One of my early tasks as a network administrator was to track software license usage. We used to purchase hundreds of copies of WordPerfect and other software, which allowed us to concurrently connect users. However since we always had more users than software, we had to track usage, provide reports to the bean counters, even lock people out if all licenses were in use.
Over time things changed, we realized that this was a headache, there were too many ways around tracking mechanisms, and it became more economical for many companies to just buy a copy of the software for each employee. And many vendors realize that they needed to work with companies as partners rather than as potential pirates.
Apparently Microsoft is forgetting this and treating their customers as pirates. And CIOs have had enough, wanting smoother and easier ways to both license software and ensure compliance.
When I was a kid, I had an Apple II clone and spent many hours entertaining myself on that computer with all sorts of games and programming tasks. At a time when hacking was considered something of a sport, and lacking the funds to purchase all of my own games, a number of us young geeks learned how to bypass copy protections for many games. Often this involved hex editing a copy of the game to bypass some check and allow the game to run.
It wasn't right, and I was acting like a pirate, and deserved prosecution if I was caught. Many companies since then have realized that while people deserve prosecution for piracy, they can benefit more by working with customers and meeting their needs than just implementing strong protections and assuming every customer is a pirate.
Microsoft is in a tough place here. They want to ensure customers are licensed, but they also don't want to anger people. There are probably lots of companies that think they're in compliance, and have paid Microsoft a lot of money already, and really don't want to hear they need to fork over more to get into compliance.
They would do well to give some amnesty to those customers out there making honest mistakes. Especially at Christmas time right now.
I think they also ought to consider better volume terms for everyone, including test licenses, and other practices that might lower their revenue, but show that they value customers enough to not squeeze every last dollar out of their budgets.
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