WServerNews: Licensed to kill (your customers)

Editor’s Corner

Despite what some movie buffs might say about Timothy Dalton’s short run as James Bond in the late 80s, I enjoyed him in the role in both The Living Daylights and as a rogue agent in License to Kill. Which brings me to the topic of this week’s newsletter: Has Microsoft “gone rogue” in how they license their products and services? And are their current actions with regard to their licensing policies in danger of scaring the living daylights out of their customers?

Consider the following examples of their recent behavior. In early July they told their partner network of resellers that they were discontinuing internal use rights for product licenses and cutting previously included on-premises support incidents they provided for them:

Microsoft is axing internal use rights for its products for its reseller partners (ZDNet)

A week later, after a huge outcry from their resellers, Microsoft quickly backed down (for now, at least) from its poorly thought out decision:

Microsoft capitulates and agrees to undo planned partner product-licensing changes (ZDNet)

So if squeezing the Partner Network couldn’t provide them with any more juice, maybe they could find something else to squeeze across their broad customer base? That’s what seems to have happened next when Microsoft changed its licensing agreements for customers who use VMware’s virtualization platform to run Microsoft software in hosted cloud environments:

Microsoft has found a way to hurt the partnership between Amazon Web Services and VMware by raising prices for customers using non-Microsoft clouds (Business Insider)

While Microsoft may have given the appearance that they were being fair across the board with this licensing change (since it applied not just to third-party clouds like AWS and Google Cloud but also to their own Azure cloud services) it seems obvious that Microsoft’s strategy for doing this was to prod customers who run Microsoft software on third-party clouds to move over to Azure. Of course there are two sides to this fight as the following article explains:

What Microsoft’s upcoming ‘outsourcing’ licensing changes could mean for your business (ZDNet)

But it’s clear that the real losers will once again be the customers who are getting squeezed from both sides, but now especially by Microsoft if they’ve been running Microsoft software in AWS or Google Cloud.

Ditching Microsoft software due to unexpected rises in licensing fees isn’t just something that businesses need to be concerned about. Just two months ago CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, got suddenly hit with a 10-fold increase in Microsoft licensing costs when Microsoft suddenly decided to revoke the organization’s status as an academic institution. Rather than rolling over and accepting the added financial burden however, CERN decided to retaliate by ramping up their program of replacing all proprietary software they use on their internal network with open source solutions:

CERN Is Ditching Microsoft Due to 10x Higher License Fees (PCMag)

Full details of their internal program can be found on their website here:

Migrating to open-source technologies (CERN News)

Other academically-aligned research institutions may want to take note and follow CERN’s lead on this matter if they want to avoid the bait-and-switch danger that is often associated with vendor lock-in for IT products and services.

Finally and as if all this isn’t enough, Microsoft has also recently made another licensing change which may have gone unnoticed by many readers of this newsletter. The change they just made is to their Home Use Program (HUP) for Software Assurance (SA) customers where they have now dropped the ability to purchase the non-subscription version of Microsoft Office software for what used to be a steeply discounted price:

Microsoft removes Office 2019 from its Home Use Program benefits (ZDNet)

Again, the motive here seems to be not to try and nickel-and-dime their customers to boost revenue, but to drive their customers more towards using their cloud services Azure, Office 365, and Microsoft 365. Of course the main benefit of buying cloud services instead of installable software products is to provide a more steady and predictable revenue stream for Microsoft. Not that other software companies like Adobe are doing anything different.

What kind of experience has your organization had with Microsoft licensing? How does Microsoft licensing compare in your experience to that of other vendors whose products/services your organization uses? Have you been thinking of reducing your reliance on Microsoft products/services because of these changes? Email us your comments, questions, and stories about software licensing and how it is affecting your organization: [email protected]

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor


Got questions? Ask our readers!

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That’s a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected]


Tip of the Week

>> Got any IT pro tips you’d like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Help! My Powershell script isn’t working! Can you fix it? (Ask The Performance Team)

Craig Marcho provides some resources for debugging PowerShell scripts and explains how to engage Microsoft Consulting Services for the creation or debugging of a custom or 3rd party script:


Coming up this week in FitITproNews!

