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Recession Turning Software Auditors Into Greedy Traffic Cops 307

Posted by Soulskill
from the twenty-six-in-a-twenty-five dept.
judgecorp writes "As the recession bites, software auditors are cracking down, and some are simply exploiting loopholes and technicalities to meet their targets, according to analyst Forrester. They may be within their rights, but they aren't endearing themselves to users; Steve Ballmer faced weary customers in London last year, and admitted Windows licenses have deliberate 'gotchas.'"
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Recession Turning Software Auditors Into Greedy Traffic Cops

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  • Easy solution. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:47PM (#30703812)
    (1) Outsource your work to a very large country which dosen't care about IP laws.
    (2) Profit!

    (1a) Outsource your work to domestic individuals who have the compatible software regardless of license legitimacy.
    (2a) Don't shake their hands when you make a deal. Pay'em through some guy meeting them at an Italian restaurant every week. Stop showing up when they fail to deliver.
    (3a) Wanna keep your house? 1a and 2a for you unemployed Americans whose baby food money is going towards military ammunition.
    • Re:Easy solution. (Score:5, Informative)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:48PM (#30704270) Journal
      (1) Outsource your work to a very large country which dosen't care about IP laws.

      Shame you got modded troll. This is pretty insightful, though it should say "Outsource your work to a country which has lax tax laws."

      One of the most unintentionally hilarious points in TFA is Steve Ballmer's comment;

      Users such as the Government of the Isle of Man are already saving up to £120 per year using the beta version of Windows 7

      The Isle of Man is largely an offshore tax haven with around 1,350 desktop computers for the entire government. If all of the promised "£100 per desktop per year" savings materialise, the IoM government will have saved a grand total of £135,000 by using beta software. So why would Ballmer be so interested in such a small deployment?

      Accounts for Microsoft Ireland Research, an Irish subsidiary of the global software giant, show that the company paid just €460,000 in tax, on profits of more than €1.2 billion last year.
      http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/category/microsoft/ [taxresearch.org.uk]

      That's 0.04% tax.

      Still wondering why Microsoft is heavily involved in an offshore tax haven?

      Even funnier, the IoM Government was an early supporter of Windows Vista, and claimed savings switching to that OS. Though only completing their rollout in October 2009, they were just in time to save even more money changing to Windows 7. If they keep making savings upgrading like that, pretty soon Microsoft'll be paying them for installing Windows.

      • Re:Easy solution. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:36AM (#30706174)

        I'm posting AC because I do IT work for IOM gov. Your post is full of misinformation.

        First of all it's disingenuous to represent the Isle of Man as a "tax haven". It's one of the few offshore jurisdictions that aren't on the US blacklist of tax havens and has tax information sharing agreements with anyone that matters. We don't have "lax tax laws". We're one of the only 3 jurisdictions whitelisted by the UK to conduct online gambling precisely because we have good regulation and anti-money laundering protection. And the overall level of tax burned on the IOM is about the same as the US.

        Second. There are about 5000 desktop and laptop computers. Now you might not think such small numbers don't matter, but it's not the numbers, it's where they are. The IOM has everything you'd find in your average government, from the executive offices right down to sewage treatment, water utilities, power generation, hospitals, schools, roads, etc, etc. Only it's much smaller. So why does MS care? Because they can deploy their products across an entire and extremely varied organisation, and capture that in only 5000 machines.

        As for the Vista/Windows 7 thing. The software is licenced through microsoft's rental scheme, so whether they stay on Windows XP or Windows 7 doesn't matter, they pay the same. The claimed savings were down to lower maintenance costs etc. Also after the deployment of Vista, the upgrade to Windows 7 (like all their application deployments) is through a system called SMS. It's deployed over the network, overnight and is completed with one reboot. No user settings are lost as they're all on network profiles.

        I don't like MS as much as the next slashdotter, but you're talking about things you don't know. Stop.

