One of my go-to guys for Windows-related news and analysis is Ed Bott, whose “Ed Bott Report” over at ZDNet is usually a goldmine of interesting and useful Windows information, particularly for IT professionals who work in enterprises and large organizations on Windows platforms. He’s been reporting on recent hoopla and consternation surrounding Microsoft Office 2013 licensing lately in a series of stories: first came “Big Changes in Office 2013 and Office 365 test Microsoft customers’ loyalty” on February 15, followed more recently by “Microsoft’s attempts to clarify Office licensing policies fall short” on February 23.
The source for the ongoing flap relates to what Bott describes as Microsoft “no transfer” policy for Office 2013 (which means that each license is associated with a particular PC, so if you decommission an older PC running Office 2013, and seek to install the program on a newer replacement PC, you’d theoretically be required to purchase a new license for that replacement machine). In fact, Bott cites information about a Los Angeles-based company that paid the BSA (Business Software Alliance, a software industry trade group that focuses on license compliance at US companies, and regularly floods major metro areas all over the country with demand letters requiring companies to prove all their licenses are fully paid-up, or make good on any shortfalls, oversights, or omissions) $137.5 K in 2012 to settle licensing issues for MS software — presumably, including Office — with that group.
Bott raises the spectre that an inability to prove that original Office licenses can’t be produced to prove coverage of earlier, less restrictive license coverage could lead to future liabilities, even for companies covered by volume purchase or enterprise licensing agreements (which would have to have expired at the time of enforcement for there to be any legal problems, because otherwise companies and organizations essentially pay for some maximum or arbitrary number of licenses and are covered for all machines and all users that fall under the agreement’s terms). This is potentially much more onerous to smaller companies or organizations that may not be covered by some kind of ongoing agreement with Microsoft, but still an interesting concern for even the biggest of Microsoft customers.
Sheesh, it’s always something, right?