In this week’s issue of our FitITproNews newsletter Your Editor will talk about the benefits of strength training and demonstrates an exercise for working your upper back muscles. In addition we’ll also hear from our regular columnists on the following subjects:

  • Robin Camp on overcoming ego through discipline and motivation.
  • Rod Trent on how running can help overworked IT pros maintain their sanity.
  • Mark Nichols on why CrossFit has revolutionized the fitness industry.
  • Kris Lall on using CBD oil for addressing chronic pain issues for active IT Pros
  • Brian Dougal on how to find out where we currently are with regard to our health

All this and more in FitITproNews, the only newsletter in the world that is entirely devoted to helping IT pros get fit, lose weight, and live happily ever after as they face the daily stresses and workload of being in the gristmill of the IT profession. FitITproNews comes out on the third Wednesday of each month and if you’re not already subscribed to it you can do so here.


Admin Toolbox

> Got any admin tools or software you’d like to recommend to our readers? Email us at [email protected]

Veeam is giving away FREE full VMworld conference tickets to three lucky winners. Join Veeam at VMworld San Francisco at booth #6

Identify bottlenecks, address issues faster, improve server efficiency. AI-powered monitoring, customizable dashboards, instant alerting and more.

Have you ever had issues with corrupt PST files? Or needed to restore a backup only to search for a single email? Then you should give MailStore Server a try. It’s an email archiving solution, easy to install and intuitive to use.

HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems main health sensors : voltages, temperatures, fans speed:

Rimraf helps you delete files and folders with very long paths:

Rufus lets you create bootable USB drives the easy way:



In last week’s newsletter I mentioned a recent report from Spiceworks that indicates there are still a significant number of businesses running Windows XP for various reasons. A number of our readers agreed and shared their own stories about this. To begin with, Nat who is a Computer Systems Consultant in North Carolina shared some typical examples of such situations:

I still have customers using Windows XP machines and even two of them still using Windows 98 machines. The two Windows 98 machines are running very old CAD software that will not run on anything newer. And the users like the software much more that the new versions and also the expense to upgrade to newer versions is of the software is very expensive. The Windows XP machines are connected to a large format plotter/scanner that will only work with XP. Also you can’t plot to the device through the network unless the machine has XP running on it. The customer has to keep at least two XP machines running. I have tried to get them to buy a newer used scanner/plotter and they don’t want to put that much money into a replacement.

Windows 98 must be quite a stretch to support nowadays, but what about DOS? Listen next to what Damien from Australia has to share:

G’day Mitch. I have several older PCs, some still using DOS 6.22. These 486 DX66 computers sit on a shelf ready to be brought back to life when I want to play Warcraft 2. I have their images sitting on my backup drive as well as on CD so I can put the image back on within minutes. I also have everything form DX 100, MMX 200, P650, P4, i5 760, and I just retired the i7 3820 for a new i5 9400. I have images set up for every PC so I can run DOS 6.22, Windows NT4, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10. There are only 3 operating systems I haven’t bothered with as can easily be seen.

People ask me why I would use an older OS, and it is for the same reason as you, older games. I tried 3 different PCs and operating systems before I could get Command and Conquer, The First 10 Years to run. I had to install it on Windows XP but only on a specific computer and it still froze occasionally.

I remember all those terrific old DOS games. Playing them in an emulator just isn’t the same kind of experience, is it?

But playing games (except for Solitaire) isn’t usually the main focus of working for a business. Another reader from Australia named Wayne shared this story about supporting Windows XP at a manufacturing company:

Funny you should mention this, my son who has just started with a MSP called me on Friday night to bitch about trying to find replacement drivers for an XP machine that he was trying to recover for a manufacturing business ( apparently it was the controller for a CNC lathe) . He was hoping it was just a dead power supply but no such luck. After drilling out the rivets on the case! and opening it up, there were scorch marks on the motherboard. In the end they found an old machine in the “storage cupboard” (read junk pile) that they could pillage for parts, cloned the old hdd, hacked the startup to remove the specialist drivers that were not needed and got it back up and running.

His biggest complaint was that most of the required drivers appeared to be on websites that demanded you download their download manager (along with their advertising) in order to receive the drivers. Quite often it took longer to download the download manager than it did to download the drivers. Also the joys of being 12 hours ahead of the USA is that they could not contact the lathe manufacturers to see if there was a windows 7 version of the CNC software or even a Windows 10 version. The lathe apparently required the original COM serial port that was fitted to the protective case, and had a push button pad input and led screen output display.

Even software developers sometimes continue to use older unsupported operating systems for doing their work as Dennis from Washington State explains:

I started developing my application in 2001 on a Windows 2000 computer. Eventually that got upgraded to an XP development machine. Currently I do my major development on Windows 7, because I cannot get my development tools to run on Windows 10 for some reason.

