Know Your Rights – What You Need to Know About Microsoft’s Product Terms Document

By Daniel Brewster

Director of Client Services - Microsoft, NPI

November 09, 2016

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Microsoft’s Product Terms document replaces the vendor’s previously-issued Product List and Product Use Rights (PUR). Microsoft migrated to this then-new single document back in July of 2015. But what exactly is it?

The Product Terms document consolidates and distills the content previously published in the Product List and PUR, and outlines the specific use rights for Microsoft products licensed under the volume licensing program. Importantly, the Product Terms document is also incorporated by reference to all of the Microsoft volume licensing agreements (Select, Select Plus, Enterprise Agreement), and is therefore considered part of the agreement that customers enter into with Microsoft.

The Product Terms document outlines the licensing models for the various Microsoft products, as well as any permitted uses of Microsoft products. It is important to note that Microsoft explicitly states use rights – any use beyond the specific rights granted is not permitted.

A common misconception with Microsoft licensing is that if Microsoft does not specifically disclaim a particular use, you’re okay to use the software in that fashion. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Microsoft’s contracts are fairly explicit about what is permitted. It’s safest to assume that any right not explicitly granted is specifically reserved and not a permitted use. When you purchase software licenses from Microsoft, what you’re paying for is limited permission to use the software in accordance with specific use rights.

These use rights do change from time to time, and changes are memorialized within the Product Terms document. Generally speaking, the use terms in effect at the time you executed your volume licensing agreement will be the controlling document for the term of your contract. Should Microsoft implement more restrictive use rights for a particular product, you are protected by the Product Terms document that was current when you executed the agreement. Should Microsoft release a new product, the Product Terms in effect when the new product is released will control. If you renew your licensing agreement for a subsequent term, the then-current Product Terms will be the controlling document for the new agreement term.

Most major enterprise software vendors have product use rights that are difficult to interpret. Microsoft is no exception. It may not be ideal bedtime reading, but it’s important for everyone involved in managing a Microsoft contract to fully understand the implications of the Product Terms document. Remember, it is a legally binding element of the software license agreement between Microsoft and your business.