Business Tech Playbook

#23 – Cracked & Licensed Software

1 month ago
Transcript
Speaker A:

You. This is the business tech playbook, your source for it, help for your business. All right, so BJ, I have downloaded my cracked version of Doom from the early ninety s and I'm ready to do the podcast.

Speaker B:

You ready to do the podcast with your version of Doom?

Speaker A:

Oh, I saw the notes here and it said crack software. Are we recording as the topic here? So I downloaded some software to prepare for my notes. Is that incorrect?

Speaker B:

I think we're doing this backwards. As long as you're not doing it on company equipment and as long as you don't tell me about it anymore, I think it might be okay. I'm your host, Rob Zolt, software from the 90s. Honestly, cracking it might be the only way to use it at this point, but I'm BJ poet, Etop technology business tech playbook. And we're here to talk today a bit about software, the pain of subscriptions. We recognize they can be a pain. And then also just using cracked and unlicensed software in your company.

Speaker A:

And I know that means super.

Speaker B:

Right. And what it means, the risks, the ramifications. I mean, the entire point of our podcast is to talk about the risk to your business and how to mitigate it.

Speaker A:

Yeah, for those that are listening and maybe you worked a job, maybe you've heard about another company that hasn't paid for their software that somehow found a copy from their cousin or that friend that said, hey, don't worry about it, I got a copy and runs it on your business. This podcast is for you for sure.

Speaker B:

Absolutely. Well, and we're going to dive into, I promise we'll keep it high level because you start talking about licensing and Microsoft software, and I can feel my own eyes glazing over and like, and this is what we do for a living. Right. We'll keep it high level, but then we'll kind of go into some of the different nuances of things. So that way, hopefully you understand how and why this is important, not just this is bad.

Speaker A:

So to start the conversation, we're going to pick three cases because there's a million different softwares out there, and we're going to give you generalistic examples of how most software handles it. In your specific case, in your specific software, there might be exceptions to the rule and how they handle things. So we're going to definitely use Microsoft subscriptions, whether it's Windows or office or as we call it, 365 subscriptions. We're going to talk a little bit about Adobe and their suite of products. And I don't know what's one more bonus, one that we could talk about that's common that you've personally dealt with in the past.

Speaker B:

BJ I'll say those are the biggest ones by far.

Speaker A:

How about know? Haven't had a ton of issues with Intuit, but I don't typically see cracked.

Speaker B:

Software with intuit so much as just out of date software.

Speaker A:

I think that would be a good example.

Speaker B:

We can talk about that example, talking about licensing. Exactly. Sure.

Speaker A:

So we'll use those three examples. Know that your software could have its own unique charms, and talk to a professional about it. And of course, always consult your lawyer about any legal matters of your business.

Speaker B:

And your software vendor. Realistically, I know it may feel like they're on the opposite side of the table as you, but at the same time, if you're paying them and you're keeping things up to date, it makes you a much better client to work with for them.

Speaker A:

So let's start with the commanderity of Windows. When you buy a computer, it comes with a license. People don't know this. They're like, oh, it just comes with Windows. They don't know it's a license deal. So when you go to a Walmart, when you go to a retail store, a best buy, and you get that computer, you in a purchase agreement with that computer, when you buy that computer comes with a Windows key. Whether it's a Windows home key for your retail use or you paid a little bit of extra money for a higher end computer for a Windows professional license, that computer already came pre licensed. And generally speaking, when you buy it from Adele, a Lenovo, IBM, whatever brand, and you pay that 599, that $1,000, that $1,500, all of that licensing cost is baked into that computer. So when you sit there and have to go, well, I never paid for Windows, that's exactly what you did upon purchase. It came with the machine. So from the get go, we already have a lapse in people not understanding about licensing because they didn't have to do an agreement. They didn't buy a computer, they didn't buy the license, they didn't connect it and make some sort of account. It was just there for them already. It was out of sight, out of mind. But that is already an agreement that came with the purchase of your computer. So to start with, 100%. Yeah, even if you're not using a computer in business, which you are, because you're listening to this podcast, your home computers already are a licensed machine, you're already in that agreement with that software.

