Software licenses are often a large part of an organization's IT budget. If your company's software is not licensed correctly—whether you have too few or too many licenses—you can face potential compliance or budgeting issues. By defining and implementing a good SAM plan, you create transparency in your organization and help ensure compliance with licensing requirements.
Your SAM license inventory is an important step in the process. Your inventory tells you exactly what software you have and where it's being used. After you have this information, you must determine whether you are using your software budget in the most efficient way possible.Learn more about performing a license inventory
To understand how you can best optimize and manage your software assets, it's important that you learn all you can about the different types of licensing that are available to your organization. In addition, you should learn what types of documents you will need to keep for each type, how best to keep your documents organized, and how your reseller can help in the process.
What is Licensing?
A software product license grants you the legal right to run or access a software program. In other words, you don't actually own your software—you own the license to run that software.
A license agreement, such as Microsoft Software License Terms—also known as the End User License Agreement, or EULA—governs the use of licensed software. License agreements typically allow the software to run on a limited number of computers and allow copies to be made (though solely for backup purposes).
Software comes with its own type of media or documentation that serves as its proof of license. It is important that you retain the appropriate documentation for the software that your organization uses. If you purchase licenses through Microsoft Store, the "Account" page lets you view details for all of your orders and find the product keys for the software you have downloaded. You can also print individual receipts for record-keeping.
Learn more about the Microsoft Store Account page
If you purchase through Microsoft Volume Licensing, you can view a “License Summary” that shows all of your licensed products, and a “Relationship Summary” that provides a comprehensive look at all your Volume Licensing agreements, Licensing IDs, and orders.
Learn more about Volume Licensing documentation
What Are Your Licensing Options?
Microsoft has several types of licensing programs designed to meet your organization's needs. For smaller organizations where fewer than five licenses are needed, Full Packaged Product (FPP) or Retail is probably right for you. If you’re looking to acquire new PCs along with your software, the OEM option might work better. For larger organizations that need more than five licenses, one of the many Volume licensing programs will suit your needs and save you money at the same time.Learn about licensing options and requirements
What is a Client Access License (CAL)?
If your company's workstations are networked, you will use a network server, and the workstations on the network will access that server's software to perform certain functions such as file and print sharing. To legally access the server software, a Client Access License or CAL may be required. A CAL is not a software product—rather, it is a license that gives a user the right to access the services of the server.
Due to the technical nature of server products, Client Access Licenses can be a complicated area. For more information about CALs, visit the Microsoft Volume Licensing Web site.Learn more about Client Access Licenses now