Friday, 9 September 2011

How Many Software Licences Do You Really Need?

Recently my wife received a call from some foreign chap who told her he was calling from Microsoft Support and that he had detected a problem with her PC. He could take control and then solve it, she just needed to click on some link. Rightly, she said her husband deals with things like that so call back - at which point the chap became abusive and then read out our address and told her 'he would be visiting her.'

It was a nightmare scenario that left her in tears and when I mentioned it to a senior Microsoft Manager he sympathised but wondered whether the chap had a legitimate licence to use Microsoft software - I was more concerned how he had got hold of our registration details. A bizarre answer but understandable, I suppose.

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a big business. More companies are auditing their licence base to understand if they are compliant for Governance purposes in the main but many are finding large savings in the process as they find they have way too many or can identify ways to save costs. Nice.

Meanwhile, vendors do 'true ups' every few years to make up the difference they haven't charged for in enterprises - it's a scenario that is thankfully solved if you move to The Cloud but that's another story.

But here's a thought. Over the years, I cannot tell you how many PCs I have bought and licences for MS operating systems and other software. Most of these get trashed and wasted when you upgrade your hardware - we waste licences to use software all the time and consumers actually are the hardest hit as corporates at least can negotiate.

The fact is that in the last 5 years I have bought at least 6 licences to run MS Windows operating systems but at any time in that period I have only ever used one at any time. Why is the licence itself not portable? Software is actually not that hard to replicate or costly to download. Why am I paying so much money all the time?

Think about that in your own context and you might even start to cotton on that piracy is in fact what software vendors do to good users. Every new PC we buy, we buy another software licence. Some of us can keep some of the applications to use again but if you buy MS Office 365 you get Office 2010 for a PC - what happens if you want to use an Apple Mac? You buy a new licence again.

So in my eyes, software vendors really are quite well off after all. If most households update their hardware say every 5 years then operating system licences are renewed which offsets the piracy elsewhere in the world. And let's be honest, Microsoft and others aren't exactly in need of profits, are they? Even the owner is trying to give all his away.

My point to large companies is go and audit your licence base - you will be surprised at what you might save then go to the Cloud and don't let it happen again. Then take a long hard look at all those PCs you destroy and ask the vendors if you can have some money back on unused licences - after all it says in their T's & C's these are 'Perpetual Licences'.

Food for thought, at least.

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