back to article Copyright cops launch MS-happy software compliance tool

Fast Consultancy Services has begun selling a software compliance tool aimed at small to medium-sized businesses in the UK that run Windows-based machines, have Internet Explorer as their default browser and £3,500 to spare. The company, which is a spin off from the Federation Against Software Theft, launched the Fast …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    No FireFox support?

  2. john doe
    Thumb Up

    it is on piratebay

    grab a copy from piratebay

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Bollocks !

    "We don’t sell software, we don’t sell training - we sell a membership and we have a range of consulting and professional services," he explained.

    No you don't You sell air. And you don't even bother to heat it up.

  4. Joe

    "Over-licensed" - sounds like a sales pitch to me

    Like the sign at the exit at Costco which insists they're checking your receipt against your trolley so that "you've received all the items you've paid for". It's not to stop you nicking anything, oh no...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't call FAST copyright cops.

    Although they like to talk the talk, I've never heard of them successfully investigating a for-profit counterfeiter.

  6. Kwac


    ""It wouldn't be right of me to name names," he said."

    No doubt he'll be saying the same thing about businesses are dumb enough to ask MS shivs if they've paid enough and found to be wanting.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Chicken Chokers

    I wouldn't let those parasites anywhere near my place of work. In a previous job they were called in by the Compliance Manager. Worst mistake he ever made. They sell nothing but fear (I'd rather watch The Ring again, that was scary, made worse by the fact that my mobile started ringing just as the credits rolled). They're a bunch of smarmy Chicken Chokers.

    I do wonder though. How long will it be before they manage to lobby the government to give them all sorts of actual powers, probably fitting Pedo's and terrorists in their reasoning?

  8. Sergie Kaponitovicz
    Gates Horns

    "We offer 500 hundred products ......"

    I never realised just how big MS is. By anyone's standards a catalogue of 5 million products is a lot.

  9. James

    But if you install ...

    .. and various other great Open Source software applications you KNOW that you are meeting the compliance requirements without a massive capital outlay.

    AC / Firefox - that would be the Open Source browser! They can't check that for compliance because it is open source :)

  10. A J Stiles

    FAST = Fucking Arseholes and Stupid Tossers

    There's an easy way to avoid paying any money to FAST, Microsoft or anyone else.

    Just stick to Open Source Software and Manual Methods! That way, you absolutely cannot go wrong.

    I helped the company that I work for to migrate to OSS/MM, and we're not looking back. Incidentally, some jobs got done quicker by hand than they were with Mickeysoft. (The ones that didn't, we automate using in-house written software.) And if we employ anyone to write code for us, it'll be written into the contract that we get full Source Code and all the same rights we would get if the code had been released under the GPL.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Protection money

    I've dealt with them before and as long as you keep paying your protection money, err I mean membership, they don't care. Try to stop and they'll start telling the Head of IT they're going to prison... Which one might think is a reasonable place to send Head's of IT... if by prison you mean some kind of remote island with exploding neck collars and the fighting to the DEATH!!!

    Hmm I think it might be time for my tablets.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Of course

    They only use IE...this is for MS shite don't you know....

    Now if it were 3500p instead, someone might actually bite on their hook.

  13. adnim Silver badge

    who needs this?

    count number of OS installs in your business/enterprise

    count number of applications in use at your business/enterprise

    compare counts against number of licences.

    Ah... those who cannot count need this.

    "Microsoft’s licencing is complex, I’m not going to deny that point," agreed Bramwell.

    Then make it simple, a corporation with the resources of Microsoft shouldn't find simplification of licencing terms difficult. Or is the complexity and obfuscation of licencing terms done on purpose for reasons only MS understand.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    I'd do software compliancy for a small business for much less than £3,500! Give me £500 a year and I'd even do a monthly check.

    I wonder if this means that Fast and BSA will start checking SMB's for software compliancy, for the little guys it's so easy to slip up (for instance running AVG Free on a machine which is used for commercial use). In fact IIRC a few years back a rather large ISP was running copies of AVG Free rather than the licenced version. I won't name any names though, I just went for a job interview there and noticed it. I'm sure they're probably compliant now though.

    Pirate icon because FAST seem to be the robbing bastards charging that much!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "We offer 500 hundred products ......"

    > "We offer 500 hundred products ......"

    > By Sergie Kaponitovicz Posted Thursday 12th February 2009 15:57 GMT

    > I never realised just how big MS is. By anyone's standards a catalogue of 5 million products is a lot.

    If I've told you once, I've told you 100 times not to exaggerate.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    did any of you read the article or just see ms and start foaming

    they said OVER licenced, as in they had too many licences, as in they didn't need so many, as in they can save money.

  17. David Wilkinson

    Total cost of ownership

    I wonder if MS calculate these types of cost when doing their total cost of ownership comparisons?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Those that say protection racket miss the point....

    I've had visits from this lot. As have lots of other people I know. The conversation generally goes along these lines....

    "Firstly let me say that we are the commercial arm of FAST and not related to the enforcement arm"

    "We offer subscription services at £x, £y and £z"

    "Just think how much you'd save if you were had too many licences"

    "Oh and on an unrelated note did you know that FAST under the arrangement with BSA can, without notice or a warrant, undertake an audit of your premises that may result in the seizure of your computers and ultimately, if software is found that is not licenced result in an unlimited fine and jail time for you and your CEO"

    "I'll say again though that we just offer services and aren't related to the enforcement arm"

    But they are merely offering services and at no point in the meeting did they actually explain what value they offered to my organisation. I politely declined.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without notice or warrant?

