In the world of MSPs we come across far too many businesses that use Unlicensed Software for their business operations. A regularly abused software is Microsoft Office. This could be due to a lack of understanding, which is understandable with the different types of licenses out there, or to cut costs to which there is no excuse. This blog servers to answer five key questions about Unlicensed Software, and why you should not be using it.

What is ‘Unlicensed Software’?

BSA|The Software Alliance gives the following definition for Unlicensed Software:

“Unlicensed Software is the installation or use of unauthorized copies of software. It can take many forms, including illegal distribution or unauthorized sale and sharing an activation key or credentials for web-based software. One of the most common types of Unlicensed Software use among businesses is under-licensing or installing software more times than the license permits.”

What are the risks of using Unlicensed Software?

  • Security: Unlicensed Software lacks the proper installation, the continuous updates, and may come from a malicious source, and therefore creates a large security risk for your business as it is vulnerable for abuse by malicious agents.
  • Features: Unlicensed Software often lacks the features of Licensed Software due again to lack of updates, due to the license not being for business and therefore not having business features, or the same license being used by multiple people so that it is impossible to use certain features.
  • Money: You can be sued for using Unlicensed Software (See the next section Who is BSA|The Software Alliance?). Whilst this presents immediate monetary cost, the reputational cost of being a company that cuts corners and has open security risks due to lack of care can also lose you customers, losing you more money.

Who is BSA|The Software Alliance?

BSA | The Software Alliance is an organization that advocates for the software industry globally in front of governments and the marketplace. They pioneer the correct legal use of software and advocate for public policies that encourage technology innovation and digital economy growth. Their members include global leaders in software such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Siemens.

Why is this important to me?

BSA | The Software Alliance audit companies for legal software usage, if they find that your business has been using Unlicensed Software they will sue you punitively on behalf of the Member Software Owner. They also have a program that allows people to report a business they know is using illegal software in return for a reward post successful suit. This means any vendor, customer or employee could report you and it doesn’t matter how big or small you are – BSA | The Software Alliance will investigate.

How do I Check my Office License?

Step 1: Open a word document

Step 2: Look to the top left corner for the ‘File’ tab, click it

Step 3: Look at the blue bar on the left, look for ‘Account’ and click that

Step 4: You will now see the ‘Account page’. Look for ‘Product Information’ and check the ‘Subscription Product’ (Red square in the picture)

If the Subscription Product is ‘Office 365 Home’, ‘Office 365 Personal’ or ‘Office Home & Student 2019’ then your Software is unlicensed and you could be sued by the Software Alliance.

Are you using an Unlicensed version Microsoft Office? Buy Microsoft Office Licenses for business today through Site Tech Services, give us a call at (813) 549-5700 or email us at

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash
BSA | The Software Alliance: