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Posted on 01/08/2014 by admin

The chances are you have lots of different bits of software loaded onto your machine, that you are using for the express purposes of running your business. What you probably don’t know is that if you have the wrong version you could very well be breaking the law and heavy fines could ensue if you got caught.

Microsoft are the very good at producing multiple version of the same software suite Microsoft Office/Office 365 is a prime example, it comes in a myriad of different licensing names each one with it’s own set of licensing rules that you really should be aware of. They have also shifted a lot of their licensing from one off purchases to subscription-based, under the name Office 365, this has lead to a lot of confusion around which license to buy or indeed sell.

One very well know UK high street reseller in-fact keeps getting it wrong and I have several times come across them selling Office 365 Home Premium to business customers, even when they have specifically told them they are going to use the software in conjunction with their businesses. This is, I’m afraid to say, a complete breach of the Microsoft licensing rules. Office Home Premium is badged as “non-commercial use” licenses of the office software (it’s actually clearly stated on the packet) yet it regularly gets sold to businesses. Microsoft have actually recently dropped the word Premium from the title of the product, however many high street stores still hold stock of the product with the original name.

On at least one occasion, I have been given the opportunity to challenge the high street store, on behalf of a customer, and got told bluntly that I was in fact wrong and that “non-commercial use” just means you cannot sell the product. So, what I hear you say, does “non-commercial use” actually mean – Microsoft are very specific on this one and define it as follows “The software is not licensed for any commercial business activities, nonprofit business activities, or revenue-generating business activities.” So basically, if you run a business of any shape or form use of this software in not legal.

If you are running a business you should make sure you have one of the following version of Microsoft Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium, ProPlus, Midsize Business or Enterprise. Any other version will not be suitable. It is still possible to buy Office 2013 as an off-the-shelf boxed product and the following versions of that are permitted for Business use Home & Business and Professional. Other versions are also available but only through volume licensing.

If you are in any doubt about what you should buy, make sure you consult an IT service provider first.

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