Install Linux and let 'em come
Esp with the new Samba 4 fully supporting Active Directory.
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 …
"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.
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.
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
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
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?
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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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!
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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.
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 $$$$$".)
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..
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!
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).
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My company's IT folks do just that -- they have an inventory tool that enumerates the software installed on each PC, so they know (plus or minus one or two) which PCs have what software on them. They seem to have a pretty good handle on the Microsoft products they have (and a good relationship with Microsoft regarding the licenses, from what I hear)
Maybe Microsoft sees that we have hard data to back up our claims and seeks greener, less well documented, pastures in which to graze?
3 times by Microsoft at 3 different companies (all SMEs). Each time the process has been the same and to be fair relatively painless. I would imagine if an organisation was fairly well organised with regard to managing their licencing assets and their hardware and software deployment processes that the audits could be a very simple report running exercise, it wasn't much more with us and we certainly could stand to be more organised in that regard.
Also I've never had to cough up for licences I didn't need, only ones that should have been purchased and had been overlooked.
Perhaps the issue here is more about the licencing compliance agency that gets involved rather than the MS audit process itself.
Using a tool like BMC's ADDM can take a lot of pain out of audits and give you something to bargain with. I work directly with companies doing inventory management on their enterprise software and can say it's no easy task, even when you have the hard data.
A lot of companies go to great lengths to make their software licencing conditions fairly complex and obscure. Based on X number of cores, running Y process and Z disk size. Or tucking it away in distributed databases with non-unified credentials.
Then there's companies like Microsoft who will completely change the terms of their licences every now and then in an attempt to make it more difficult to discover. I'm sure it should be illegal to modify licencing terms on software that is already purchased but this seems to be common practice in enterprise and enterprises pay up!
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The beatings shall continue, until the morale improves.
WRT 'wife beating', be very careful of assuming all females are not capable of defending themselves. A certain guy named 'Bobbitt' found out the hard way.
Oh, shit, the hard way, John Bobbitt!!!!!!!!
I better get my coat.
Ummm, yeah. There is no way on gods earth that MS audits this many companies. I know cause I worked for them for a long time. Account teams have to have a damn good justification in place before they can request an audit of their customer. This 'report' has been created by some two bit company trying to make money off scaring customers that an audit is just around the corner.
And in answer to some questions.....
These are not actual audits. When you sign a Volume License Agreement, you give MS the right to audit you. Your choice. You sign a VLA to get cheaper licensing, but in return, as VL programs are essentially trust based, you agree that MS can audit your licensing. Interestingly MS can, under the contractual terms, insist on customers paying 'FPP' i.e ‘box product’ pricing for any licensing shortfall. This is not something that I have ever seen happen. These ‘reviews’ are almost always done by mutual consent. Sometimes grudging mutual consent, but very rarely does the ‘audit clause’ has to be legally invoked.
However, lots of customers do end up paying for licenses after going through a ‘SAM review’. Now, these are big, in many cases global companies. They hire clever IT people and can afford excellent lawyers. So do you think that they are paying all this licensing $$ just to keep MS quiet....or do you, perhaps, think that they have actually deployed loads of software they have not actually paid for……….?
And Andy McRoid. I do not believe you. I think that you have either got your facts wrong or are lying for dramatic effect. Either way, as a sys admin you are too junior to deal with a SAM review. Sys Admins generally cause software asset management issues through trying (and failing) to be clever around licensing. The issues they cause are almost always rectified at CIO/CTO level so I find it highly unlikely that you ‘agreed to pay 50 quid to make the problem go away’. You sure you are not getting a little confused with the BSA? Or maybe your story is actually a complete fabrication?
Assumptions are the enemy of everyone. Why do you assume that Andy McRoid is too junior when you don't know the structure of the organisation in question? Here, I am the Sys admin and I am the person who has responsibility for licensing. Assuming there is a CIO or CTO is just that, an assumption based on your preconceptions of how all businesses run - they don't all run in that way.
