Microsoft license compliance verification (commonly known as “audit”) is a formal, mandatory compliance review of a company's use of Microsoft products and services, and it is part of the Microsoft license and contract compliance program. Microsoft conducts industry-standard compliance reviews with its business customers through an independent auditor pursuant to the terms of their agreement. This review is an effort to help customers achieve and maintain license compliance, and to protect Microsoft intellectual property rights. Therefore, be assured that unless Microsoft invokes its contractual right to verify compliance via a third-party accounting firm (as fully documented in your Volume Licensing Agreement), you are not involved in a license compliance verification.

The Microsoft SAM program is a trusted IT advisory service based on industry SAM standards that help customers gain data insights, optimize licensing, minimize risks, and be more productive with their IT investments. SAM engagements provide a 360-degree view of the customer's IT infrastructure and a set of recommendations on ways to improve their overall asset management, license management, and SAM policies and procedures. With this comprehensive view, customers get valuable recommendations on areas that are most challenging for their business. SAM engagements are performed by Microsoft SAM Certified Partners and are voluntary. We believe that SAM can be a strategic advantage for all our customers. Learn from customers how SAM has benefited their business.

No, Microsoft SAM and license compliance verification are not the same. The list below shows the differentiation between SAM and license compliance verification.

1. Microsoft Software Asset Management (SAM)
  • Nature of engagement - Voluntary
  • Performed by - Microsoft SAM Certified Partners with more flexibility in process
  • Objective - Help customers maximize value, minimize risks, and achieve more with their IT investment

2. Microsoft license compliance verification (audit)
  • Nature of engagement - Mandatory contractual requirement
  • Performed by - Independent, internationally recognized certified public accounting firms. However, in some jurisdictions, verifications are also conducted by authorized consultants on behalf of Microsoft.
  • Objective - Help customers achieve and maintain license compliance, and to protect Microsoft’s intellectual property rights

Microsoft uses a programmatic approach to select customers for license compliance verification. Any customer with a Microsoft volume license may be selected. Microsoft performs license compliance verifications with a limited number of customers each year, to verify customers’ compliance to the terms and conditions of their respective agreements with Microsoft.

A Microsoft license compliance verification is a routine process of checking customers’ compliance with Microsoft licensing agreements. Customers who take licensing compliance seriously and have a robust internal Software Asset Management (SAM) process are likely to be better prepared for license compliance verifications. Learn how to establish an effective SAM program.

Microsoft will directly provide customers with a formal notification of license compliance verification. The length of an engagement varies based on the complexity of the IT environment of an organization. Per the customer's agreement, Microsoft makes every effort to ensure minimal disruption of the customer's day-to-day operations.

Microsoft license compliance verifications are executed by independent, internationally recognized certified public accounting firms. However, in some jurisdictions, verifications are also conducted by authorized consultants on behalf of Microsoft.

The remedies and other requirements in case of compliance issue occurs are documented in your Volume License Agreements (refer the clause on Compliance Verification). If you need additional clarification, contact your Microsoft Account Manager.

Watch the Microsoft #SAMTalks video, Clarifying Microsoft's Audit Process.

©2017 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This FAQ is provided "as-is." Information and views expressed in this FAQ may change without notice. This FAQ does not provide you with any legal rights to any intellectual property in any Microsoft product nor amend or modify the terms of your Volume Licensing Agreement with Microsoft.

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