Microsoft adopts ISO software identification (SWID) tags to help customers manage IT inventory

From virtualization, device proliferation and the consumerization of IT, managing an enterprise’s IT inventory is becoming increasingly complex and time consuming.  But it’s a task of significant importance, as organizations want to take advantage of every software license they hold, and manage the updates, support and service that are attendant.  Getting an accurate count on software licenses and assets can be difficult.  Inventory can consume people resources, time and budget, and even then it leaves many software procurement teams with an “educated guess” on what they need to buy or what they no longer need.

To that end, customers have asked us to help them lower the cost of managing their software licenses. We have responded by providing more robust SAM Services, in addition to free tools such as the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit

Today, Microsoft is taking its efforts a step further by announcing plans to implement the ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009 standard for software identification tags.  These SWID tags are simple XML files embedded in the software that provide a universal method for IT departments to track and manage the software running in their respective IT environments. 

Customers see this as another important tool for effective asset management.  “Chevron supports the use of Software ID Tags per the ISO 19770-2 Standard as it will assist large, complex environments such as ours to better manage our software compliance efforts,” said Robin Trebec, software compliance project consultant for energy-giant Chevron. “Using this standard provides Chevron clear, more comprehensive information.”   

Microsoft has begun working these tags into product planning cycles, and they will be included in future product releases. System Center 2012 and the MAP Toolkit will be updated so future releases will provide the ability to inventory SWID tags.   

At the end of the day, this standard simplifies the software identification process, helping most customers lower the cost of managing software licenses, ensuring customers are maximizing their IT resources, improving security and leveraging all assets in compliance with their agreements. 

Qualified Gold SAM Competency Partners can help customers develop plans to leverage these SWID tags and customers may qualify for assistance through a SAM Deployment Planning engagement. 

Want to know more about how these SWID tags actually work? Check out this short video for a simple explanation. Also, check out this webpage for more information.

Comments (4)

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  2. Rob Harmer says:

    A few weeks ago the news hit the streets on LinkedIn discussions that the 1st Microsoft 19770-2 compliant tag was "seen in the wild".

    Here are the facts.

    This asessment is based on Windows 8 Release Preview version 6.2.8400.0 (major = 6 minor = 2 build = 8400) which we believe is now, or will be soon, shipping to manufacturers.

    The software 19770-2 tag detail provided by Microsoft in Windows 8 desktop shows only the mandatory data. There is no optional tag elements and yet this is where the key data you will need is located

    There are 7 Mandatory Elements

    – Entitlement Required

    – Product Title

    – Product Version

    – Software Creator

    – Software Licensor

    – Software Unique ID

    – Tag Creator

    and 30 Optional Elements

    – Product Category

    – Components of a suite

    – Previous product or company names

    – License Linkage Details (activation status, channel, cust type)

    – etc.

    The full 19770-2 schema can be located directly at…/schema.xsd

    In PCProfile's opinion, from a customer perspective, the information provided by Microsoft supplying only the mandatory tags in Windows 8 is no better than you can extract with existing Discovery Tools.

    In fact the data they provide with Windows 8 is less than what is found under any Discovery audit with all tools on the market.

    Do not be fooled into thinking that tagging is going to solve your problems, now or in the near future.

    There is a whole world of pain yet to be experienced with the 19770-2 tagging approach as it does not come up to expectations. see

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