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back to article Microsoft licence cops kick in TWICE as many customers' doors as rivals

Microsoft audited far more customers on software licensing than its rivals managed during 2012 - and Redmond is expected to turn the screws further over the next two years. Redmond’s compliance troops swooped on 51 per cent of enterprises and partners polled for the 2012 Software Pricing and Licensing Survey by IDC and sponsored …

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Holmes

Install Linux and let 'em come

Esp with the new Samba 4 fully supporting Active Directory.

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Stop

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

does simba 4 support Excel?

didn't think so.

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

I came here to say something similar, but you can just ditch Windows and move to a GNU/Linux. There will be a lot of custom code that would need ported, assuming it can even be ported, and there may be show-stopper applications that can only run on Windows.

It might be cheaper/easier to just cough for the fees, which should have been paid anyway!

And, of course, depending on the nature of you business use MS may not demand license fees for their OS but licenses for the use of their patents; regardless of OS you are using.

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

If by "support" you mean "provide network shares and other services that Excel could consume" then the answer AIUI is "Yes".

More to the point, Excel barely supports Excel at times!

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Linux

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

Excel is for those who don't know how to use database software.

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Meh

database software.

You're thinking of Access, not Excel.

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

i have server spreadsheets and client spreadsheets and all communication between client and server is done via email with request and response spreadsheets attached. An outlook plugin written in vbscript is installed at both ends and drives windows batch files which regenerate the server and client spreadsheets.

Will this run on linux?

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

No, but Libreoffice does.

btw - Simba is from the Lion King...

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Boffin

@ NomNomNom - Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

No, it doesn't support Excel, they are two completely different things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samba_(software)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Excel

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

No it won't

Congratulations, you have locked yourself into a single source solution.

Don't moan when they put their prices up, you have made your bed now sleep in it.

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JDX
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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

LibreOffice can open Excel documents but It doesn't support loads (any?) of the interop functionality.

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Linux

Re: database software.

"You're thinking of Access, not Excel" -- The same could be said of Access, but, I see Excel used where a database solution would be ideal too often. Just look at the complex shit NoNomNom is doing with server side and client side spreadsheets, I mean WTF? One web interface, one database behind it; Job Done.

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

Yes, you can save Excel files on Samba shares. As far as Excel is concerned, it is just another drive letter it can save to, and it doesn't care what software brings that drive letter into existence.

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Facepalm

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

Where I work, Excel is for those who don't know what the "Word" icon looks like.

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Anonymous Coward

Database?

95% of my customers use Excel to make tables, not for calculating spreadsheets. Excel's popularity may say more about Word's abysmal support for tables than about Excel's indispensability.

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

So outlook + vbScript are getting data from a database and recreating a spread sheet when the user opens the e-mail ... that don't sound likely because unless the recipient opens the e-mail immediately, the data in the spread sheet could be out of date.

Better solution would be to have a web page that gets and displays the data when the page is refreshed (auto or manual). No need to wait for someone to send an e-mail, you can check the data at any time.

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FAIL

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

@NomNomNom wow with that kludge for a solution you probably still think you are a professional developer don't you? Fail. On the bright side its people like you why outside consultants/contractors can make a good living coming in and cleaning up legacy messes.

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Mushroom

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

Openoffice anyone?

Microsoft resorted to various dubious if not outright corrupt practices, in order to get its own Office file formats accepted as an international standard (OpenXML) alongside the Openoffice ones. Otherwise, Openoffice users would have been able to kick back by saying that our odt files are ISO standard, and your [xls, doc, ppt]x ones are not!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standardization_of_Office_Open_XML

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Pint

Re: database software.

No, he's got a valid point.

Something like 99.44% (<- made up, probably about a third) of all MS-Excel files used in business are just being used as tables or "data bases".

Companies hit with huge settlement demands for innocent behaviour should make a counter offer of the same figure as a discount (net zero); with the threat of a move to open source to slash the following year's fees.

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Linux

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

However, Linux does support Libre or Openoffice.

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FAIL

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

Yeah, but have you read the release notes for Samba 4 ?

Specifically the "known issues"

DNS - Broken

Replication - Broken

http://www.samba.org/samba/history/samba-4.0.0.html

Samba continues to suck out loud.

I'll stick with MS thank you.

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Facepalm

OMG

The number of people who would fall for that. Yes we will ditch MS and then want to use the spawn from hell software that got us into the whole mess in the first place.

Had to do a mail merge from a sqlite db recently. Ok so I haven't done this stuff for 10+ years. What do I have available Office 2007, and can find a ODBC driver for sqlite. So I should be able to do this. Hurdle 1 its a 64 bit win7 so have to register the odbc via the 32 bit odbc manager that is only available from the windows directory. Ok mail merge, hang on, office needs to get its data via DDE? So I need to have Access Installed?!? Even though office recognizes the odbc connection?!? So the job is going to cost my time plus the office upgrade. Well its a personal job, "She who has to be obeyed", her accounting practice. My time will cost about as much as getting Access.

