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Are Microsoft License Verification requests legit?

Periodically, a company who purchased Microsoft licensing for business purposes (which is basically all of us) will get an email that often looks like the following:

The question we receive from our clients is “is this legit? Do we really have to conduct a licensing review?” The answer is, like with most questions… it depends.

In this case, the sending email address was “V-[first_initial][last_name]@microsoft.com”. The key to this email is the “V-“. In Microsoft context, that signifies the sender is a vendor who has been given a Microsoft email address so as to appear reputable. Microsoft has hired an outside company to send notifications to licensing customers that they have “been selected by Microsoft to complete a license verification review”. During this process, they will provide you with tools to automate the data collection, commonly referred to as a Software Asset Management (SAM). However, this is NOT a required review – in essence, you’re asking to opt-in to the review, and following the review, the vendor will “conveniently” provide you a quote for the licensing that they will invariably (and sometimes erroneously) determine that your company needs to purchase in order to be properly licensed. In this case, you are 100% able to opt-out, and only need to reply with an email that states something like:

Hi [first_name],

Thank you for reaching out.  We procure all of our licensing through a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner who helps us maintain proper license counts and as a result, we decline to take part in this optional review.  Please remove us from your list.

Best regards,

[your_name]

However, under the terms of the Microsoft license agreement, Microsoft does reserve the right to request a license compliance verification (audit). These requests do not come from a “V-” email address, and instead are sent by an accounting company in very impressive sounding legalese and will appear much more ominous in tone compared to the friendly and helpful language of a SAM request. However, these requests are very infrequent as Microsoft doesn’t have the bandwidth to chase down a company that may be a few licenses short, but has already demonstrated that they’ve purchased licensing through a valid, Gold Certified Partner. In our 30-year history, we have only had a handful of clients ever receive this request.

If you have more questions regarding the Microsoft SAM process or the Microsoft license compliance verification process, check out this FAQ article on the differences, or feel free to give us a call.