Speaker B:

Windows specifically comes in two different major flavors. You're going to see home and pro. There are some workstation versions and some enterprise versions that you can get, but the reality is home and pro are going to be your two main pieces of software that you see if you go and buy it from Best Buy or you buy any of the consumer level brands. So like if you go buy an Alienware from Dell, 99% chance it's going to come with home. Unless you specify Pro. The Pro version like home might be fine for some of your business needs, but let's realistically look at it. It won't function with most of the 365 management tools. If you do not want to have any kind of management of the machine, home is okay. It really is designed for people to use at home. The pro versions allow you to do policies, lock things down really centrally, manage your tools and manage your endpoints which would be a computer. And oftentimes we don't even really see Windows being cracked as much as the office tools. I haven't seen that as much as people have started to go on to 365 and Microsoft includes office licensing. I haven't seen that in a business in quite a long time. Actually I did see it last year. I forgot about that. Well one of their I was going.

Speaker A:

To pause there before we get off the topic. We're rushing. So on the home versus Pro, we're not going to go into a ton of details on the differences. Know that to do normal business you would have to have pro. You can't connect to a domain, meaning it can't be controlled with different login passwords, an actual business login environment, just the top couple that are most important on top of the head. Again, the management tools, you can't do automated updates, you can't do remote desktop tools that come with the windows. So to do anything besides a mom and pop shop where you just need the one application and you need nothing special, you have to have a professional edition of Windows to actually do real business. So know that. And if you want to look into this, you can just literally Google Windows Home versus Pro. The first link is Microsoft's website showing a laundry list of differences between the home and pro versions. So check that out. But yeah, getting back into the office category, I'd like to talk a little bit about the beginnings of office because this used to be all software. Used to be purchase it, you own it, it's your piece of software until we no longer support it. So if you bought back in 2007, you had the clippy icon that was a purchased piece of software. You paid $150, maybe you got it through a school license, whatever it was, and you owned that piece of software and you owned it until they no longer supported it and they had an end of life. Was it five years, six years, whatever it may be.

Speaker B:

And a lot of people still use that piece of software for ten years, right.

Speaker A:

They use it well past support and where it couldn't really function to the full form. And that's just how software was. And you would have a CD with a key and you type in that.

Speaker B:

Key code in so long.

Speaker A:

Yeah, it'd be like what, 16 digits of random numbers and characters and then suddenly that was how you licensed it.

Speaker B:

It was 25 random numbers. I think it was five octets of five. Yeah.

Speaker A:

So literally you could go to Walmart, get a plastic case, open it, there was a disc in there, you would install it from the disk, that holographic.

Speaker B:

Key thing on it, you could flap on your computer, it would be a.

Speaker A:

Sticker so you could put it on your computer and not lose it. But it ended up just rubbing off your computer anyway.

Speaker B:

Exactly. Well, and then they switched over to downloadable versions and so you'd get these key cards. So the retail versions of office, and I don't think we've bought a retail version of office in five years. That's funny, I haven't. Not so fond memories.

Speaker A:

Yeah, it's not fond memories, and it's not fond because the downloading of that was really difficult to support. You didn't know what patch it was on. When you got a disk, you got whatever version it was left with. You had people on different flavors. One was 2007, another one was 2010, someone got upgraded in 2016 and then those had different versions. So if you saved a word document in 2007, opened it in 2016, it could convert and do it. But let's say that you had 2016 and someone needed to open up in 2007. Oh, that was a problem now. So trying to keep up with versions, editions and documentation in an actual business environment was hell for us. For us in it.

Speaker B:

No, to 2007, that was back when they were doing service pack release like actual SP One, SP two, SP three type releases for Outlook. And you couldn't connect Outlook 2007 to exchange until you were on like service Pack three. But you had to do, if you had the disk or even the ICE, you converted the disk to an ISO that lived on the server, you install it with whichever version of service pack it came with and then you spend like 4 hours updating it to the latest version. So that way people could actually work. And now realistically we just push out the latest current version of office that gets released every two months.