Another reader named Daniel who works as a Senior Developer for a company working in the healthcare system shared a similar experience:

I still use an XP VM on a weekly basis, for an old development platform (Delphi 5) that supports a legacy application that is simply not worth the significant time and effort to port to a newer toolset (even though we have Delphi 2005 and Embarcadero Rad Studio XE2 that we could use for the purpose.) The number of changes we require to the app is easily addressed using this VM, which only uses an internal NIC switch to communicate to the Host. If it were somehow compromised, the most damage would be to inject malicious code into our application.

Admittedly, is a significant issue, but a low enough risk that we’ve not dealt with it — applications created on that machine are tested on other internal machines before deployment, and it’s very likely that if hackers managed to penetrate into our network far enough that they’re injecting code into the XP VM, they’ve also penetrated into other areas demanding an aggressive response across all of our network. The sole XP box is the least of our concerns.

But besides software/hardware incompatibilities and lack of money for upgrading to newer products/systems, sometimes it’s just simple inertia that keeps us using older platforms as Dennis continued by saying:

I have a second house on a local lake, which I use summer time only. I took my still working XP computer (and my still working Laserjet III) to the lake to have a computer there for customer diagnosis and even some development when I am at the lake. There did not seem to be a reason to buy another computer just for a couple of months at the lake part time. Yes, I do have a laptop (windows 7) that I could use, but I would rather have a couple of large screens to work with than the dinky thing found on a laptop.

Moving along, in last week’s newsletter we also included a tip on dealing with bottlenecks when streaming different types of data from a server to users or customers. In the tip I mentioned bottlenecks arising from such things as the speed of the front-side bus and I/O controller, the server’s CPU speed, and the number of network connections the server can support. One of our newsletter readers named Murat who is a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) in the UK pointed out another possible bottleneck in this kind of scenario:

You summarized the bottlenecks very well but I think you skipped another important one: The file system. One of my gigs was dealing with IP video streaming. There were many front end servers which stream video files (many tiny and volatile files) to users and files were coming from some backend servers. CPU, I/O controllers and Internet connection bandwidth were all fine but many times, front-end servers could not cope with the load. I decided that the culprit is file system on the front-end servers: It was NTFS.

NTFS has been the file system of choice because it is rock solid and it has many properties of a good file system. It tries to prevent fragmentation by calculating the optimum places for files, it is transaction based so it tries to heal itself as much as it can, it has a complex security permissions mechanism, etc. But these top quality properties had created a bottleneck themselves. File system tried to keep track of thousands of tiny files coming each second and at the end it couldn’t.

In that case, I changed the file system on front-end servers from NTFS to FAT and the bottleneck disappeared miraculously because FAT is a dumb file system; it does not keep track of anything! It does not mean that we should switch to FAT in all cases, No. Because we need rock solid reliability for our precious files most of the times. But in some cases where the files are volatile, not valuable, like streaming audio-video files, we can consider using FAT file system to prevent disk bottlenecks.

That’s a very helpful observation, thanks!

And finally, in the Mailbag section of last week’s newsletter we shared some more reader comments about how so many online services track everything we say and do nowadays, and I likened the situation to what I read once as a kid in a story by Isaac Asimov. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember the name of the story, but one reader did:

I believe that the story is The Naked Sun, by Isaac Asimov, published in 1957. The hero is on a planet that has very few people, and the electronic arts have advanced to the point where nobody Needs to be face to face with each other (except for procreation) and so have grown fearful of actually being in the same building with anybody else. –Dennis from Spokane, WA

One of these days I gotta re-read some of those old SciFi stories that I read in my youth. Like that story by A. E. van Vogt where the narrator suddenly found himself outside the universe looking at a mystical tree or something. Or Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked This Way Comes or almost anything else by Ray Bradbury. Or those weird novels-without-a-plot by David Niven.

What SciFi did you read as a kid? Did it motivate you later to enter the IT profession? Email me at [email protected]


Factoid – Swag can occasionally be useful!

Last week’s factoid and question was this:

Fact: The job of being a sysadmin can be summarized in two words/phrases: (1) Something is down — Why aren’t you fixing this? How could this happen? What do we pay you for? (2) Everything is up — What are you actually doing here? What do we pay you for?

Question: How accurate do you feel this is in describing your job as an IT professional?

