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I constantly run across situations where users don’t understand the license requirements of the software they have bought or “borrowed”. The basics of licensing are pretty straight forward although the variations from the likes of Microsoft can certainly confuse even an IT Consultant. The simplest way of addressing this is to just remember you need a license for each piece of software running on each PC. There are of course variations on this rule of thumb as Microsoft and others have multiple licensing models and programs but to confuse the process even more there are classes of licenses which can only be used in a certain way or by certain end users.

One of the most misunderstood software licenses is probably Microsoft Office Home and Student. This is understandable in that this version of Office 2007 breaks the basic rule I set forth above. First off the EULA, End User License Agreement, states you can install Office on three devices (I won’t go into what qualifies as a device) instead of installing on one PC. Second there is a “use” clause which states this software may not be used for “commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating business activities.” So even if you have a legal copy of Office you may not be legally allowed to use it depending on what your planned use is.

Further confusing the issue are various programs end users may be a part of which gives them access to software licenses. From Open Licenses to Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) these programs may give you access to install, use, and transfer software and based on which program the user is a member of. Other software vendors have similar programs including subscriptions models such as antivirus companies with yearly support or maintenance fees. Most of these programs have very strict rules on who can use the program, how the program can be used and how the software can be installed on what devices.

As an example of misuse by a program member and what would be a unlicensed use by the end user I happened across this post on CraigsList.com where a MSDN member is selling copies of his program software. First and foremost this is a violation of his program membership however the bigger concern would be any end user who paid for this software thinking that they had a legal right to use it. MSDN is a subscription service for Microsoft Developer’s to have access to software for development and testing purposes. during the subscription period. This means if you bought a copy of this software and installed it you would be a pirate, an illegal user and subject to as much as $150,000.00 per unlicensed use no matter that the seller of the software made any representations as to the legal status of the software.

I have a MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) Account I will sell the following software copies to any who are interested
Windows XP Pro $25
Windows Vista Business SP1 $40
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 $50
Microsoft Office Pro 2007 $35 ($20 if you can provide a legal student email address) it must end in (.edu)
CASH ONLY
any questions just email me [email protected]
Again these are all legal copies and will pass Microsoft activation.
They have to be picked up in Mount Airy or we can work out a meeting arrangement. I will NOT mail these out or deal with anyone not from North Carolina ..dont bother ..too many fake email scams!

So the next time you need a copy of software for home of business you may be well served to contact your IT Consultant or the software vendor. Microsoft maintains a support line just for license questions, (800) 426-9400.

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