Speaker A:

It's just done for you in the application. It's so easy breezy. Someone has a problem. I'm like, did you update? Did it not automatically update? Have you rebooted your computer in the last week? Oh, you didn't reboot your computer in the last week? They reboot and somehow it's magically there. It was just never a problem all along.

Speaker B:

Well, and at this point, office doesn't even have year titles with, it's literally just office 365. And so we're getting little micro updates every month. I think we run etop on advanced channel. So what that means is basically we're getting updates basically almost in beta, which means kind of ahead of the game. And so now stuff hits us, we know what's coming ahead of what hit our clients, and then we keep our clients in like current, I think it's current slow release, which is like twice a year, three times a year.

Speaker A:

Nice. So that way we're not tested.

Speaker B:

It's the more stable version. Typically vendors are able to keep up with it, that kind of thing.

Speaker A:

So now put yourself in an IT point of view. We have to manage, let's pretend 50 endpoints, all these different flavors of software. We have to make sure they're up to date, and we have to run around with the chicken with their head cut off just for one flavor of software. Then we have the fun time of activation. Right? An activation back in the day was a goofy process. You get these 25 character keys, for some reason wouldn't activate properly, and technicians would just get flat frustrated because Microsoft support wasn't bad now, it wasn't good then, trust me, it was, was.

Speaker B:

I think it was better then because I feel like they actually cared. And even if they were not local, they were at least Microsoft employees. And now everyone's pretty much just outsourced.

Speaker A:

Hey, I'm the one wearing rose colored glasses, trust me. I don't remember it being that good. So you had some privileged California support. I didn't have that.

Speaker B:

It was like because we're West coast, and so we get the Redmond discount on quality support.

Speaker A:

We got the toothless Midwest support, you know what I'm saying? That's what we got. So you get so frustrated that you'd walk into environments and the IT technicians would do a thing called cracking. We talked about this at the beginning of the podcast, and what it would be is instead of using that license key. They would find a way to manipulate the software so it would either fake or not require a license key and actually not have that software licensed. They would crack it in purpose because they say that, hey, I have a key, it's just not functioning. I don't have time to deal with Microsoft support. They would crack the license.

Speaker B:

I hate saying it is a valid.

Speaker A:

Argument. It's an argument. It might not be a legal argument.

Speaker B:

But maybe not even a good argument. But it is a valid one. Yes, because I think we've both probably been on that side of the pain at some point.

Speaker A:

I think anybody our age that's done it from the beginning has lived a little bit of that.

Speaker B:

Then you're finding yourself on sketchy cracks.

Speaker A:

Wears sketchy?

Speaker B:

Yeah. You know, when they intentionally misspell stuff.

Speaker A:

Then you can't update it, you can't patch it. And then you have to reinstall a new flavor and recrack it every time and it becomes this big hell in a handbasket. So that was when you were cracking what I say less ##liciously right. You have a key, you were trying to troubleshoot. You try to find a way around it. Then people were just flat cracking maliciously. I don't want to pay for it. My budy found a way to crack it. I want a copy of it. I'm not going to pay the $150 or whatever it is to purchase the software. And they just flat steal it. And stealing is wrong. If you want to argue the point that stealing software is wrong, it is. Some guy out there decided to make himself a business by making something, supporting something, and you're just going to take it away. There is no wrong way of explaining that that is stealing. Just because it's easy to click the copy button and ignore a license doesn't make it any less stealing.

Speaker B:

Well, we're going to try to avoid talking too much about our hacker wears pass because no hacker wears pass.

Speaker A:

It's just business. You can't steal things. Now here's why you can't steal things. When you're Microsoft, they have these things and they've had it for as long as they've done software. They're a big boy company. They go out and they have teams of people that look and do software audits. Now BJ, here's the segue. Tell us about experiences with software audits and how they work.

Speaker B:

So pro tip, most of the time you can just ignore or because they're couched in, hey, software audit, we're going to help you figure out the compliance of your network. And if you have substantial amounts of software assurance, software assurance is effectively like Microsoft's older versions of subscription software where you could buy 500 server licenses and then you buy assurance and that means you get support and that means you get updates for however long you buy the assurance for. If you have that, you do have to go through the audits and they do suck. You have to make sure you have the right number of VMs licensed or servers. So VM is a virtual machine server, whatever the. Actually, it might be fun to do an entire podcast on virtualization at some point, like kind of explain it high level.