Microsoft has audited a number of SMEs I have as clients, with the only justification being "you have signed up for a Microsoft Open License for this one Microsoft product, that gives us the legal right to audit every piece of Microsoft software on your network."
I was informed in each case – in no uncertain terms – that this was standard practice and that I could expect this every single year until the sum totality of the licensing for these locations was on a volume licensed SA agreement and every single system that might ever potentially have Windows, RDP into Windows, use a file stored on a Windows server or otherwise interact with another PC on the network that has Windows (or SQL, Exchange or any other Microsoft application) had SA licences and CALs.
So don't give me "Microsoft has to have a damned good justification" bullshit. Microsoft's justification is that we are using OEM and/or retail licences on our systems instead of paying a subscription. That's all the justification they require.
It's harassment bordering on extortion. End of.
..take the "Install now and contemplate licensing later" approach.
Not just on the Server products but also on the desktop OS and Office suites too, because they 'can get away with it' With so many KeyGen utlities being available, it makes it easier to get a system up and running "illegaly"
MS are just doing due diligence, a little like those questionable characters who knock on your door and demand proof of a TV license, however the revenues that MS can recover are probably quite good. After all, no comapny ever wants to be named and shamed or possibly shitlisted over a few MS licence costs
don't have to even keygen. Just reusing volume license keys beyond the number you've paid for. Or even on older software versions reusing a single installation key. And it doesn't have to be malicious just a slip of the memory when in a rush to do things.
I think Spiceworks can handle comparing licenced software against what you think your've purchased and report shortfall, but I've never used that bit of it.
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I have been told by a very senior guy at a large UK bank that 'we will pay you what we want for software and you will never dare audit us'. He knew damn well that they were not licensed properly. I will not discuss the outcome other than to note his assertion was not actually correct. It made me wonder what the bank in question would have said had I suggested that I just paid 10% of what I actually owed off my credit card bill and told them to go stuff themselves for the rest of the money. I doubt they would have liked that.
besides, we get all our software from the stores down the road, or PirateBay et al.
A techie from the Plod (called Cong An - Peoples Police) arrives but they give everyone a few days notice so all our affairs are in order.
We have some MS stuff, but all the companies in town share a pile of disks and they are switched from business to business in time for Plod to see them. They also check out satellite dishes are pointing in the direction of a VN satellite, which means we have to get the dish man in to realign the antennae on our favourite satellites. And all our passworded screen savers say Linux.
The various levels of government use copy software, but MS is banned from inspecting them as they contain 'State Secrets'.
Actually, I'm toying with the idea to report the outfit I'm building myself in a few months. Anonymously, of course.
I *want* them to go all the way legal to get inside and inspect - because there won't be a single piece of MS software around (it's all OSX and Linux based, and we won't use MS Office).
You see, it's the cheapest way to get publicity :)
We have been through the SAM process, its not an audit as you provide the information and they did not visit site, but its defiantly not optional.
For the most part I was painless, boxed retail or OEM software was easy peasy. Provided list of keys from our database plus scan/pics of a sample of the certificates. We now only by retail boxed products, to hell with downgrade options or SA subscriptions if they don’t simplify licensing.
It was the e-licensing that was a nightmar, initially it was all passed, then when MS couldn't find enough faults they started pciking holes. MS didn’t even know what we had, even though it was there on the their portal. We had to go back and find all the invoices. Some of those are subscriptions are over 12 years old and even though we had paid every SA renewal and never let them lapse in that time we lost the right to that software, because we didnt have that origonal invoice.
And the MSDN licensing was so complex as to make you go blind, this took us 9 months to get through. MS said “you are not licensed correctly!”, “okay what should we buy?” we reply, “you buy some more stuff, then we will tell you if its right” MS replied gruffly. “Oh really, why can’t you tell me the SKU and then we’ll go get it from our reseller?”
If you get a SAM request, and everyone with an e-license, partner agreement, technet, MSDN, will then you have my sympathy. This is just a sales tool and they won't let you go until you have paid something thats clearly a % target of your total installed estate.