Angry I build the whole thing in Libre Office. Even though I'm unfamiliar with Libre Office, it takes less time to build the whole shebang from scratch than it did to get as far as I did with MS, and its working on linux and windows, its portable to other machines in the office, no additional licenses. Sure I lost out on time I essentially built it twice, but I wont be doing that in the future.

Libre Office FTW

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Re: Install Linux and let 'em come

"Will this run on linux?"

No, but the fact the it runs on Windows is a triumph of pig-headedness over elegant design. Even access would have been a step-up from what you describe.

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Pint

Re: Install Linux and let 'em come @asdf 12/12 1747 GMT

Amen to that :)

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Re: database software.

Assuming you are not trolling:

"Companies hit with huge settlement demands for innocent behaviour" - well, if they are hit with settlement demands, it means they are already (allegedly) using unlicensed software, otherwise what would be the basis for those settlement demands. And using unlicensed software is not "innocent behaviour" - at least not according to current law - no matter what you or I think about it. If the demands are not founded, then there is no need for a counter offer - just refuse to pay and prove the demands are wrong.

"should make a counter offer of the same figure as a discount (net zero); " - I'm not sure you are in an ideal position to make a counter offer after (allegedly) committing a criminal act. If they are right and you have already been using their software, you already owe them money.

I like Linux and open/free software, I use it every chance I get and I recommend it to all my clients every time it can be reasonably deployed. However, I don't suggest to my clients that they start taking liberties with commercial software license terms or outright pirate stuff, just because I might not be a fan of what proprietary software represents or is. As far as I'm concerned, if you don't like it (or its price), don't use it - which is what I do and suggest my clients do every chance they get. I don't like the price of Ferrari's, and hence haven't bought one :D

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RE: Re: Install Linux ... custom code

Which for any organization, can be a show stopper.

The question that needs to be answered is this: Do you still want to be locked into a Microsoft environment, or is it the time to get off that treadmill?

The answer will vary depending on the needs of the organization. Some companies can not easily move as they are tied into proprietary software which does not exist for Linux (and does not run well under Wine), and can not find alternatives. These people are stuck. (I actually have a different word in mind, it begins with 'f".)

WROK PALCE uses Linux, and we have re-written all in house apps to run on any platform. It was worth the expense. (Just tell the boss: "No more BSA audits that will end up costing the company $$$$$".)

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Vic
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Re: database software.

> You're thinking of Access, not Excel.

No, he's not...

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen Excel used to manage a database, just becuase it can display things in a tabular format :-(

Vic.

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Unhappy

How does this "audit" even work...?

The Microsoft guys kick down your door and demand your licenses, or else? (Obviously not, but I also can't imagine the companies inviting them willingly.) How is that legally possible? Isn't anyone else unnerved that such a thing even exists...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

There are various scams that they can use to get themselves invited.

Especially with all the layoffs at present all they need to is to find a disgruntled employee who alleges that a company is a tad soft on license management and they have a claim they can progress. Add to that that their license management scams are complex enough to give an accountant headaches and you know that they can probably find enough cause to string you up publicly (the other scam they run - causing bad publicity), and an audit always costs you time and resources you would otherwise use to run a normal business.

A classic example were the corporate licenses which make you in effect pay twice for the same thing - as soon as you create a corporate image to install on all machines you somehow can no longer use the fact that the box actually CAME with Windows installed (they may have sorted this out, I've switched quite a while back exactly because we also manage legal exposure).

It's a very annoying extra problem you have with the use of Microsoft products..

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Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

Microsoft wants to do the same to us now, as with most of these (We had IBM last year) they will have a 3rd party carry out the audit on their behalf.

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Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

It works like the movies. Some big guys in suits come in your business looking all scary with weapony looking lumps under their suits. They tell you that you have a really nice looking business and it would be a shame if anything 'happened' to it. If you cough up some cash then you'll continue to be safe until the next time they come around.

Microsoft, partying like it's 1929!

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Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

If you're a business customer who has procured licensing through any sort of Microsoft volume agreement, you'll find that it contains clauses allowing Microsoft to conduct audits. It is legally possible because you, the customer, have agreed to it. Most license agreements with businesses contain similar provisions, other than perhaps low-value/box-product type licenses.

The usual tactic is that the sales people will come in first and offer to help you against the nasty audit department, "over which they have no control and if we don't reach some kind of agreement you'll be audited and pay up to three times the value of missing licenses". Had exactly that tactic from IBM last year due to a previous manager (and the reseller) screwing up changes to legacy notes licensing in a bid to save money.

They claimed we owed up to £170K, we did our homework and managed to get it down to the £30K that we actually owed, and got a discount from the reseller on that £30K as the screw-up was at least 50% their fault and they had no paperwork to prove otherwise.

Have also been on the receiving end of two Microsoft 'SAM' engagements (i.e. reseller audits you for a fee before Microsoft goons kick the door in). Similar scenarios, "You're drastically underlicensed, this is going to cost six figures", "No we're not, turns out we owe maybe £10K and the discrepancy is well within the limits allowed by the Enterprise Agreement".