        • Re:Easy solution. (Score:4, Informative)

          by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:45PM (#30707890) Journal
          The US blacklist isn't the only definition of tax haven, and the IoM only avoided the blacklist by signing more tax information exchange agreements than other offshore havens.

          From Wiki;

          The Isle of Man does not charge corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax or wealth tax. Personal income tax is levied at 10–18% on the worldwide income of Isle of Man residents, up to a maximum tax liability of £100,000. Banking income tax is levied on the profits of Isle of Man based banks at 10% and income from the rent of Isle of Man property is levied at the same rate.

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:51PM (#30703840)

    I don't use ANY proprietary software at my company. I own a software development company in Argentina. If I get an auditor (Auditions here are done by ARBA, the state-wide equivalent of the IRS in Buenos Aires) I just won't even open the door. Sue me if you want. I use NO privative software, and no one has any right to log in into my servers or workstations (We have ~40 machines at our offices).

    Fuck them in the ass.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:08PM (#30703976)

      I don't use ANY proprietary software at my company.

      This is great for anyone who can get free software to do their bidding. For everyone else, this really pushes free software into the limelight in a good way (e.g. - we'll use it until we see the value and THEN we'll pay for the "enterprise" support).

      Adobe products apparently "phone home". My former employer was just approached by Adobe about some unlicensed copies on the network (the users have full admin rights, per most Windows environments). They settled out of court for $2 million (USD) but immediately dropped Adobe from the suite in favor of free software.

      Kudos to Adobe for screwing themselves so bad.

      • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:47PM (#30704266)

        They settled out of court for $2 million (USD) but immediately dropped Adobe from the suite in favor of free software.

        Kudos to Adobe for screwing themselves so bad.

        I'd hardly call getting a $2,000,000 check "screwing themselves". Especially since, if they hadn't -- as you say -- "screwed themselves" like that, they would have gotten nothing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PitaBred (632671)

          And now they'll get nothing else, when the company could have been a good customer, along with bad publicity. I won't every buy anything from Adobe now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gerzel (240421) *

        Getting free software to do ones bidding is really just learning how to use it and doesn't take any more time than non-free software in most cases. The thing is that there are some differences and that in schools proprietary is what is taught.

        Yes it is harder for some applications but for the vast majority of office work FOSS is just as good. If you really need that little boost and can't afford to pay the time then pay the money and say hello to the auditor with a smile on your face as you agreed to the

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Burz (138833)

          Getting free software to do ones bidding is really just learning how to use it and doesn't take any more time than non-free software in most cases.

          I have to disagree with that as far as desktop applications go. Although I normally hold up Firefox as a shining example of what other FOSS projects could achieve, the 'eco-system' doesn't really work for end users even with this nice browser.

          For instance, I recently setup some Ubuntu systems for a shop doing heavy online sales through eBay. One day soon after, someone there decides to get a better camera but can no longer select the resulting JPEG files for uploading because the new camera does filenames i

      • Roasting chestnuts (Score:5, Informative)

        by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:17AM (#30704852) Journal

        Here's a nice old story [cnet.com] about a Microsoft software user that got audited, sued, fined and dragged through the press. Apparently they sell guitars. Of course a loss for somebody is naturally a win [sun.com] for somebody else.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cob666 (656740)
          Ernie Ball does a LOT more then just sell guitars. They have a very good reputation in the music industry for making a good product and (more times than not) a consistent product.

          This is a great warning to large companies like Microsoft and Adobe and also the BSA. But unfortunately, not every company is in a position to just drop an OS like Windows because of issues like user training, third party applications, business specific software that is only available for Windows, as well as client and vendor co
        • I'm a guitar player and I just recently put a set of Ernie Ball strings on my Ibanez Prestige RG1570. I liked them well enough, but now I love them. I'll be buying Ernie Ball from here on out. On a side note, FTA:

          ""I don't anticipate a big round of simplification," Ballmer said. "Whenever you simplify you get rid of something.""

