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Software ID Tags

In today’s rapidly evolving world of new devices and computing paradigms, many IT departments struggle to quickly, easily, and accurately inventory their IT environments. For many customers license management is more of an art than a science – where getting it wrong can have costly results.

Today many enterprise customers who want to ensure they remain compliant spend many hours to sort through and normalize the data they get from even the best inventory tools - and many customers still end up buying based on an ‘educated guess.’  To that end, we’ve heard from customers that they would like Microsoft to carefully consider ways to help them lower the cost of managing their software licenses. 

Consistent and accurate data provides a solid foundation to decision making. With this in mind, Microsoft is collaborating with national standards bodies and industry leading groups to further the development of the ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009 standard for software identification tags.  We are folding ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009 support into our product planning cycles, and will begin to include these tags in future product releases.  System Center and the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit will be updated such that future releases will provide the ability to inventory SWID tags.  

Customer and Industry Feedback

These tags provide a universal way to identify software which makes it easier for customers to track and manage the software running within their environment.  This ISO standard greatly simplifies the software identification process, helping to lower the cost of managing software licenses for most customers.   We think this is an important first step in making it easier for customers to manage their software assets, and customers and industry experts agree:

Benefits of SAM

Uses Beyond License Management

Although software license compliance is often top of mind in discussions relating to Software Asset Management, SAM encompasses much more than just matching software use to entitlements. SAM is also a key strategy to help organizations ensure they receive maximum value from their software while minimizing risks.  Customers and industry experts are also excited about the positive impact these software ID tags can have in these areas:

Benefits of SAM

We will provide further updates as part of product development roadmaps in the months to come, and will also share additional details periodically here.  Customers can also work with qualified Gold SAM Competency Partners to develop plans to leverage these SWID tags in the months ahead, and may also qualify for assistance through a SAM Deployment Planning engagement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which customers do you think will see the most benefit from these tags?

Corporate & Government customers of all sizes will likely find these tags helpful in managing their enterprise IT environments.  Small and medium business can also benefit from the simplification of the inventory reconciliation that these tags can bring.

What kind of information will these tags give me?

These software identification tags are simply small XML data files that are installed with the software.  They contain the following mandatory data elements: Product Title, Product Version, Software Creator, Software Licensor, Tag Creator, Unique Software Identifier, and Entitlement Required (Yes/No). 

For additional details, the official standard can be purchased here or here.

Who can access these tags? Will these report my use to Microsoft?

These software ID tags are XML data files that are installed with software. They are simply markers which indicate to your IT team what software has been installed within your network. These tags do not report back to Microsoft, nor do they verify license rights. They are intended to be a tool that can provide customers with better insight into the software that they are using in order to lower the costs of managing those software assets.

Will this help me track CALs?

These software identification tags are simply small XML data files that are installed with the software.  This means that they can be found with the installed software (in this example, on the server).  For most servers, nothing is installed on the client devices that access them, which means that server software ID tags will not be present on the client devices.  For assistance in calculating CAL requirements, you may find the MAP Toolkit and the information here helpful.

Will these tags tell me how something is licensed?

Software ID tags provide information which helps ensure you have accurate data concerning your software inventory.  They do not include information about the specific license entitlements or metrics involved with that software, however having accurate inventory information is the first step in successfully determining your license requirements.

What’s the different between ISO/IEC 19770-1 and ISO/IEC 19970-2?

ISO/IEC 19770 is a multi-part standard for Software Asset Management (SAM), currently with two parts publically available for implementation.  Each part is identified by a unique suffix.  Part 1 (ISO/IEC 19770-1:2012) outlines business processes for successful software asset management.  Part 2 (ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009) outlines the structure for software identification tags, which can be used to improve the accuracy of software inventory collection as part of SAM.

Where can I get a complete copy of this standard?

A complete copy of the official ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009 standard can be purchased here or here.

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