That one didn’t have any takers, so let’s move on to this week’s factoid:

Fact: Whenever you attend an IT event or conference you usually end up collecting a bunch of swag from the registration desk and the vendor display area. Most of the swag you collect is junk and ends up in the trash can when you get home, but once in a while something actually turns out to be useful.

Proof: At a VMware event I attended last year I snagged this handy insulated zippered bag I use to keep frozen food from thawing out after I buy it from a store and have to leave it in my trunk for a few hours until I get home:

Question: Has any of the swag you received at an IT event or conference ever been useful to YOU?

Email your answer to [email protected]


Conference calendar

> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you’d like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

Other Microsoft conferences

Microsoft Licensing Boot Camps

  • Sept 10-11 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Oct 15-16 in Dallas, Texas
  • Dec 9-10 in Seattle, Washington

Infosec conference

Cyber Security Summit – August 27 in Chicago, Illinois USA

Cyber Security Summit – Sept. 25 in Charlotte, North Carolina USA

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 3 in New York City

SecTor – Oct 9-10 in Ontario, Canada

Global Cyber Summit – Oct 13-16 in Miami Beach, Florida

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 17 in Scottsdale, Arizona

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 7 in Boston, Massachusetts

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 21 in Houston, Texas

Cyber Security Summit – Dec 5 in Los Angeles, California

Other conferences

SPTechCon – August 25-28 in Boston, Massachusetts USA

VMworld – August 25-29 in San Francisco, California USA

CloudyCon – Sept 10-12 in Burlingame, California

Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit – Sept 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada

VMworld – Nov 4-7 in Barcelona, Spain

Midwest Management Summit – Nov 11-13 in New Orleans, Louisiana

European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference – Dec 2-5 in Prague, Czech Republic

SharePoint Fest – Dec 9-13 in Chicago, Illinois


Podcast Corner

Inclusive design with Intuit’s Vince Abbate (The T-Suite)

Slaying PowerShell Dragons (Microsoft Cloud IT Pro Podcast)

Catch up on the Latest Microsoft Azure + Office 365 News (Microsoft Cloud Show)

Software Defined Networking with Claudia de Luna (RunAsRadio)

STEM Education (This Week in Enterprise Tech)


New on

Another tool for your toolbox: Using Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica

For those who use the Hyper-V replica feature, a tool from Microsoft can help you analyze the infrastructure required to replicate Hyper-V virtual machines.

Create a Log Analytics query without using your keyboard (No experience necessary!)

Never created a query in Log Analytics? It’s easy. In the case shown here, it’s so easy you don’t need any experience — or even a keyboard.

Can I have your attention: Add PowerShell on-screen alerts to your scripts

While there is no native command for pop-up messages in PowerShell, you can generate PowerShell on-screen alerts and pop-up boxes with this method.

How spammers harvest email addresses — and what you can do about it

Spammers are pretty smart and have thought up many ingenious ways of getting hold of your email address. Is there anything you can do to prevent this?

How to create an Azure disaster recovery site using Azure Site Recovery

Here’s how to replicate an application running in one of the Azure regions to another region with just a few clicks using Azure Site Recovery.


Fun videos from Flixxy

Why ‘Gearhead’ Jay Leno Prefers Electric Cars

Jay Leno, arguably one of the most famous gearheads in the world, praised Tesla’s reliability and said that he now sees electric cars as ‘the future’:

Magician Eric Chien Warps Reality On America’s Got Talent 2019

Eric Chien, the current world champion for close-up magic, impresses the judges and audience of America’s Got Talent 2019 with his incredible sleight-of-hand:

Simone Biles Historic Triple-Double

Simone Biles is the first woman in history to land a triple double. Watch her floor routine at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City:

Buster Keaton’s Most Amazing Stunts

Buster Keaton is one of the greatest and most influential comedians and stunt performers of all time:


More articles of interest

Why Linux on Samsung DeX Creates Challenges for IT

Using DeX, users can create a Linux desktop with their Samsung smartphones. But IT should be aware of the challenges with its deployment and management.

What Mobile Thin Clients Offer and Why to Consider Them

The mobile thin client market might not be huge, but these portable devices can be a real boost for VDI shops in improving security and simplifying management.

Upgrade vSphere 6.5 to 6.7 with this Guide

VMware administrators can upgrade vSphere using a simple process that includes numerous helpful wizards. Follow this guide to ensure a smooth upgrade.

Container Deployment Considerations for Successful Implementation

Containers can be useful for specific workloads but admins should consider certain factors, such as security and portability needs, before taking a containerized approach over VMs.


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

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