Ram Dhaliwal at the Business Software Alliance (BSA) warns that many businesses are taking unnecessary financial and security risks by using unlicensed software. He says:
It is essential for business operations that software they use is legal and licensed... [by not buying licensed versions] businesses may miss out on getting access to additional functionality and do not get the full value from their software assets.
Read more: SMEs warned over unlicensed software
That’s an important message rammed home.
A licence, as the name suggests, basically gives you the right to use a piece of software (and tells you how the software can be used). This is different from hardware, which can be owned outright. If you end up buying unlicensed or counterfeit versions of Windows or Office, you could encounter all sorts of nasties:
- the software may actually fail to operate properly – useful that
- it may contain “malware” (Trojan horses, spyware etc) that can infect your computer
- it may contain malicious code
In other words, "dodgy" software can screw up your system. Not pleasant (and ultimately not that cheap after all). Furthermore, software suppliers don’t offer full-service support if (when) things do go wrong.
In addition, anyone who buys fake software, or fake anything, in fact, is according to the Daily Mail:
"the final link in a chain that includes criminals involved in extortion, prostitution, people-smuggling, murder and even terrorism."
Crikey 😮 So buying legitimate, or genuine, software is definitely a good thing.
Another good thing is choice: when choosing genuine software, there is more than one type of licence to consider (depending on your needs).
As a small business buyer, your two best options (over and above buying your software pre-installed on new machines) are likely to be:
- If you have 2 or more PCs
- You can spread your payments over 3 years, great if you have a limited budget
- Comes with a maintenance package giving you extras like software upgrades, training, tools and technical support
- You can have added flexibility by renting the licences (Open Value Subscription)
Open Licence agreement
- Minimum purchase is 5 licences
- Open Licence lasts 2 years, and discounts apply throughout
- You can pay outright at the time you purchase the software, reducing time spent on financial admin
More information (clearer, too) on these options can be found on the new Microsoft Licensing site. The following may be particularly useful:
- Info on how to buy licences (and which buying options are best)
- Frequently Asked Questions for small businesses
If you have a burning licensing question you can also give us a ring on 0870 60 10 100. Or why not contact us via this blog? We will address any question that you may have. We will also be returning to this subject in future. If you feel that there is anything we should clarify, please let us know, and we will endeavour to do on these pages.