What is a Microsoft Audit? Everything you need to know.

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What is a Microsoft Audit? Everything you need to know.

Microsoft Audit is the biggest fear of all companies that buy pre-owned licenses. This is because there are a lot of myths and rumours out there, around the Microsoft licensing rules. In this blog we will answer all your questions about this topic, explain what an audit is, and how you can prepare for a Microsoft Audit. 


What is a Microsoft Audit?

When there is an Audit, Microsoft wants to get information about the licenses that you use and have. If there is something wrong with that information, Microsoft can for example ask you to pay money to them for the licenses that you do not have any proof for. With an Audit, Microsoft wants to see how many Microsoft licenses you are using, and the proof of the purchase of these licenses, next to some other vital documents.  


What triggers a Microsoft Audit?

This usually happens when Microsoft suspects a customer/company of illegal use of licenses. The company will then be asked to do a self audit and report the results of this to Microsoft. Sometimes, it is being sent out at random, mainly to medium-sized or big companies. Microsoft does these Audits, just to check whether you have got any evidence for all the licenses that you are using, and if you are using them in a legal way. Activities that can trigger a Microsoft Audit are for example your purchasing history and if your reseller told Microsoft to audit you, and there are way more various reasons on this. You have to be prepared very well for these Audits. These Audits mainly happen to companies that use pre-owned software, so it might be useful to explain as to why pre-owned software is legal. 


Why are pre-owned licenses legal?

In 2012, the Court of Justice of the European Union, declared that it is legal to buy and sell pre-owned software licenses. These licenses can only be bought and sold in the European Union, otherwise it is illegal. Pre-owned software is software that has already been used before. There are a few important rules to the pre-owned software: 

  • The license is not being used at the time of delivery. 
  • The license is perpetual. 
  • The used software license is not incomplete in any way. 
  • After the purchase, there are no other costs for using the license.  

One of the most important things around pre-owned software is, that the quality of the license, is not any worse than a new one, which is the case with for example cars and furniture. This way, it is a lot cheaper to buy your software licenses, as the quality is not worse, and the licenses are a lot cheaper. We, from Digi License, sell pre-owned software licenses up to 70% cheaper than new licenses. If you want to read more about pre-owned licenses, we advise you to read this text. 


How to prepare for a Microsoft Audit:

To be prepared the best way possible for a Microsoft Audit, you can do a few things. This is mainly preparing some information around the licenses you have and use. You need to find out how many Microsoft products you have installed. Next to that, you need to collect all proofs of purchase. Furthermore, there some other things you should definitely check in the preparation for a Microsoft Audit: 

  • Check the number of CALs that are installed on the servers. You can check this under the tab ‘licensing’ in the Server Management console. 
  • All virtual machines and both physical servers and virtual servers should be counted. 
  • Count how many people are using and accessing SQL databases and other server-based products, and make sure you write this down. 
  • All desktops and laptops, maybe even mobile devices if you are using Microsoft products on there. 
  • Put all of the information above, and maybe even more necessary information you have access to in one document. This way you have everything ready for when you get an e-mail from Microsoft with an Audit. 


What can happen?

If you receive an e-mail about the Audit from Microsoft, you have your document ready, if you followed the steps above, which you can then send to Microsoft. If it happens that you are using licenses that you do not have any proof for, Microsoft can ask you to pay for those licenses, as you are basically using them illegally. When you do everything right and legal, give the right information to Microsoft and communicate well with them, there is a very big chance that the Audit will not be having any consequences for your company.


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