Speaker A:

Let's just keep it windows licenses three n office for now.

Speaker B:

Yeah, just generally speaking, people would like, corporations would buy, or larger corporations would buy 10,000 licenses on a volume license and they'd buy software assurance. They typically are going to have to go through the audit. But now if you get something from V, Microsoft. So V stands for vendor over at Microsoft. So if you see a V [email protected] know that's an outside vendor that they've basically paid to do a complimentary audit. Well, if you do decide to start that audit, you start putting in all your information, it can come back to bite you. I'd highly recommend not doing it, but we have gone through a couple of those where people replied and decided it was worth going through and we had to go and pull server keys, license keys, endpoint keys. I mean, it was probably a seven page spreadsheet of just trying to make sure we documented everything properly because I really wanted to make sure that my client didn't get dinged on anything. And so it was explaining exactly all of these workstations came with OEM licenses. Here's how we use the volume license key for this. And it's really explaining, making sure that you don't overdo things.

Speaker A:

So just a little higher level. There's two methods that you see audits come from that you explained the vendor that you spoke of, which is more or less optional. Check into where that comes from. If it's vendor, don't necessarily just willingly give a ton of information. Start asking questions before free form jazzing all your information of your business, which I would recommend doing anyway. Someone asked business questions like hey, what are you guys doing over there? I'm like, none your business. That's what's happening.

Speaker B:

I'm stealing that.

Speaker A:

Yeah, none your business. But there is a Microsoft doing it and they sometimes come with teeth. That isn't a vendor. And when Microsoft knocks on the door and comes with teeth and says, hey, we're Microsoft. We require an audit. We see here that you only purchased 20 keys and we see on the outside that your business is somewhere in the department of 350 users. We're a little confused and we're going to require an audit from you.

Speaker B:

It's no longer a, this is where that numbers meme or GiF comes up, where that's kind of like that. Confused. Oh, the math doesn't add up.

Speaker A:

Right. This is where it's no longer optional. And when people say no longer optional, hey, they're not police, they don't have a warrant, they're not allowed in my business. What do you say to those people? BJ, we've lived through both of these.

Speaker B:

You installed the software, it's called a terms of service. You agreed to it.

Speaker A:

So that cool thing that you clicked.

Speaker B:

Welcome to legal agreement.

Speaker A:

Yeah, the cool thing you click to at the front of the software legally bounded you to the software's agreement terms and service. And the terms of service says that you get audited or you have legal ramifications. So if you don't let them audit and they knock on your door and say, sorry, we have to audit you and you deny them that term. Dinging and again, this is just generic terms. This is not official legal terms is.

Speaker B:

They will have lawyers, isn't an official legal team legal term.

Speaker A:

You will now be part of Microsoft's legal prowess and they will come after you and they have rights to fine you because you didn't do the audit. And to the tune of a lot of money if you didn't want to do any of the audit. They're going to assume that none of your endpoints are licensed and they're going to charge you for all the endpoint licenses and a bunch of other fees because you didn't. And we're talking to the tune of six to seven figures depending on how big your company is. I have personally lived through other businesses that I was in where they had a mixture of different software where it was just like we spoke about the keys in a drawer that they saved, where someone purchased it, it came with the computer and then they had a mishmash environment that wasn't well documented. So when they went through, they took months to do their audit because they didn't have their P's and Q's all lined up and they just couldn't find the keys. They got dinged for everything that was missing but at one point was actually legit and purchased just because they didn't keep good documentation and didn't do a good enough audit.

Speaker B:

And I'll be honest, this is a very big reason why at etop we've slowly. Not slowly, I mean, like over the last five years, we've effectively made it. Every single user has the same version of office through office 365.

Speaker A:

No.

Speaker B:

Suddenly if somebody comes knocking for an audit, we can go all PCs or laptops, they have OEM keys from Dell that checks that box. All office installs are from office 365. Here's a screenshot of licenses inside of the tenant. And it's, go away.

