Coffeehouse Thread

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So how much does TFS actually cost ...?

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  • evildictait​or

    , Bass wrote

    @evildictaitor:
    So what you are saying is anyone using Microsoft products needs to get licensing approval from legal@microsoft.com? Not sure that makes sense.

    By agreeing to the EULA you are getting licencing approval from legal@microsoft.com (they write it the EULAs in the first place). If you don't understand it, or want clarification about one or more of the terms in the EULA, licence agreement, NDA or other legal document the best person to contact would be legal@microsoft.com who will give you an official response. Responses from legal@microsoft.com are official Microsoft policy, so if legal@microsoft.com says "Your company needs to purchase X licences of type Y" and Microsoft take you to court later you can whip out a copy of that email and the judge will take it into consideration.

    IMO (IANAL), if you have some kind of written confirmation from someone reasonably believed to be a Microsoft employee acting in good faith that what you are doing is legal (eg: briankel above), and you are talking about software products valued under the tens of millions of dollar range you are probably pretty safe. I don't think any reasonable judge will be like "well you didn't e-mail legal@microsoft.com or get Steve Ballmer's direct approval". My understanding is employees are able to act in behalf of the company they work for, that their statements are statements of the company itself (unless stated otherwise). That's why some bloggers are careful to say things like "This blog contains my own opinions and doesn't represent the viewpoint of my employer."

    The person needs to be acting in an official capacity as a Microsoft legal counsel. That means if Charles says "sure you need X licences of Y", that holds no weight in court because Charles is not an authorised legal counsel of Microsoft (actually if he made statements like that he could get fired, so he'd just forward your request to Microsoft's legal department).

    But they can not reasonably sue a customer ...

    The law != reason

  • Bass

    I would like your sources for where in the law (US law please) it says only lawyers can set or clarify license polices and pricing in a company. I for one worked for software companies with not a single lawyer on staff.

  • ScanIAm

    , Bass wrote

    I would like your sources for where in the law (US law please) it says only lawyers can set or clarify license polices and pricing in a company. I for one worked for software companies with not a single lawyer on staff.

    I guarantee they had a lawyer draw up the EULA and had a lawyer on retainer.  If this was a solo operation (i.e. just you) then fine, but once you have employees, only an idiot would run a company withough having some legal representation.

    I'm assuming you don't work for idiots.

  • evildictait​or

    , Bass wrote

    I would like your sources for where in the law (US law please) it says only lawyers can set or clarify license polices and pricing in a company. I for one worked for software companies with not a single lawyer on staff.

    For gods sake. Do you really have to be so unpleasant in the way you ask for clarification? You know full well that's not what the US law says, and you know that I wasn't saying that. You want the full legal mumbo jumbo, here you go.

    Technically the authority for defining who can act on behalf of a company is set out in the certificate of incorporation, which in practise always defines the board as the exclusive final authority on any business that the company may or may not take. This is defined in the Delaware General Corporation Law in the US which is the governing law for the state of Delaware where Microsoft is based. Other countries and other states have different but usually broadly similar rules on corporate governance.

    The board has authority to act as sole governors of the company and to exercise their right to make statements on behalf of the company. For all non-trivial companies this right is then passed down through the principle of Delegated Authority to agents and staff of the company who need to act or make statements on behalf of the company. How this delegated authority is passed down, to whom, and whether those members of staff can subdelegate the authority further depends very much on the company in question.

    At Microsoft, the delegated authority for all legal matters lies with the director for legal affairs, who sits on the board. He is the only person on the board of Microsoft who will make statements which affect Microsoft's legal position, and he delegates his authority to the legal department at Microsoft and some select few staff outside of that department.

    This means that if some Microsoft employee made a silly statement like "Yeah, sure you can pirate windows", then that Microsoft employee is acting outside of his or her authority - a dismiss-able offence but also one which doesn't carry any legal weight. If a member of the legal department said roughly the same thing, they would be exceeding the bounds of their delegated authority, would also be dismissed and the statement wouldn't hold. If the head of Microsoft's legal department Brad Smith makes such a statement, it becomes so. In practise if he did so, the board would immediately fire him and get a new head of legal, but that's beside the point.

    Eventually we come back to my previous statement that if you want a binding legal response from Microsoft on any issue, you must contact legal@microsoft.com, or get a written statement from a Microsoft legal counsel. You might not like it, but that's just how it is.

  • Bass

    Fair enough. So basically, we can't trust brainkel's interpretation of the license and DrHerbie should get in contact with a Microsoft lawyer lest he put his company in legal jeopardy.

  • Richard.Hein

    These kind of licensing issue plague all Microsoft developers and really should be fixed.  It's too difficult to answer the boss when asked how much our tools and servers will cost. 

    It's easy to say, "buy a full Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with the highest level MSDN Subscription and don't need to worry about CALs", but trying to quantify it to show value to the boss (if it is of a fair value at all) is a rediculous exercise that we all could do without. 

    We should be able to plug in the numbers and always get the best deal possible for those numbers, immediately, and be able to buy immediately.  I hope Microsoft dogfoods the app store to sell Dev11 SKUs and just simplifies the entire process.

