Orange County, CA – I was talking to a client today. He is the IT director for a mid-size international manufacturer of manufacturing equipment. He is upgrading a bunch of his Windows Server operating systems. Some are physical, most are virtual. He was talking to a Microsoft licensing expert at one of the specialty Microsoft Large Account Resellers that do this sort of work. Even the licensing expert was unsure and confused and he had to call in another expert. So now there were three of them on the phone musing over the arcane licensing rules. His sharing of the story sounded like a conversation going over confusing and conflicting tax law… or perhaps the sometimes confusing and conflicting HR law in California. When did software licensing get this way and how did it happen?

This brings me back to a topic I wrote about back in April 2014, Are You Targeted for a Microsoft Audit/Microsoft Software Asset Management Review?

It is no wonder Microsoft is conducting these audits. There is so much confusion even amongst the experts. The rules around the software are also written very aggressively, especially in VM environments, that I am certain that audits are handsomely profitable for Microsoft. In an era where the IT market is maturing and growth is slowing, it looks like Microsoft has found a way to pad the top line generously whenever they are coming up a bit short on quarterly financial projections. It takes a lot of creative work to keep growing past $20B in quarterly software revenues. That is just my opinion….