Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused – Part 2

What an interesting week it has been. Since my original An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused post, I have received many comments, pieces of feedback, and quite a unique perspective on many things. I wanted to wait a week and consolidate much of the feedback into one post, so here it is. And just so there is no confusion (as there appeared to be last time), no, this is not a rant, tirade, etc. It is a collection of statements of fact broken into specific topics based on what I heard back and saw.

Loopholes and revenue

Several people made comments or statements that my post was based on the fact that I was somehow upset that a “loophole” existed or that using this would mean less revenue to Microsoft. Clearly these people do not know what I do here and have not attended my seminars or followed my Blog in the past. Part of what I do is teach people how to spend LESS on Microsoft software and quite often, I am the one pointing out the loopholes and savings opportunities. For instance:

The difference between the loopholes and practices I point out and the ones the authors of the online articles I called out in my Blog post is that the ones I mention provide you will full licenses to legally run the software, unlike the ones they call out. Following their advice to purchase an upgrade license without having a qualifying full license first and installing it is advising you to install and run software you are not licensed to run and potentially opening your company up to fines of up to $150,000 per incident (Not from Microsoft, so don’t go down that path. Look at the next paragraph for the details).

“It’s not illegal to do this!”

I found it interesting that several people responded to my post with statements like, “just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not legal!” or “It may not be ethical to do this but it clearly is not illegal.” I’m not sure where you are getting your facts at; however, to be perfectly clear, installing commercial software (whether it is Microsoft software or not) without a license to do so is illegal in addition to being unethical. Since owning a full license is a requirement of using an upgrade license, if you don’t have a full license first, then installing software with just an upgrade license means you are installing software without a license to do so (again, whether it is Microsoft software or any other commercial software from another company). This is illegal (and unethical).

If you haven’t checked out organizations such as the BSA, you might want to: These are organizations that exist to enforce legal software usage. You will notice if you look at their site, software licensing is not just a Microsoft thing, it is a commercial software industry thing and they have fined many companies for using unlicensed software from many other manufacturers, not just Microsoft. Those fines can be up to $150,000 per incident and they offer rewards of up to $1,000,000 to people who turn in companies running software illegally. Again, following the advice of the authors I called out in my original post and believing those statements that violating the licensing terms is legal will make you one of those companies running unlicensed software. This has nothing to do with how much revenue Microsoft makes from your purchase, this is about potentially exposing your company to huge fines and legal action. Don’t put yourself in this situation.

“It’s because of your prices!”

Here are some other statements I saw a few times and I find very enlightening on people’s perception. Comments such as, “You’ve priced the product in such a fashion that they do not see the ‘value’ in paying the higher price,” or, “These users are exploiting a flaw in the upgrade model so they can purchase a genuine copy of Vista at a more reasonable price.” Whether you agree with the pricing of Vista or not, how does installing software without a license to do so change the fact you don’t own a license to run the software?

Or, there were even comments like these, “I’ll do whatever I can to screw M$,” or “With the amount of money Microsoft has, why should I pay your prices for Vista?” or “I’ve never paid for an OS and I’m not about to start now!”  So, how does the size of our company in any way change what is legal or not when purchasing our products? Does this mean if we were smaller it would then be wrong to run our software without a license but because we are not small that it is ok? Several people even commented how they bought new PCs and then were planning to use the upgrade “loophole” (again, still not a license to run the software without a full license first) to get Vista for less. Here’s my question to you… Why bother? If you’re buying a new PC, buy your Windows license through OEM (license designed for Windows purchase on new PC) with your machine and save money. In addition, you’ll actually have a license to run the software.

Sensationalism and perception

I’m sure you saw the headlines and posts, “Eric Ligman tore into users,” or “Microsoft Exec Lashes Out At Users,” etc. What’s really interesting is that in my post itself, I stated that the target of my comments are those writing the articles who are giving customers misleading advice and trying to convince them that using the upgrade license by itself provides a license to use the software just because it physically installs. Why? Because as listed above, what they are telling you to do will end with you running software you are not licensed to run and potentially open you up to potential fines and legal action because it is illegal to run software you are not licensed to run. Yet, people went out and posted that I was posting against customers, tearing into users, etc. Again, sensational headlines and statements draw the readers. In all actuality, I had already stated in my post that this was not the case; however, many people commenting on my Blog that came from those articles sent in comments about why would I attack customers, users, etc.?  I didn’t. I posted about those writing the articles telling you to do these things and trying to convince you it is ok to do so, when it is not. (I’ll be sure to call this out much better in the future to lessen the misunderstandings)

The grass is green, so I won’t eat rice!

So what does the color of the grass have to do with eating rice or not? I’m not sure, but that’s how I felt with several of the other comments I received as well. Such as people telling me that it is because there are multiple versions of Vista (Home, Business, Ultimate, etc.), that people are using this “loophole.” Whether we have one version of Vista or fifty versions, how does it change the difference between an Upgrade license and a Full license? Or someone actually commented about how I underlined words in my Blog for emphasis. And that has what to do with the topic at hand? (By the way, yes I am fully aware of how hyperlinks work since I was writing HTML over 15 years ago and no, underlining does not always mean it has to be a hyperlink). They did make for very interesting reading though.

Can you feel the love?

This was a very nice touch I thought. One of the publications even had a post entitled, “Hug Eric Ligman Day!” While I don’t think we really need to go that far, I appreciate the sentiment.

So to sum it up, my post was in no way targeted at customers or users. It was intended for those trying to advise customers and users that what they are advising people to do provides them with a license to run the software legally. As a customer or user yourselves, it doesn’t bother you that someone is trying to tell you to do something that could potentially open your company up to huge fines for installing software you are not licensed to run? It should. Regardless of what they say or write about me, the company, the product, etc., it doesn’t change the fact that an upgrade license without a full license first is not a license to run the product. This has nothing to do with Microsoft revenue, or my role, or my opinion, or anything else. It is the simple premise on how commercial software is licensed (you need a license to install and use the software) and I thought I would call this out for you, since those other articles did not and actually advised to the contrary.  You may not agree with how commercial software is licensed, and that is entirely your right.  It still does not change the way it works.

So please use any and all of the legal loopholes that I have advised on over the years (some are included above), use all of the incentives and promotions available, take advantage of getting more for less, get credit for past purchases, talk to a Small Business Specialist or a Large Account Reseller to help with purchasing advice, etc. to get the best price available on your software. Just do it legally to protect your business.

Thank you for all of the comments and thoughts you have provided so far and please keep them coming if you have more. It is always great to hear from the readers.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights

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