Speaker A:

Yeah, there's zero exception. We don't have any legacy software keys. And here's the license. They didn't even need an audit at that point. They're like, okay, thank you. Great working with you. Fantastic being a partner. High five. Bye. We'll never talk to you again. Or if they do, they'll just know that it's in a portal and move on.

Speaker B:

And I will say the one semi caveat to that is for our clients that are still heavier on premise. There are typically going to be licenses for the servers. And so licenses come in two or three main. I'm going to say they come in two flavors. You're going to have the server side and then you're going to have cals. So basically the Cal is the license per user. So Microsoft, if I buy a server license, doesn't include any access by users. So I'll pay $1,000 for the license to have server and then if I want 50 users using it, I get to pay the privilege. Pay for the privilege of users accessing it. Yeah.

Speaker A:

Cal is client access license, just like you described it. It's the license for how many people can access it at once.

Speaker B:

And Cals can come in two flavors, so they come in user or device access. So if you have a 50 device network and you have 100 users, buy device cals because then it's licensed per device. And I want to be clear, this is anything that can get a dhcp IP address from a server. So this could be a computer, this could be a cell phone, this could be anything on that network that's getting an IP from a server and it.

Speaker A:

Works the other way around. It's just making. So you can find a way to make it cheaper. If for some reason you have 100 computers but only 75 employees, user licenses is going to be cheaper for you. You got people like us trying to figure out ways of making this work. This is one of those times.

Speaker B:

And I'm kind of in the mindset of we try to do everything right with Microsoft all the time because our livelihood depends on it. But then at the same time I recognize they're a $3 trillion capitalization or market cap company and so they make plenty of money. And so I end up looking at it. If we buy user cows, I don't have a problem. If that person happens to have a phone and a computer running off that same license. I don't lose any sleep over things like that because we try to do it so right.

Speaker A:

The rest of the time we work for you. We don't work for Microsoft. We've lived enough life that we make enough business decisions to protect the business from Microsoft, if that makes any sense to.

Speaker B:

We tell a very compelling story about why you're doing it. Right?

Speaker A:

Yeah, we go to sleep at night knowing that if we get audited, we're going to come out clean at the end of the day now. So that's microsoftist on a high level. Yes. They'll come in and do the audit. And when they knock on the door, the two things that you need to do is immediately stop yourself and make a audit preparation team. You should be contacting your legal department, notifying them of Microsoft and all the communications that you're requiring, bar none, number one. Number two, make that team. Just stop. Here's the five, six people. And immediately make a game plan of where are our licenses at? Where's this? And try to prepare for whatever they're going to ask for. And if you need some real recommendations and you're about to get audited and you want some questions, give us a call. Etop technology. You can email us at [email protected] we've relived it. We can help you out.

Speaker B:

And even if it's just you need some guidance, we're happy to help. And the other real big reason to stay current on licensing, and this is something that's going to flow through all aspects of software. 20 years ago, software was perpetual, which means you bought it and it was yours for the life of the software. As Rob said, unfortunately, with our security landscape, that is no longer an acceptable risk because you need to have your software consistent and up to date, never end of life and always in a situation where you can patch it. Because if you can't run Windows update and get the latest security patches, your company is at a massive risk. Yes, some recent statistics I've seen show close to 60% of hacks were preventable if they had just run updates that.

Speaker A:

Were already out back in the day when we used to use this perpetual software and a key. We used to never have the idea that opening a word document could be a path into your computer and compromise the entire network and your machine. That wasn't even a thought. A word doc, something where you just put plain text in, where you just send a memo or write a brochure, that is one of the more common vulnerabilities is using an unpatched way old perpetual license to have a vulnerability in such things as word docs, Excel sheets, PDFs with macros wide open on these old clients, which you just can't do anymore. Business has changed. We needed to have it updated, patch and secured. And you can't do that with old perpetual model. You have to do it with a SaaS a month to month, a software as a service model that automatically keeps it up to date and secure at the end of the day. That's the biggest reason people can say it's like, oh, it's easier to Bill. It's monthly, it's yearly. However you want to cut the cheese, you're still paying the money. That at the end of the day is the convenience of you keeping auditors off your back because you're licensed correctly and you have it secured and up to date for your users, making sure everybody's on the same page. So it just works.