31.12.12 My last Windows box (which IS licenced) goes out of the door. Hallelujah !
No more worrying about licences. No more bills from Bill & his muckers. No more completely obscure undocumented crashes. No more support.m$.com No more 350Mb of drivers, 340mb of which is the 'help and consumables support program' (née spyware)
Nope, Linux ain't Windows and you need a few skills and a bit of patience. It might not run everything out of the box. What you can't, you can usually emulate if need be. Some stuff you can even do with out, if you are honest... My nice little Canon scanner had to go. Very nice. But Windoze only driver. No great loss though. There are plenty more out there.
Nope, it ain't nirvana. It's just another OS. Yes it has problems & bugs. Show me an OS that hasn't ???
I was worried about moving, but it was worth every cent, and with a little careful planning it was easy - get staff using open oource stuff like Firefox/Thunderbird etc on Windows beforehand eases the transition.
Best of all was the satisfaction from getting out from under the straightjacket of M$. AWESOME !!!!!
And having seen a friend just get her new shiny WIn 8 Laptop blitzed by duff drivers today, and wasting a day of work plus losing shed loads of stuff, I'm glad we are gone.
Good idea to get your staff used to working with Firefox and Thunderbird on WindblowZE first.
Hopefully, you figured out which distro you were bolting to, and determined if the office suite was either Libre Office, or Open Office; and installed its WindblowZE equivalent, for the same reason.
Getting the staff familiar with the apps you are going to use before a platform ditch is much easier on everybody. Change in smaller, manageable steps is the way to go.
Icon appropriate for your year end celebration!
because if you cough up to Microsoft then it is likely you will need to cough up to (for example) anti virus software companies, who now have proof (because Microsoft gave it to them) that your company has been expanding without buying licenses for software.
You know what? You were a mug to use Microsoft software in the first place. Deal with it.
I guarantee you that those very-same mugs will numbly hand over cash and buy Windows 8 licenses.
My nerve grew to the point that Microsoft and their idiot software and their lying and bullshit, well THEIR software that I licensed, is used with disdain and reluctance....
Log into that monthly and do all the updates and then back to Linux.......
Microsoft is like anal sex with sand. Linux is like life without Microsoft.
I have people walking by my office, wondering what in hell was so dammed funny; one of them my boss.
I just sent her the link to your post; I wonder how she will react.
Wait...... What was that, hysterical laughter.
OOps, she just appeared at my door, waving her finger at me, snarling: "You naughty boy!!!!!!!"
In a few years time (at best). I am going to start a company. No Microsoft for me. Just *BSD and Some handy distro of Linux.
The reason being is that it is cheaper to hire a programmer and a admin to do what is needed then to licence a software from Microsoft. As software from Microsoft is expensive, works poorly and is a security threat overall.
I rather want to put money into staff then into software licences.
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There is no way that anyone has "kicked down the doors" of over half of businesses in the states or anywhere. It's just not realistic.
There's a lot of confusion here between:
1. a nice friendly phone call along the lines of 'we might be able to help you check if your licenses are all happy, would you like to talk to us about that' - which can be easily fobbed off if you can't be bothered with them or you could have a little meeting with them where you can give them whatever information you want. It is this procedure that the statistics refer to.
2. Much less common, a court order giving permission to enter business premises for the purposes of an audit, which requires reasonable cause. Even then there probably won't be any kicking involved (I hope the author was being metaphorical but it doesn't help to instil unnecessary FUD). Usually legitimate businesses open the door for visitors. In such cases, if it is found that licenses are severely lacking then it is the directors of the business who will end up in court. If you can show due diligence then you will probably be let off with a warning or a small fine.
In my experience the guys who do the audits are actually quire reasonable, they will probably want to take away your computers but they do take into account factors such as 'that machine has been decommissioned and will be disposed of soon' and 'that's a box I brought in from home' (in that case they didn't touch it).
This is based on knowledge and experience of how it works in the UK. In other countries YMMV.
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