Microsoft actively polices for licensing contraventions.  Do not get caught out!

Microsoft is now closing the various loopholes that have emerged since the launch of Microsoft 365 on subscription.

Whilst there are some businesses who are aware they are ‘bending’ the rules by sharing and using licences in a way that contravene the terms and conditions of Microsoft licensing, some businesses are unwittingly doing this.

A Planned Contravention

An example of this would be to subscribe to two Business Standard licences with generic Microsoft ID’s, sales@ for example and then installing it to 10 PCs for 10 different staff members to use.

There is no issue if you as a person want to access your Microsoft account in full from 5 devices (laptop, work PC, tablet, mobile etc). But those installs are NOT FOR SHARING!

Microsoft is now actively policing tenants (on a random basis) and if there is evidence that licensing policies are being contravened, businesses can expect an Audit Request

If the audit decision dictates, then customers can be retrospectively billed.

An unwitting contravention

A business has deployed 3 off Business Premium licences to gain the additional security and policy advantages this licence type offers.  The rest of the staff are licensed with Business Basic and Business Standard.

The business requires the additional security provided by Business Premium to meet Cyber Essentials (for example).

The current format of Business Premium forces the security benefits out across the rest of the Microsoft tenant.

This is great news on the face of it as everyone is now benefitting from the enhancements of Business Premium? Right?


You may get audited for this because the Business Basic licences are benefitting from the Business Premium licence security capabilities.

You may have a case to plea, but this will take time and effort. Microsoft may back down, or it may not.

How to avoid this contravention

If in the above scenario, the business provides Business Basic licences to mobile service engineers, and shop floor staff using a tablet to provide them with access to Teams, SharePoint, mailboxes then moving them from Business Basic to F3 (Frontline worker) licences, would not contravene licensing as the security measures in Business Premium and F3 are comparable.  The rest of the office-based team who use laptops and PC’s would need Business Premium.

(An F3 licence will only allow access to Microsoft Office apps on screens smaller than 10.9 inches and does not facilitate ‘hot desking’ as other Microsoft licences do)

In summary – Microsoft is applying time and resource to providing the most comprehensive licensing portfolio to support its customers whilst applying parameters and policing to licenses to ensure Terms and Conditions are met.

How to get your Microsoft 365 portfolio right

Your People

Your business is made up of people and it is people and what they do in their working lives that should determine the licensing functionality required.

Your Business

These people work in your business which will have over arching requirements to meet various aspects of the operation, security being a prime example.

Compare the matrix of staff requirements to the licences available and then review licences available across Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise licensing.

Thought for the Day

Microsoft licensing can be a minefield but if you get your portfolio right then the Microsoft 365 suite will serve you well.  A deeply knowledgeable Microsoft partner will be able to work with you on your matrices to advise you of which licence mix will meet your needs, keep you compliant and respect your budget.  Contact Qi today.

Don’t get caught out!
Qi Microsoft Gold Partner