Speaker B:

And that is a big part of us doing it, right? Correct. Is just making sure that it works because people don't make money when they're down, they don't get make money when they're ransomed, they don't make money dealing with audits. People make money doing what their business does. And so it's a pretty small price to pay in the overall scheme of your business to make sure it's just done right.

Speaker A:

So I think that covers kind of the high points of a general audit and how software licensing does broad scale. But we'll go a little bit more into Adobe Quick. Adobe uses a different bunch of different licensing in Hawaii. So common is using the PC.

Speaker B:

You should cheat Adobe. You should. They're terrible company. Oh, wait, sorry, did I say that out loud?

Speaker A:

All right, Steve Jobs coming out from the grave.

Speaker B:

Oh, sorry.

Speaker A:

No. There's this wonderful PDF format. The idea of having a PDF type document is having a published document that in essence is trying to be a published, finalized, not to be edited document. If you give someone a word doc, they can easily go in, edit the type and move on with their life. If you give them a PDF, that is a finalized, it's very difficult to edit that document. So Adobe does that with their licensing for Adobe Acrobat and a lot of other their suite. That's their big bread and butter to try to use Adobe Reader, which is a free tool, and Adobe Acrobat, which is a paid for tool. We have tons of people asking questions about why does Adobe Reader not let me do this? Well, that's part of the paid for version of the full Adobe Acrobat suite. So Adobe Acrobat lets you do the full editing publishing of every feature that you can do on a PDF. Adobe Reader only lets you fill in boxes, print out, read and look at these documents. So if you let's pretend me, I'm Rob's I paid for Adobe, I made a document and I want to send it over to BJ just to fill out the blanks I created. I paid for Adobe Acrobat. I send him a document he can download and open it in Adobe reader without having to pay for it, still fill in my form and move on with life without having to pay a dime on his side. That is the general idea. So people really got in bed and really liked using Adobe Acrobat for PDFs. So that is one that throughout the years we've seen continually cracked because people don't understand why something as simple as a PDF needs to have licensing. So that's probably the most googled thing to find a free version of or some other competitor that download a free version of to edit and enable PDFs. And Adobe has a large suite of photo editing video editing software through their Adobe cloud products that marketing agencies use. And just a couple horror stories to add what we didn't add about Microsoft, companies that have intellectual properties such as these commonly get cracked all the time because people want to use it going through college and they had a student key that was either free or little cost that they learned in college for graphic design business class like Adobe PDF. And then suddenly they're out in the business world and they just realize, hey, that's no longer free or next to free. And I have to pay how much? $500, $600 a year for this suite of business products. And immediately they stop. I can't afford that. I just got out of college, this is what I got my entire career on. And they go crack it. And businesses, this is one in my professional experience have seen cracked in businesses over and over again. I'd say 40% of the time in the Midwest, I don't know, California.

Speaker B:

I feel like those good, honest Midwesterners are definitely the crackers and hackers.

Speaker A:

But here's the thing. The Midwesterners don't know tech. So it was somebody like their cousin or the IT firm that was malicious that set them up and didn't tell them that they didn't pay for it.

Speaker B:

I want to be clear. Sometimes it's it folks that are doing this on your behalf without you knowing it, which also puts you at risk. And so ask some real questions and be really tough on it. But then sometimes clients can be just cheap, which is why we don't have those clients anymore. Right. Some of what has solved this problem is, like you said 20 years ago, people went and got their graphic design, or they literally got the Adobe student edition, which was like $100. Whatever it was, it was basically free 99. But they're doing it to get you hooked. And then when you go into your professional life, suddenly you need this full version. And so Adobe Acrobat was 399 499 for the pro version when you could buy it perpetually. And now it's, I think, 24 99 or $30 a month for the pro version per person. If you want the full Adobe Acrobat like creative cloud suite, I mean, you're pushing 70, $80 per person per month. But a lot of businesses realized that was the smarter way to go, because now, instead of having to buy a $3,000 full suite license every two years, three years, they'll just pay for it monthly and just be up to date, and they don't have to worry about it anymore. Right.

