Microsoft test and evaluation software and production environments, what is allowed?

Are organizations allowed to run Microsoft test or evaluation software within their production environment? Again a simple question but there is no simple answer. We need to split this question into two topics: software for (development) and test, and evaluation versions.

Evaluation software

Microsoft provides free of charge evaluation software as a direct download on the internet. For example Microsoft Windows Server 2019. This software can be used for 180 days and is intended to evaluate if the product is right for you. Can one use this evaluation version within a production environment? No, one cannot.
The legal ground for that answer can be found in the Software License Terms (SLT) to which users of the evaluation version have to agree to when installing and using the software. The SLT states:

EVALUATION USE RIGHTS. If you acquired an evaluation version of the software, then the EVALUATION USE RIGHTS described in this section apply to your use of the software:
• You may use the software only to test, demonstrate, and internally evaluate it.
• You may not use the software in a live operating environment unless Microsoft permits you to do so under another agreement.

Development and test software

Certain Microsoft software is available specifically for test and development purposes, like SQL Server Developer Edition. The terms of use for SQL Server Developer Edition are put to the user’s computer in a file and are not freely available on the internet. In the License Terms will be written down what we find in the SQL Server Licensing datasheet:

Licensing for non-production use
SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition provides a fully featured version of SQL Server software—including all the features and capabilities of Enterprise Edition—licensed for development, test and demonstration purposes only.
Customers may install and run the SQL Server Developer Edition software on any number of devices. This is significant because it allows customers to run the software on multiple devices (for testing purposes, for example) without having to license each non-production server system for SQL Server.
A production environment is defined as an environment that is accessed by end-users of an application (such as an Internet website) and that is used for more than gathering feedback or acceptance testing of that application.

Again, the answer to the question if the software can be used within (live) production environments is ‘no’.

License verification or audit

Related to what we have written above, using the evaluation or test/development version of the software within the production (i.e. live operating environment) therefore is an infringement of copyright law. When you as an organization enter into a license verification and such use is detected there will be consequences for the organization (still buy the appropriate license, possible fine and payment for the audit might be the case).
Especially for SQL Server … because SQL Server Developer edition contains SQL Server Enterprise Edition functionality, buying the appropriate license when used in a production environment is a very expensive one.

What to do?

When you want to evaluate software for a short period of time in a separated test environment, the evaluation version is just fine. Do you want to test the software for a longer period than the time limit or do you need software for test and development purposes, you can subscribe to the Microsoft Software Development Network (MSDN) on a per test-user basis. Also the Visual Studio subscriptions on Azure will give you rights to some of the Microsoft software for development and testing purposes.

Might you doubt if your test or development environment is licensed correctly, please consider one of our Software Asset Management of License Consulting services to help you. Or simple contact us to discuss options and assistance.

Team Quexcel
The Power of Knowledge

Subscribe to newsletter
U moet javascript aan hebben staan om dit formulier te kunnen versturen.