Microsoft Newsletter

          Licensing in Plain English: Newsletter on all things Microsoft

          A note from your specialists at PC Connection Inc.:

          In last month’s edition of Release Notes we discussed the different types of software audits that Microsoft may ask, cajole, prod, or even threaten a customer into engage in. As software consumers, we understand that this is part of the deal – inevitably there will come a time when we need to prove that we have the right licensing to cover what we’re using. We accept is as a fact of life.

          One of the issues I touched upon last month was a phenomenon referred to in the industry as “compliance drift”. Drift does not mean we are deliberately “gaming the system” - knowingly installing software that has not been paid for. Compliance drift happens slowly in certain segments of an IT environment where day-to-day actions, such as replacing hardware, spinning up new servers and VMs, integrating secondary devices, etc., may inadvertently cause a gradual drift out of compliance. This drift can be compounded by the fact that licensing rules frequently change as well – what may be perfectly fine with version X, is now not the case with new version Y. With all these moving parts, compliance drift can happen to anyone, but certain types of companies may be more susceptible. Based on what we are seeing, we can identify some common characteristics of these organizations:

          1. The absence of a reliable on-going asset management solution or lack of personnel to monitor the data from such a tool.
          2. Lack of clarity into current licensing position, i.e. what is my current inventory of licenses?  Products, Versions, Editions, etc. 
          3. High volume of OEM and retail product for non-Windows software.  Do you have OEM Office Home, retail Visio 2007, Office Home and Student, etc.?
          4. High turnover in the IT department.  There’s a phenomenon called “diffusion of responsibility” – in situations where licensing responsibility has frequently shifted from one person to another, we often find compliance nightmares.
          5. Lack of any Microsoft licensing expertise.  Nobody knows everything about Microsoft Licensing, not even Microsoft!  But if nobody in your company knows, for instance, the difference between a User CAL and a Device CAL, you may find yourself drifting at some point. 

          If you have one or a few of these risk indicators, it may be a good time to reach out to your specialist or account manager to talk about your compliance status. Please note that we at PCC are not the compliance police, and will never disclose any details to Microsoft that our customers do not wish to be communicated.

          If you think that you have an area of concern with regards to compliance (i.e. SQL sprawl, server virtualization, OEM and Retail histories, etc.) there are several ways that a good software advisor can help you reconcile. Some customers may require a full-blown SAM engagement – start to finish – with one of our experienced SAM pros. But others may just need a SQL reconciliation, or quick gap analysis. Here are some examples below…

          License Reconciliation Report

          Gap Analysis Report

          Now here are your BIG headlines from May….

          New Wave of Server Releases Coming

          Microsoft officials went public with details about Windows Server Blue, which is officially christened "Windows Server 2012 R2"; System Center "Blue," which will be called "System Center 2012 R2"; SQL Server Blue, a k a "SQL Server 2014"; and Visual Studio Blue, or "Visual Studio 2013," on June 3 at its show for IT pros and developers in New Orleans. Company officials also said to expect the next version of Microsoft's Windows Intune device management/security service, to roll out concurrently with the rest of the Blue servers.

          By Mary Jo Foley

          June 3, 2013

          Windows Blue will be free upgrade for Windows 8 customers

          Microsoft's Windows 8 update, code-named Windows Blue, will be formally released as Windows 8.1 and will be free for customers who have the new OS installed.

          By Juan Carlos Perez
          Computer World
          May 14, 2013

          Microsoft Says Start Button Will Return (with a Catch)

          Microsoft yesterday made official one of the worst-kept secrets in the world of Windows these days -- that it's bringing the Start button back when it releases Windows 8.1 later this year. Moreover, users will have the option of booting up to the traditional, or classic, Windows desktop rather than the tile-based modern user interface that defines Windows 8.

          By Jeffrey Schwartz

          May 31, 2013

          10 New Features For Windows 8.1

          Microsoft Windows 8.1

          By Scott Campbell
          May 30, 2013

          Microsoft tells more about 'Gemini' Office Web apps

          The company is moving ahead with new features in its Office Web Apps -- a key piece of its devices and services corporate makeover -- with its "Gemini" wave of updates.

          By Mary Jo Foley
          May 8, 2013

          Exchange 2003 End of Life: What happens when the clock stops on support?

          "What's happening is that you've still got a substantial base of people who have to make a change — and of course moving from Exchange 2003 is largely for most people going to need a hardware change, as well as an OS change and an application change. So it's quite a big decision.”

          By Toby Wolpe
          May 21, 2013

          Windows Desktop as a Service (DaaS) code-named ‘Mohoro’

          In yet another example of its growing emphasis on remaking itself as a devices and services company, Microsoft looks to be developing a pay-per-use "Windows desktop as a service" that will run on Windows Azure.

          By Mary Jo Foley
          May 1, 2013

          Microsoft Now Enabling Lync-to-Skype Connections

          The company announced today that it's now possible to have audio calls and instant message exchanges between Lync and Skype users. The IM capability was first demonstrated at Microsoft's Lync Conference in February, bringing Lync users in organizations together with consumer Skype users. Users of either application now can add contacts via their respective client applications. Adding the contacts also enables presence capability, allowing users of Lync or Skype to track their contacts' availability.

          By Kurt Mackie

          May 29, 2013

          New Additions to the ECAL Suite as of April 1, 2013

          New Online Services:

          • EOA = Exchange Online Archiving: Is a cloud-based, enterprise-class online archiving solution for your Exchange Server 2010 or later on-premises deployment.
          • EOP = Exchange Online Protection: Is an online email filtering service providing protection for your Exchange Server on-premises deployment. EOP has replaced FOPE (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange).
          • DLP = Data Loss Protection: DLP helps keep your organization safe from users mistakenly sending sensitive information to unauthorized people. DLP helps you identify, monitor, and protect sensitive data through deep content analysis.


          Why I use for my custom email accounts (and how you can too)

          Microsoft’s best-kept email secret is an online tool that allows you to connect any custom domain to its shiny new back end, for personal or business mail. It’s free, and it works amazingly well.

          By Ed Bott
          May 17, 2013

          The Next Big Thing?

          Windows Watches

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