Studies in 2006 showed that nearly 1/3 of the software installed on machines worldwide was obtained illegally. More recent studies show upwards of $40 billion in lost software sales. These figures can be grim for ISVs, especially ones that don't have the expertise or infrastructure in place to implement strong piracy countermeasures. That's where Software Licensing and Protection Services (or SLPS) from Microsoft can help.
The SLP services are comprised of three core components:
- Code Protector. Code protector secures .NET code against hacking and reverse-engineering. It does this primarily through code transformation, which Microsoft says "takes selected DLL's and functions within the DLL and virtually compiles (transforms) them into a vendor specific format called Secure Virtual Machine Language (SVML). The functions that are transformed to SVML format appear like regular MSIL function (in terms of interfaces), but are much harder to reverse engineer."
- SLP Server 2008. SLP Server's primary role is to allow ISVs to control SKUs in a more granular way. Called "SKU Agility", it can create digital licenses that map to a product's pre-defined features. That allows ISVs to tailor all, or parts, of a program to specific customers.
- SLP Online Service. SLP Online is a hosted version of SLP Server. Having the service hosted minimizes the upfront cost of the service. It can also add convenience, since it enables licensing and product activation through the SLPS Licensing Portal.
Prices for these services range from $120 per year annually for standard service to $3,000 per year annually for professional services. Additional information and pricing plans are available on the SLPS site.