but there's a whole raft of other equally baffling nuances in the T&Cs of most agreements. It also works against Microsoft, who is trying to win back the hearts and minds of customers after the way it handled the controversial changes to its volume licensing schemes last year. More clarification, education and support are needed for both resellers and business customers to clear up the fog of software licensing. The industry seems to be taking more of a 'stick' approach at the moment, when perhaps a 'carrot' is what is called for. It's not that the likes of the BSA and FAST shouldn't throw the book at customers who deliberately and openly flout the law by using counterfeit and unlicensed software but many users are just genuinely confused and uncertain about how compliant they are. And when requests to the big vendors are met with threats of prosecution and 'naming and shaming' it is not an attitude that is going to encourage co-operation.
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