When you are about to acquire a software suite to use for your office or home, the licensing process can be quite intimidating. There are so many different kinds of agreements and knowing which one is going to apply to you and your situation is not easy to recognize.

If you consider that a software license is like a contract between Microsoft and the person or entity who is going to be using it then you can understand why it isn’t always so straightforward. After all, the software is intellectual property and Microsoft wants to make sure that it is protected.

Although there is a Microsoft Windows server licensing guide to help you decide which type of agreement you need, there are other factors to be aware of. In this article, we will go over several so you can understand the process.

1 – Be compliant

Unless we are talking about Microsoft’s open-source software, you will be dealing with proprietary software. This means that you or your company have to make sure that you are compliant and following the guidelines that dictate how the software can be used. Otherwise, you have the possibility of running afoul of Microsoft and could lose your license.

Microsoft has a compliance department that makes sure that the licensees are all using the software in the way they are allowed to use it. Those that aren’t aware of the guidelines or choose to ignore them will get a compliance report that shows them where they are making their mistake. This also includes making sure that you have the right license from the very beginning.

Getting the wrong license will lead to Microsoft issuing a report which can lead to a fine or losing the license if you don’t get yourself compliant after.

2 – Understand the complexity of licensing

It is easy to just decide that licensing isn’t all that important and it doesn’t really matter. This is going to end up landing you in hot water with Microsoft and end up causing interruptions. Although it can get very confusing due to variations in delivery methods, products, and software options, it is up to the IT department to sort all of these things out to stay compliant. In fact, only an IT department should be handling the licensing as they understand the intricacies better. If your company doesn’t have an IT department then reaching out to software experts is a good way to make sure that you are choosing the correct application.

3 – Have a plan

The best way to make sure that you go through the licensing process and stay compliant and on budget is to make sure you have a plan. This way you will understand what you need the software for and will get the correct license. Without a plan, you risk not having enough software and the accompanying licenses to get started. Both under-procuring and over-procuring can be avoided by having a solid plan and knowing what you are getting into.