Speaker A:

So when we're being an MSP, when we go out and we take on a new client, or a client has interest, saying, hey, I want a quote. I want to see what your services offer, the whole thing. We can't just say, well, this is our McDonald's menu. We can't do that. We have to go through what we call an engagement audit. So we go through, and we have to audit what you got, just like.

Speaker B:

I'd like to be clear assessment. Because we aren't CPas. We don't do audits.

Speaker A:

Assessment.

Speaker B:

Sorry, I have to be pedantic there.

Speaker A:

The term has changed so much through the years, and every other business has different branding names and marketeers on it. So, yes, assessment is a much better word. I like that much better. Because we do nothing of certifying anything. All we're doing is trying to see what you have so we can make a better understanding of how to help you. That's the bottom line. What it is. There is no certification afterwards. Let me be very clear on that.

Speaker B:

Thank you.

Speaker A:

We go through the business and we go through and we check each machine. We see exactly the health of each computer, each server, the network, what hardware you're using, what software licensing you're on, what support you're getting, and we go through blind. And when we come out, we should at least have a good grasp of what's going on with your business. And we go through and find this and go saying, hey, your business is using cracked Adobe licenses. I don't know when this started, but if we're going to help you, we can't have that. And they're going, how much does this cost? Well, $80 per employee, and you have 200 employees. And then they go, get out. I can't help you.

Speaker B:

But then it also becomes a risk we're not willing to take.

Speaker A:

We can't do business with you. I'm sorry, because that's on us as well. We're there to help you. And then an audit comes around. We're going to live and breathe that, and we're supposed to support these things that are cracked and can't up to date and have a big, wide window into your network? No, thank you. Now, that's one thing that people can't support. You. Now take it as an employee. You work for this head company. You know that they're not using the licensed software. Suddenly you get mad whether it's pay something that happened at work. You leave and then you go, hey, Mr. Adobe, I know some information you might want to know. Adobe goes, oh, do tell. And they're like, hey, so and so company, I just worked for, 200 employees. None of their software is licensed. And they're going, is that right? Well, here's a nice stipend for that information. So they literally give that person a kickback to tattle on that company. And if you don't think that doesn't happen, Google it. They literally advertise to people to report these things for rewards. That happens in all these different software companies in some degree.

Speaker B:

It's reporting bsa.org. Yes, and it literally is. I want to report an organization or business that is using or installing more software than it has licenses for.

Speaker A:

Yeah, it doesn't have to be cracked. It could just be like, eh, I just think they're wrong. And if they find anything wrong, you're going to get a kickback. That's a bit of a nightmare for your company. And it happens all the time. I've seen it happen many times.

Speaker B:

I'm grateful we haven't seen that. But a lot of that comes down to staying on top of our clients licensing and making sure that they are within compliance. As much as we can possibly tell that way, we're telling if there ever happens to be an issue, we're telling a good story and we're walking them forward to being, trust me, like sprawl happens. Like if you buy a 45 or 50 user key and they go to 54 or 55 users and you don't realize it, it's a lot easier of a story to tell than I bought a license and I'm going to install it on everyone's computer. I bought a single user license and it's been installed 45 places. So it's about making sure that you're doing the right thing as much as possible.

Speaker A:

Yes. And just to let you know, they could even be an active employee because these little reporting agencies make sure to make it as anonymous as possible. Just make sure that the whistleblower isn't affected. Now that happens commonly in marketing agencies with Adobe. But the other intricacies that I don't think we covered necessarily in Microsoft is the account sharing. Microsoft commonly uses multi factor authentication, or if you haven't set it up, certainly do so. But it's generally one user. If you have a Microsoft account, it is your [email protected]. Adobe licenses are commonly $80 for one user. Suddenly they will try to find a way to share that between five, six other users. And account sharing is just as risky as not having the users licensed. And it happens more often in the creative software suites. Maybe not necessarily Adobe, but it's harder to do in a Microsoft account. When you have an email address, that's your email. Generally you're not sharing your email with other people. So in office, it's a little harder to do. In Adobe, all you need to do is edit a video, PDF or a picture. They're going to try and swap that software around the office, and that's part of the audit. So know that that's an issue that they're going to be looking out for as well. Your face. This is not a happy tune either. We got to do a happy podcast here.