    (Edit: Grammar.)

  • ScottWelker

    ++@Richard.Hein (and others who expressed similar)

    See why some of us who are relatively partial to MS products sometimes seek open source alternatives?

    I feel like this nearly every time I try to recommend MS products - Office365 is a notable (pleasant) exception.

  • AndyC

    , Bass wrote

    Fair enough. So basically, we can't trust brainkel's interpretation of the license and DrHerbie should get in contact with a Microsoft lawyer lest he put his company in legal jeopardy.

    No, because that's clearly taking it to a ridiculous extreme.

    Buy what you need, if you don't understand or know what you need talk to a reseller, because they should know what you need. If, for whatever reason, you need something particularly obscure or the quotes from resellers all seem extremely unlikely (too high or too low) and you're really, really worried, then contact MSFT legal.

    Or, you know, employ IT staff who do this sort of thing on a day in, day out basis and thus have a pretty good idea of how MSFT licensing works. Honestly this stuff isn't even nearly as complicated as some folk here are making out.

  • cbae

    , ScottWelker wrote

    ++@Richard.Hein (and others who expressed similar)

    See why some of us who are relatively partial to MS products sometimes seek open source alternatives?

    I feel like this nearly every time I try to recommend MS products - Office365 is a notable (pleasant) exception.

    Open source is another can of worms. If you misinterpret an open source license, you might be obliged to give up source code, which could be far costlier than having to pay a licensing fee that you weren't aware of.

  • kettch

    @AndyC: People can also call Microsoft Licensing directly. They are generally quite helpful.

  • evildictait​or

    , Bass wrote

    Fair enough. So basically, we can't trust brainkel's interpretation of the license and DrHerbie should get in contact with a Microsoft lawyer lest he put his company in legal jeopardy.

    Basically yes. brainkel might be a Microsoft employee and might be posting on a Microsoft forum on a subject that is close to his area of expertise (he is a Visual Studio Tech Evangelist commenting on Visual Studio licences), but that doesn't detract from the fact that he is a Technical Evangelist and not a lawyer, and so his statements are not legal advice and are not official Microsoft policy.

    I'm sure he'd be the first to agree that if you have any specific questions or need to have official confirmation about how your company is going about licencing Microsoft products, or have any query on licencing of any product at Microsoft, your first port of call (after the EULA and possibly your own legal team) would be legal@microsoft.com.

  • evildictait​or

    Open source is another can of worms. If you misinterpret an open source license, you might be obliged to give up source code, which could be far costlier than having to pay a licensing fee that you weren't aware of.

    ++. Suppose you run a games company and one of your staff uses GPL code to do encrypted-comms or graphics or uses a GPLed shader. Suddenly under the licence of the GPL you are obliged to either
    a) Settle with the EFF out of court for lots of money (which they don't have to accept)
    b) Withdraw your application and pay damages to the EFF
    c) GPL the entire of your source base, which means all of your competitors can demand all of your source code.

    Often if you're a small games company you'll have bought in source code that is incompatible with the GPL, which means option (c) is off the table, leaving your product in a really shaky place. That's why lots of firms (including Microsoft) are really careful to say to insist that employees don't touch GPLed code and to audit code to ensure that GPL source code never "contaminates" their private repositories.

  • ScottWelker

    @cbae: "Open source is another can of worms."

    My comments were intended in the context of products, e.g. TFS vs Subversion . Not source code. Different issues.

  • spivonious

    Wait...

    "So if you have 10 people on your team and they own VS Pro with an active MSDN Subscription then you now have 10 CAL's and 10 server licenses"

    Does that mean the MSDN subs need to be kept active to keep the CALs?

  • cbae

    , spivonious wrote

    Wait...

    "So if you have 10 people on your team and they own VS Pro with an active MSDN Subscription then you now have 10 CAL's and 10 server licenses"

    Does that mean the MSDN subs need to be kept active to keep the CALs?

    I would think you don't have to, unless the EULA is written specifically for how the CAL was acquired.

  • Bass

    @evildictaitor:

    I think you are confusing the EFF for the FSF. Even in the case of the FSF, they only own the copyright on software that is part of the GNU project. Software that is GPL-licensed but not part of the GNU project is copyright of their respected authors and their authors can decide to sue or not.

    But yes Microsoft themselves have been forced to open source code in the past because of licensing mistakes. http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/11/windows-7-tool-violates-gpl-microsoft-will-open-source-it.ars

  • W3bbo

    What about LGPL?

  • ScottWelker

    @Bass/@evildictaitor: But, again, we're talking about buying/using a product, TFS.

    I didn't mean to suggest one might find it easier to create their own TFS alternative using open source (code). I meant the very issue highlighted is sometimes so great that I am forced to consider and select a readily available, quality, open source product, e.g. Subversion; even when I believe TFS may be the better (technical) solution.

    I don't know Dr. Herbie or his company but if I hear I must involve the lawyers, my evaluation is over. I'm looking for something else.

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