Moral: Do your homework, keep digging and don't be FUD-ed in to paying a fortune to make the problem go away. (Unless you are deliberately under-licensed by some huge amount, in which case you deserve everything they throw at you).

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Windows

Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

"The Microsoft guys kick down your door and demand your licenses, or else? (Obviously not, but I also can't imagine the companies inviting them willingly.) How is that legally possible? Isn't anyone else unnerved that such a thing even exists...?"

Microsoft's secret weapon is: 'Volume Licensing'.

Once you have signed up, you have basically agreed that at anytime Microsoft can send somebody to rape your cat.

I used to recommend to small businesses that they should consider OEM distributions on new kit to avoid this, and avoid buying any additional products. The cost was sometimes close enough that any extra 'savings' that they made would be negated by the difference in administration costs.

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Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

Yeah but it's not really a protection racket because the words "protection" and "Microsoft" are mutually exclusive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

You don't even need to be on volume licensing for an audit to happen.

Otherwise, most places that shun paying for software would not be covered and would be immune to any kind of enforcement.

AIUI a court order can be gained authorising entry to business premises for the purposes of an audit. I have seen FAST do this - they operate on behalf of MS and other software houses.

A very important term in these matters is 'due diligence' - even if you are woefully lacking in appropriate licensing, if you can produce an official-looking policy which outlines steps to become compliant, and can show that you are actioning it, then a court can be quite understanding, even lenient.

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Vic
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Re: How does this "audit" even work...?

> a court order can be gained authorising entry to business premises

In which jurisdiction?

I'm pretty sure you'd need a Police Officer or Certificated Bailliff to execute any such order...

Vic.

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Facepalm

No Windows 8 licences? We don't believe you...

Oh....

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Given the number of business products Microsoft have out there its hardly surprising that they check more businesses. I would be more worried about a company that only had one product but still managed to "kick down the door" of so many businesses...

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Joke

That Microsoft Statement.....

"These are not the droids you are looking for".

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how do we know that microsoft carries out more audits just because they kick down more doors? maybe it's competitors carry out as many audits but microsoft just has stronger feet than it's competitors or it's customers have weaker doors.

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Anonymous Coward

RTFA.

TSIA (The Title Says It All).

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we were audited this year

With two months wasted going back and forth with the agency Microsoft used to perform the audit and despite my claims backed with with hard evidence that our business had shrunk since the last time ms had visited us with no change to the architecture besides retirement of some systems, they still persisted like we were criminals. Thus to eventually make them go away I simply asked what they wanted from me and I settled for fifty quid worth of terminal server licenses for a system that no longer existed. It was cheaper to settle than to continue spending time on the audit. Scumbags. Treating sys admins like this ensures that the brand Microsoft will remain forever in the uncool bracket and drive adoption of alternative suppliers. The one thing I hate in life is people wasting my time combined with extortion.

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Mushroom

Re: we were audited this year

Maybe if enough people document this behavior the DOJ can bring a RICO suit against the bastards.

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Re: we were audited this year

I wonder how much they would like it if you would record everything on audio and video. Could be fun to see how they would react.

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Re: we were audited this year

Yeah, the bastards scammed me out of about $3500 worth of Microsoft Lync licences and CALs. (We were in fact running Office Communications Server, but that wasn't "okay," it had to be Lync. Long story.) After two months of pissing away days tryign to comply with thier insane requests, I ended up just paying the toll to get them to fsck off.

Then moved to Openspark. Followed shortly thereafter by tearing out bloody everything MS that I can. 2013 will be interesting.

Bastards.

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Re: ...record everything on audio and video...

Every entrance to WROK PALCE contains a conspicuous notice stating that audio and video surveillance is employed.

Also, there are more cameras (and microphones) than are visible. It is definitely a plus. BTW, that was 'pointed out' to the "agents" from the BSA, the last time they were here.

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Re: we were audited this year....tearing out bloody everything MS

IF those bastards return next year, and you are absolutely certain that you are rid of all MS "product", you are in a better position to deal with them. Be sure that you check everything, including any spare hard drives, or retired computers.

I know someone who got it up the ass because he replaced the hard drives in a few PC's and put the old ones "on the shelf". BSA "agent" 'claimed' piracy because the retired hard drives contained an O/S. Bastards.

I would definitely run what I am about to suggest past your legal counsel first, as your local laws will cover how (nasty) you can be to them. If legal gives you the green light, just sit back and wait.

Once they show up, and "complete the audit", finding no licensable "products", ""invite"" them to your office while a co-worker calls the police. Once the officer arrives, have him escort the "agent" from your premises; and issue a trespass warning. Follow up with notice to their superiors, that you are extending the trespass warning to all of their agents and employees. Where I live, violation of a trespass order is an arrestable offense.

If they ever show up again, let them in, and call the police. When the officers arrive, have the trespass warning handy, and off to jail they go. Fuck 'em.

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Licence server

Can't we automate away these expensive auditors already?

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