    I think I would laugh them out of the building if they said that, only two occupations have that power in the UK, HSE inspector or EHO working on H&S inspection and then there are strict limitations. If anyone claims to have this power, report them, it is a criminal offence to claim to be an H&S inspector.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @"We offer 500 hundred products ......"

    Errr - would that not be 50 thousand rather than 5 million?

    Anyway, another bunch of clueless "consultants" who won't be missed when their pathetic attempt causes their company to go down the tubes.

    @Those that say protection racket miss the point....

    No they can't enter any premises without a warrant. That's scaremongering and sharp practice as it's simply not true. Anyone who uses that line is obviously just trying to scare you into buying their shitty little products / services.

  21. JT2008
    Paris Hilton

    Cheaper and easier

    If your Head of IT insists on going the automated, pay-for-software way, Symantec/Altiris does everything FAST does ...without scare tactics:

    Paris, because she likes it fast.

  22. Ben Schofield
    Thumb Up


    Surprised that nobody has mentioned Spiceworks yet as an auditing tool. Excellent software for free (not OSS though, but free is still free). Has other knobs and whistles of interest, too.


  23. Chris C

    Microsoft SQL server

    "Meanwhile, any UK organisation interested in adding the tool to their already squeezed IT budget will need to install Microsoft's free SQL Server Express edition, which doesn't need a licence, in order to host the database."

    I hate to break it to you, but Microsoft's SQL Server Express most definitely *DOES* need a license. The fact that it is zero-cost does not mean that it doesn't require a license.

  24. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I don't know why, but...

    ... the "support" offered by FAST always seemed like protection racket. They come to your office and quietly suggest that it is time to do an audit but, of course, if you voluntarily decide to become a member of the organisation and pay this little fee they will leave you alone.

  25. Danny Silver badge

    SQL Server

    SQL server doesnt cost us that much (about £30 I think). The licencing on the otherhand....

  26. A J Stiles

    We had a visit from FAST once

    And the few pieces of payware we still had in use were fully paid-up.

    They were trying to sell us a commercial service; basically involving some (caged) software for checking (restrictive) licences. As we pointed out, we were already actively avoiding as far as possible any software that didn't meet the OSI definition. Including their product (which was Windows-only).

    So we fucked them off, and haven't heard a dicky-bird since.

  27. Paolo Marini

    @David, real cost of Microsoft software

    agree, I'd really hope they'd use the figures from this article when calculating TCO...

    Let me try myself with the following assumptions for the "borough" example:

    . customer size: 200 desktops (near the top of their "typical" range)

    . number of Servers: 8 (1:25 seems a good ratio to me, as they didn't indicate any number for Servers)

    . cost for Servers: 20x that for a desktop

    . unpaid for licences: 50% of total (equivalent to the £600,000)

    so 100 desktops and 4 Server unlicensed for £600,000 gives:

    = £3,300 for each desktop and £66,000 for each Server


  28. N1AK

    @Paolo Marini

    Nowhere did it say that those examples only meant MS licenses, and as the Reg article makes clear they were over paying by maintaining licenses they no longer required, number of current users is of no relevance to this. Add onto this that your calculation is about how much was unlicensed when the article was talking about them having too many licenses and your nonsense is just about complete.

    Congratulations on managing to produce some FUD that even Microsoft couldn't match for sheer inaccuracy.

  29. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    @ Chris C

    Couldn't they just install MySQL (GPL) or PostgreSQL (BSD licence) instead? After all, it's only a database backend. Properly-written code should ..... oh, never mind, it's Microsoft.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward - 20:36 GMT

    I think that you would be quite surprised at the number of officials who have the right to enter your property without notice or a warrant.

    From the gas people (if they suspect a gas leek) to HMRC (and you might be shocked at the powers that _THEY_ have.)

    Don't lock your door, they'll only break it down (and you have to pay to replace it.)

  31. Alan Plastow

    Unfortunately, the collective software and copyright enforcement groups do, indeed, have the right to audit your companies. (Please review your licenses for a "Right to Audit" clause--nearly every license has one.) More importantly, we have found that the vast majority (as in 80%+) of enforcement audits are targeting small- to medium-sized enterprises. These are the same SMEs that pay the highest amount for each software product while being pushed into the least favorable license agreements.

    The most useful and cost effective answer to all of the posts in this thread is that virtually any business, of any size, can learn to monitor its own compliance by sending one person to a single +/- four day asset management course and at considerably less cost. The infrastructure you put in place to ensure compliance due diligence is the same as that required to monitor ROI for ALL of your technology assets--not merely the PC / MAC software that the enforcement industry players want you to monitor. You simply scale it up to higher levels of internal control.

    The automated tools needed to perform all these proactive business process improvements can--and do--quickly pay for themselves (If you even REQUIRE an automated tool, which most SMEs do not.) And, as many of you have pointed out, there are plenty of very affordable automated tools available--you just gotta understand how best to make use of them.

    The core issues behind all of this hype are that you are either controlling your entire portfolio of technology spending and utilization for yourself or the vendors (and/or their FAST / BSA-style friends) are going to do their best to come in and do it for you--for a nicely boosted fee. We've proven time and time again that you can regain as much as 25% of your existing technology budget while reducing ongoing tech costs by as much as 40% simply by exerting strong business process controls over tech spending. Or, you can keep sending your hard-won revenue to the IT suppliers for ever more onerous contracts, licenses, and services.

    Got questions? Let us know and we'll do our best to provide cost-effective answers.

  32. A J Stiles

    @ Alan Plastow

    Or alternatively, businesses can just stop spending any more money on the protection racket that is closed-source software, and migrate as quickly as possible to OSS/MM.

  33. Neil

    Pulling a fast one

    Are fast still offering up to £1000 if you dob someone in for copying software?

    Can't believe they are still in operation

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