          Even Ballmer admits that getting rid of Windows simplifies things ;-)

    • by Quasar1999 (520073) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:10PM (#30703980) Journal
      Some how, in North America, your mentality would be viewed as admission of guilt, and they'd find you guilty of pirating software that quite probably hasn't even been written yet.

      We seem to have fallen into a guilty until proven innocent beyond any doubt (no matter how unreasonable) system up here... How's the weather down there? If you guys have cheap internet, I'm willing to emmigrate...
      • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:26PM (#30704108)

        I agree with that. Actually, there are many screwed up views on the US about many subjects. Argentina is far from being a paradise. We are a mess in many areas, but we are much more free. I have many friends from the states (Being a coder, you just make friends in all parts of the word), and I hear many talk about the land of the free. Freedom in the US is a scarce value. We are a lot more free down here. You can use drugs without the cops bothering you, People are not suing each other all the time, and you can actually live without a credit card, a bank account, and financial records. You can live in cash, without being chased, and just say 'fuck the government, I want my own little Anarchy". If you leave everyone alone, and don't expect anything from the government, they have no way of bothering you. That's the way I choose. I stay out of their way, and they stay out of mine. Sure, if you are into the game, they will fuck you up. But if you decide to play alone, you stand a chance.

        About your questions, the weather is very nice, the place is beautiful (sort of European-looking, but with virtually unlimited natural resources, less people, lots of cheap land, and the best food in the world). About internet access, I'm paying 33 Dollars for unlimited 3G access anywhere in the country [coverage is pretty good, i have signal everywhere, even outside the cities], and 42 Dollars for a 4MB Cablemodem, that works pretty well.

        Cheers.

      • by pclminion (145572) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:32AM (#30704540)

        The civil justice system has NEVER been an "innocent until proven guilty" system. Unlike criminal justice, civil justice is about "preponderance of evidence." Roughly, this means that whoever's case is more impressive, wins. You don't have to prove anything, you just have to be more convincing than the other guy. And if you don't try to defend yourself? You lose by default. This isn't new. It's always been this way.

    • by emcron (455054)
      Eh? How do things work there down under?

      Software audits don't entail some government henchman knocking on your door at random and demanding to see what's inside. Audits in the U.S. are usually for companies licensing large volumes of software for multiple users. The agreements they enter into allow the software maker (Micosoft, Adobe, etc.) to ask for and recieve an accounting of installed copies of software to make sure you're paying for what you are using or are otherwise properly licensed.

      They don'
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bmo (77928)

        >They don't just show up and kick down your door.

        Yes, they do.

        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=opera&rls=en&q=bsa+raid&btnG=Search [google.com]

        --
        BMO

  • Would have been better to use blood sucking lawyers.

  • Easy solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:53PM (#30703862) Journal

    Don't run Windows. "Software auditors" are just about unknown to users of any other platform.

    -jcr

    • Re:Easy solution. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:59PM (#30703902) Journal

      Exactly. On a somewhat related note, I think it would be interesting to see how the recession has affected the use of FOSS due to the necessity of cutting extraneous costs like software licenses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

        Opinion only: Little to no effect yet. Most companies are trying to ride out the recession. (Read, management is still enjoying a nice paycheck, and most of their usual perks) When, and only when, management is looking at cuts to their own pay and/or benefits will they look at FOSS as an alternative. Then, there will be problems. All those donations to schools has ensured that most people only know the MS way of life, and it will cost to migrate to anything else.

        But, if the recession isn't solved with

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I don't know about where you work, but where I am they dropped all new software purchases & maintenance for software they owned 12 months ago.

          But they aren't planning on moving to open source. They purchased the software, they aren't hiring anyone, and so they don't need to do anything.

          Long live Office 2000!