Speaker B:

No, I'm fine. I just real life.

Speaker A:

The last thing that we talked about was talking a little bit about Intuit and intuit, meaning QuickBooks, other softwares like that. QuickBooks is the one I like to pick on is software that's out of date and out of support. We talked a little bit about it in the perpetual licenses, but in QuickBooks they do have the SaaS model, the software as a service model, but people still, even on the software as a service model, intentionally don't want to update because they don't want the features to change. In some accounting agencies or some businesses, especially mom and pop shops, when they're on 2019, they still see that they could balance out a checkbook in 2019, do their balance out their taxes, whatever they're trying to do in Quickbooks, and they don't want to update to the latest version. I've seen this continually, even though they're paying monthly for this, they just refuse the update. Doing that again, we talked about security, but what they don't understand is those documents, excuse me, documents. Those company files that they make in Quickbooks don't transfer over after a certain period of time. So let's say that you wanted to go.

Speaker B:

No, they actually do. The only time I've seen that be a real issue was when somebody had a QuickBooks 2005 or something, 2006, and they were trying to go to 2016. You had to install an intermediary version. So they actually gave you a key to install, like 2007 because the database type switched. I've gone from 2016 to 2022, or like 2022 without a problem.

Speaker A:

The last one I had was a 2015 and the Quickbooks company file. And here's the asterisk in the room. The Quickbooks company file would not automatically update to 2023. They had to submit the company file to quickbooks to update or try to use the tool, which failed. They had a tool to migrate and move the image. They sent it into quickbooks. Quickbooks came back to them two weeks later and said, sorry, we can only get part of your data because it's corrupt and there's only so much we can do. There was no backups. There was no support for it. If you were on this version and had a backup, we could help you and support you. And there was no integrity of it, no checking it. So as much as they have tools and whatnot, I'd still like to stay in support. I'd still like to have backups, and I'd still like to have that SaaS program supported. Now, I'm glad to hear that they are going to attempt to help you all the way back to 2005. That makes me a lot happier to hear.

Speaker B:

They shouldn't know. Okay, let's be honest. No quickbooks. So just for plain and simple, at the end of the day, intuit supports three years of Quickbooks. So right now we're in 24. That means they'll support 22, 23, and 24. They're ending 21 support for 21 in May. I believe it is May, beginning of two months. So this podcast is being recorded on March 15 of 2024, and so they're basically discontinuing support for 21 in about two and a half months. Great. So part of what happens is now you have a problem with your QuickBooks file on a 2019. You can't get support on that unless you upgrade to 21 or 24. Also, you're at a point where after this year, you won't be able to purchase a desktop version of QuickBooks unless you have a subscription. This year, they will support Quickbooks going forward if you have an existing subscription. But they are trying to wind down their business like their desktop version of QuickBooks because it's just honestly a lot more work to support than their QuickBooks online one.

Speaker A:

So hopefully that gave you a bit of perspective with three different companies of software and using cracked versions and trying to decide whether to use perpetual licenses if they still exist in some form. Certainly don't do that. And if you're having troubles, someone wanting to do an audit with you, you have questions and need support and help. [email protected] come talk to us. We'd certainly be able to help you.

Speaker B:

Right on. So we say that to say we know licensing can be boring. We apologize. Hopefully we're funny enough as the two of us to keep you listening and entertained. But having correct licensing is one of the best ways you can protect your business, along with your basic security, along with backups, along with just having a partner that cares. So whether that's your IT partner, your IT person, whomever that is, make sure that they're doing their best to do it right.

Speaker A:

Until the next one, guys, thank you. You.

Episode Notes

For more episodes got to http://businesstechplaybook.com

Find more on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-pote-75a87233

This podcast is provided by the team at Etop Technology: https://etoptechnology.com/

Special thanks to Giga for the intro/outro sounds: https://soundcloud.com/gigamusicofficial