Microsoft customers face a greater chance of being audited compared to rivals' customers as the tech giant counts up its money, it is claimed.
Redmond conducts software licence audits more regularly than any other vendor, leaving customers with a two out of three likelihood of being audited, according to a survey of 178 organisations by IT asset management firm Express Metrix.
The next highest auditor was Adobe, which checked 42% of user licences - but the biggest worry was that Microsoft demanded an average payout of £300,000 from organisations found to owe cash.
"As with any large vendor, with its end of year approaching, Microsoft is trying to tie up any financial loose ends, balance the books and ensure customers are correctly licensed to use their software," said Martin Callinan, UK Country Manager at Express Metrix.
He added: "Companies need to proactively take steps to ensure their licence position is properly managed and documented. Taking a more structured approach to IT asset management can dramatically reduce organisations' financial risk during a software audit."
The firm outlined three key steps to successfully getting through a software audit:
First of all, it is essential to know exactly what software has been deployed across the organisation. But a one-time inventory will not suffice; inventories must be updated continually and reconciled with purchasing data in order to uncover and rectify licence shortfalls. Express Metrix recently introduced a free licence compliance tool to help IT teams generate reliable reports showing their current inventory.
When faced with an audit, it is easy to end up panic-buying licences in order to guarantee compliance and avoid fines. By understanding how software is being used, by whom, on which devices and from which locations, companies can avoid being pressured into wasting money on software that's simply not needed. Software usage data can also help determine which software can be decommissioned or redeployed more effectively in other areas of the business.
The most effective way to prepare for a vendor audit is for IT teams to ensure they have a solid understanding of their licence agreements and product use rights. By ensuring that software is deployed accordingly with its licensing terms, organisations can significantly minimise their risk in the event of a vendor audit.