    • Re:Easy solution. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:32PM (#30704168)
      4. REPORTING AND AUDIT. If Customer wishes to increase the number of Installed System, then Customer will purchase from Red Hat additional Services for each additional Installed System. During the term of this Agreement and for one (1) year thereafter, Customer expressly grants to Red Hat the right to audit Customer's facilities and records from time to time in order to verify Customer's compliance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Any such audit shall only take place during Customer's normal business hours and upon no less than ten (10) days prior written notice from Red Hat. Red Hat shall conduct no more than one such audit in any twelve-month period except for the express purpose of assuring compliance by Customer where non-compliance has been established in a prior audit. Red Hat shall give Customer written notice of any non-compliance, and if a payment deficiency exists, then Customer shall have fifteen (15) days from the date of such notice to make payment to Red Hat for any payment deficiency. The amount of the payment deficiency will be determined by multiplying the number of underreported Installed Systems or Services by the annual fee for such item. If Customer is found to have underreported the number of Installed Systems or amount of Services by more than five percent (5%), Customer shall, in addition to the annual fee for such item, pay a penalty equal to twenty percent (20%) of the underreported fees.
      • Re:Easy solution. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:29AM (#30706162)
        What is Red Hat thinking? Written notice? Microsoft doesn't always give notice, that's why its audits are so successful. At least during one incident reported on Slashdot, they didn't give any notice and just showed up with Federal agents and guns.
      • Re:Easy solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by selven (1556643) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:05AM (#30706524)

        Let's see:

        -10 days notice
        -at most once a year unless you get caught
        -if you make a minor mistake, you pay up and you're done
        -if you make a major mistake, you pay up 120% and you're done

        Sounds better than anything Microsoft or Adobe have to offer.

    • Yep, nobody would threaten to sue you for using Linux.

      Excuse me, jcr, you've got a phone call from a SCO on line 3. I think you might want tot take it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Minwee (522556)

      Don't run Windows. "Software auditors" are just about unknown to users of any other platform.

      I think you meant "to users of any other platform where the hardware costs less than a car." Oracle, for example, has a long history of auditing its customers and only the most brain damaged among them would run it on Windows.

  • by Suki I (1546431) on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:58PM (#30703892) Homepage Journal
    They may be within their rights, but they aren't endearing themselves to users; They are not looking for endearment, they are looking for a paycheck.
  • What rights? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:02PM (#30703926)

    They may be within their rights,

    What right would that be, exactly? If they're not law enforcement, and they don't have a court order, they have zero "rights." Yes, even if they show up wearing fancy raid jackets to try and look like law enforcement.

    I've posted this several times before. If the BSA or any of these other vultures come knocking, they have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT TO DO ANYTHING, SEE ANYTHING, TALK TO ANYONE, etc WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. If they have one, that means you're already in the process of being sued, and the first person you should call is your lawyer, and you should ONLY do EXACTLY what the court order requires you to.

    Here's the Superbanana Super Guide To BSA Bullshit Shutdown.

    • Your receptionist and anyone else that is near the front door should keep them as far out of the building as possible, at a minimum the reception area. Block their path. If they even so much as poke your check with a finger, call the police immediately. Maybe even call the police, preemptively ("Hi, 911? Some people in raid jackets showed up at our business, they're not police, but they seem to be pretending like they are. There's a lot of them, we think they might be trying to rob us or something.") At a company where I worked, we had a silent alarm button at the reception desk.
    • Send someone to find the most senior person in the company, preferably an officer (CEO, CFO, President, etc.) They do all the talking. That talking should consist almost entirely of "Who are you" (where your attorney will send a very nasty letter to). "Do you have a court order?" (No.) "Get off our property, you're trespassing."
    • If the "auditors" refuse to leave, get physical, or try to connect to the network or start poking around, call the police immediately.

    If they don't have a court order, don't let them see anything, touch anything, install anything, connect anything. Don't answer any questions. The only information you should give them is your attorney's phone number.

    • Re:What rights? (Score:4, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:19PM (#30704050)

      Here's where the nonsense starts...

      You consent to the audits if you have any volume licensing at all. You also gave up your right to sue and have consented to going to arbitration. In that, BSA claiming they have a report you licensed X and you are using Y copies (from the upset employee you fired a month ago) and unless you present a defense, you lose. So, you've got to let the auditors do their count of computers... You can slow them down and get into compliance in the meantime, but you can't keep them

      • Re:What rights? (Score:5, Informative)

        by pclminion (145572) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:27PM (#30704118)

        Giving up your right to sue doesn't mean you can't sue. I've seen it done. Party A and Party B enter an arbitration agreement. Party A believes Party B has failed to fulfil some contractual obligation. Party B disagrees, finds fault with Party A, and sues Party A. In court, party A enters the original contract into evidence. Party B disputes it. A hearing is scheduled. A question of validity of the contract is raised. Party A then sues Party B for breach of contract. The whole thing is tied up in the courts for 17 months. The issue is resolved when everybody gets so fucking tired of it that they just walk away.

        You say I gave up my right to sue? How are you going to prove it? I guess you'll have to... TAKE ME TO COURT.

        • Re:What rights? (Score:5, Informative)

          by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:30PM (#30704144)
          They show the clickwrap contract, and then you've got to prove the Microsoft EULA is invalid. Good luck with that.
          • They have no evidence that you clicked on it though. Just because the software is installed means only that "someone" clicked the agreement. Or maybe not -- all software has bugs in it, maybe the installer didn't show an agreement (due to a faulty video card driver, for instance).

          • by pclminion (145572)
            I didn't say I'd WIN, I said that just because I have an arbitration agreement doesn't mean I have to abide by it. It's fundamentally impossible to give up your right to sue somebody. It just makes it a hell of a lot less likely that you'll win.
            • Re:What rights? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:27AM (#30704508)
              Yep. You have a right to sue when you have no chance of winning. It just isn't a very profitable right to exercise.
    • ELUA? (Score:3, Insightful)

      IIRCC some EULAs give the "authorized representatives" the authority to check your computers.

      Good argument for GPL'd software.
    • If they even so much as poke your check with a finger

      I presume you intended to type cheek?

      IANAL, but the law, as I was instructed in it, in British Columbia, Canada suggests that if you think someone is trespassing you should inform them they're trespassing. You can then place a hand on them to escort them off the property, if the resist, even to the point of simply slipping away from the hand you've place on them they can then be seen as having assaulted you.

      Corporations and most lawyers use intimidation as a matter of course, as do government agencies. I'm

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by speedlaw (878924)
        Thank you. I am forever amazed at those who expect a company to "play fair" or "do the right thing". May as well expect a hungry shark not to eat that cute puppy who fell off the dock. Having litigated against some big companies, the OP has the right attitude.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phoobarnvaz (1030274)
      Am not a big fan of the software auditors...but having been fired from a company in the past who had been caught the previous year with $250,000 US of unlicensed software in a medical billing company...was told in a meeting about this about two weeks before they let me go. Working in the IT department at the company & being escorted out of the building during a merger that had just started...I contacted BSA as soon as I got home. Told them the exact machines/software the employees were using from hacked
  • I don't have solid data to back it up; but I think they're giving out more tickets in California now.

    The other day I actually saw somebody get nailed for "failure to yield to a pedestrian". This is indeed a big problem--to the point where I have to wait for several cars to pass through a crosswalk sometimes. Still, it doesn't seem like they cared that much about it a couple years ago.

    Coincidence?

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Maybe someone got hit. Where I used to live there were a couple of pedestrians hit in crosswalks, including one who was carrying a baby. They put the fine at $500 and the cops started enforcing it. It wasn't really a big problem before, but there was no problem at all afterward.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by biryokumaru (822262) *

      For all intensive purposes

      I've always thought that that was "For all intents and purposes."

  • WTF is that supposed to mean? I think of some guy with beady eyes and salivating mouth clutching a Krispy Kreme and a coffee. Traffic cops are greedy? Pricks would be the word I'd use. I think they do their job out of officiousness rather than any sort of expectation of personal gain. Is greedy traffic cop one of those internet things I missed?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XanC (644172)

      If "traffic cop" implied "greedy", then there wouldn't be any need for the adjective.

