Microsoft Licensing Audits

Author: Dave Norwood

Over the past few months I’ve been getting more and more calls from my clients about Microsoft requesting an audit of their licensing. The title of the email is usually something like “Microsoft Software Asset Management Review”. I would like to share my experiences with these audits, I think you’ll find this helpful when/if you get one of these requests.

First, I want to distinguish between a self-audit and a BSA-audit. The “Microsoft Software Asset Management Review” (aka self-audit) is driven by a contract your company signed. When you agree to the licensing contract on a Microsoft Open or Select Agreement, you are agreeing to these self-audits. You know, those EULA’s we all never read and just click “I Agree”. You must complete the audit because of the contract, but it isn’t as serious as when the BSA comes knocking. A BSA-audit occurs because someone accused your company of intentional software piracy, or something serious like that. With a BSA-audit, it is much more formal and not a “self-audit”. They can actually shut your business down to do the audit if you don’t comply, and if serious infractions are found, they can level big fines and fees. We are not talking about a BSA audit here ( If you ever have to do a BSA audit, and are a TNS customer, I can help there too.

Back to the gentler self-audit (aka Microsoft Software Asset Management Review). In this case you just need to self-report the licensing you are using. Microsoft then compares what you are using to what licenses you own. If you have any shortfalls, you must either true-up (buy licenses) or prove you own the licenses in dispute. Here are the main steps and my recommendations.

Step 1: Request a full report of all Open/Select licenses your company has ever purchased. TNS can get this report for you or you can request if from the people asking you to perform the self-audit. Make sure you provide all possible company names that might have been used and all your locations/branch offices. For example, for my company I would request a report on “TNS”, “Trusted Network Solutions”, “Trusted Network Solutions, Inc.” and “Trusted Network Solutions, LLC”. I would also give them our current address of 406 Lawndale and our old address of 370 Ironwood and list both Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake. Take a good look at the report and make sure nothing is missing.

Step 2: Self-report all the Microsoft licensing you are using. They will give you a form to complete, the “Deployment Summary.” You can do the inventory manually but I recommend you use the free Microsoft “MAP” tool ( You must report on everything Microsoft, from Windows Desktop to Office to Server.
NOTE: Microsoft lists this as the first step. My opinion is to get the “what you own” report going first and do this in parallel.

Step 3: Microsoft compares what you are using to what you own and gives you a report called the Estimated License Ownership Position. In my experience, there will be shortfalls (“variances”). Those shortfalls are mostly related to one of these reasons. First reason is OEM/Retail, it will not show up in the license report you get (one of the many reasons I’m not a fan of OEM/Retail) so you will have to produce license keys or invoices from when you purchased these licenses. Other shortfalls might be accurate, you just didn’t realize you installed/used more copies than you own. The final big one is server and desktop virtualization. The rules keep changing on virtualization and staying compliant can be very challenging.

Step 4: Now here comes the real work for you, figuring out what to do with each shortfall. You’ll most likely need to prove you purchased all your OEM/Retail licenses. For example, you’ll need to find the receipt for the laptop you purchased that came with a copy of Windows 7 and Office 2010 OEM. Any shortfalls you can’t prove you have licenses for will need to be fixed by purchasing the appropriate number of licenses (“true-up”). On the tricky virtualization issue, you might want to engage an experienced and certified Microsoft licensing expert, like yours truly.

Once you resolve all of the variances, you should be set. Going forward work with a Certified Microsoft Licensing Gold Partner, such as TNS, to help you stay compliant.

Author: Dave Norwood

About Trusted Network Solutions:

TNS is a leading Value Added Reseller providing secure network systems and solutions to the SMB and enterprise markets. TNS offers best-of-breed technical solutions acquired, installed, secured, and maintained using the most cost effective methods



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