While we’ve chatted about how software that’s super cheap is generally a scam, it bears repeating because we’ve had the question come up with a couple of our clients recently. If you see software for sale on Microsoft’s website, and then you find it online elsewhere for significantly cheaper, it’s likely a scam.
The reason it’s so cheap? It’s not valid software. The seller usually has bought a Microsoft Volume license of a product, which are licensed for particular business (and aren’t for resale). Volume licenses have the advantage of having a single installation key (which is way large organizations will use them as they can be then bulk installed using that one key).
But that advantage also makes them easier to scam folks with. They’ll sell that software at a ridiculously cheap price and then include that bulk key with every single sale. So you could be using the same installation key as hundred of other companies – which is a huge violation of Microsoft’s Terms and Conditions (remember that long wall of text you agree to when you install software?). If you were ever to get audited by Microsoft (which happens quite a bit, as we assist our clients when they get those requests), you could have to pay all sorts of fines.
Basically if a software sales is too good to be true, it probably is.
How do you avoid these kinds of scams and make sure you are buying legitimate Microsoft software? The simple answer in most cases is deal with a Microsoft Partner (like us) who knows what they’re doing with licensing. Or sign-up for Microsoft 365 where you subscribe to the product you need. Microsoft is moving the bulk majority of their products to subscription-model, and making the one-off purchasing of products like Office, Project, Visio, etc… much more difficult (and more expensive). If you want to stay in compliance and make sure you’re good to go if Microsoft comes knocking, don’t mess around: Purchase your Microsoft software either directly from Microsoft or a certified Microsoft Partner like Weston.
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