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:28PM (#30704124)

      In the town next to the one I sit... there's a old police officer who has a "quota" of traffic fines he needs to collect in the budget. Miss his income number, and he's unemployed. The budget number is public record as and in as a separate line item in the official budget. He's authorized to put up a "Speed Limit 30" sign at any intersection because that's the state law at all intersections marked or not.

      Now, on the way out of this town, there's a highway interchange. That's an intersection, but the state highway people don't want you going as slow as 30 miles per hour there... you won't be up to 55 on the short ramp to the highway if you do. So they've rigged this intersections with enough signs that the traffic officer is locked out... if he puts his sign up, it's not properly displayed because it's either blocked from view or too far from the intersection. He still writes tickets there, and if you take him to traffic court you can get it kicked. He's hoping you confess or just send in the check. There's even a state website where you can pay your fine with a credit card.

      If enough people do get his tickets kicked, he'll be done.

  • Ernie Ball (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:24PM (#30704092)
    I'm sure that Sterling Ball over at Ernie Ball (guitar string manufacturer) is sitting with a big grin on his face every time he reads something like this.

    For those who forgot:

    http://news.cnet.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.htm [cnet.com]

    In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses. Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

  • and some are simply exploiting loopholes and technicalities to meet their targets

    Arn't "loopholes and technicalities" some of the things auditors are supposed to look for?

  • by cortesoft (1150075) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:28PM (#30704126)

    Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel for the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), spoke in defence of the software industry protecting its property rights

    Could the guy have a more pretentious name? Really? Julian Heathcote Hobbins? Could that guy have any other job beside going around and telling people they are using the product they bought incorrectly?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Come on, he can't help his name. Now, using all of them, THAT's pretentious.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:31PM (#30704156) Homepage

    IMO this is one place where strong management can make a big difference by taking an explicit position on "Times are tough, we need to collect what revenue we can" vs "We need to preserve a relationship with our customers *and* help them stay in business *and* get ready to capitalise on that good relationship when the economy picks up and we want to sell more stuff". Targets should not be allowed to distract from the bigger picture, which is *serving your customers*. Sure you might have contract terms that give you "the right" to hit your customers with surprise charges in order to help keep your own business afloat but you're not really serving them, you're using them. By the same token, when I go to my local shop they have "the right" to be rude to me - I'm paying for goods, not manners. But then I'd switch purchasing to the other local shop. Everything has a cost.

    But what do I know, I'm not a manager! Times are tough, people have to get by somehow.

    • by Rix (54095) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:59PM (#30704326)

      Who can screw their customers and expect them to come back for more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lemming Mark (849014)

        Heh, that's certainly true too! I've been thinking a lot recently about whether predatory / monopolistic behaviour is *ever* a good idea. It seems to me it's only ever a good plan in the relatively short term. In the end, trying to squash the market under your weight rather than swim in it is always going to result in disloyal customers, faster moving competitors and loss of market position.

        I'm not sure there's a way of avoiding the eventual progression of successful company -> bureaucratic monster -

  • I work for a small (~50 person) software development firm. I have no experience on the business side of the house, so I'm open to the possibility that I'm missing something really basic here. With that said, why would a company let a software audit happen? It seems like the only possible outcomes are bad. It's not like the company can realize any revenue from an audit (and could quite possibly end up paying money to buy licenses), and even if the auditors don't find anything bad, there's still the overhead
    • by amiga3D (567632)
      I'm thinking it's because you agreed to their right to audit you when you purchased the licenses. Nobody except for lawyers ever read those EULA's it seems.
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      MS might want you to take a software audit when you buy ne licenses. so in that respect if you need to upgrade they can make it part of the deal.

      personally i can't see how the manager of any company worth his salt couldn't stone wall this. first you would play dumb - really dumb -. then once they had spelt out a few times what they wanted you'd put up a few objections that don't make any sense. follow this up with a few feature questions to taking them off down another track and they will probably be ready

    • Is that it's a term of the volume/"professional" licenses large organizations have to enter into.

    • by Gerzel (240421) * <brollyferret@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:15AM (#30704436) Journal

      You are forced to have the auditors by agreeing to the licenses to use certain software products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233)
        The laws of the State trump the licence conditions. They can pretend to have these powers but they don't have anything unless a Judge or similar grants it.
  • ... Linux/OSS gains market share.
  • What about this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pclminion (145572) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @12:05AM (#30704364)

    Suppose I'm a healthcare company. Software auditors show up at my door, waving contracts in my face. I let them in. They insist that they must inspect ALL machines running, say, MS Office. Some of these machines contain sensitive health information for ten thousand patients. I have now committed 10,000 willful HIPAA violations, and could go to jail, in theory, for up to 10,000 years (maximum jail time for willful but non-malicious breach is 1 year per instance).

    Or what about SarbOx? Any possibilities for violation there?

    I think a strong case could be made that if you are a HIPAA covered entity who uses software which is subjects to such agreements, and you abide by the agreements, then you are committing a felony. Thus, using Microsoft software is a felony. QED

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cfalcon (779563)

      I'm pretty sure you would explain the situation to the auditor, and they would find a way to check that you are in compliance without actually having access to the data you are legally obligated to protect. There are TONS of places that can't just go pushing their data around willy-nilly- some have customer data that personally identifies them. Others are running a classified network. Whatever your cause is, I'm sure they can find some way to verify that you are using their stuff with licenses without,

  • by Black Cardinal (19996) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:06AM (#30705104) Homepage
    From the third article linked: "I don't anticipate a big round of simplification," Ballmer said. "Whenever you simplify you get rid of something."

    Duh. That would be the point, wouldn't it?

  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:03AM (#30706080)

    Seriously, anyone?

    Part of my job description is making sure the company is up to scratch with their licensing. So I have to read the licenses - and I do.

    I have concluded that software licenses are written expressly to trip up customers. Even when they're relatively straightforward, they often contain clauses which would be considered absurd in almost any other commercial contract.

    For instance, the only license that allows you to roll out Windows using an imaging system (eg. Ghost) is one of the volume licenses - and for the most part they include a clause which states "You will buy a license for every PC-compatible computer in your organisation". Now you know why so few companies are taking Linux seriously on the desktop. I have no idea how enforceable such a clause would be, but I can't see many companies wanting to challenge Microsoft in court.

  • I love this bit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mormop (415983) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @07:08AM (#30706264)

    "Ballmer also suggested that education should be given government stimulus funding to enable young people to gain experience on the computing systems they would meet in the real world."

    Seriously Mr B, go fuck yourself. You don't need the money and young people, on the whole, are pretty good at working things out for themselves as they have a "click and see what happens" approach mixed with the ability to ask another kid who knows. Doesn't matter if it's OpenOffice, Office 2007, whatever, if they really want it to do something, they'll find a way. The weak point is quite often the teachers.

    Seriously, in the UK you cannot be a teacher without a University degree. A University degree should teach you to analyse a problem, research the problem and apply a solution. In software, this boils down to "I can't do X in program Y", go to Google and type "how do I do X in program Y", click links until you find answer and follow instructions on page. Most of the time they seem incapable of following this simple idea. They'll even come in and as me then watch me hit Google and search for a solution (often the first result returned) but it never dawns on them to do the same themselves next time (and no, support isn't my job). I showed a year 7 how to find something out using the "F1" key and he was amazed, he just didn't know.

    The best thing for education, would be for kids to be trained to work stuff out for themselves by teachers who are trained to work stuff out for themselves. This "teaching people to use the software they'll use in the real world" argument is crippling and the seeming inability for people with far higher qualifications than mine to work out even minor problems has seriously dented my faith in the higher education system.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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