Licensing terms

This page is sponsored by EMS Professional Software, the world's leading vendor of materials from obsolete development tools and operating systems. Please seek expert legal advice before relying on any of these definitions in determining licensing. The following terms are personal opinions regarding definitions of terms commonly used by software producers to describe their various products. Precise definitions may possibly be obtained from the industry groups BSA or SIIA or elsewhere, but EMS has been unable to locate them.

Academic - Software produced for sale to students and qualified educational institutions only. Also called "Scholar", "Educational Use Only" and similar terms. The manufacturer often states that users may not seek technical support from the manufacturer. Upgrades may or may not be possible. EMS only sells academic products after presentation of a copy of a current student or faculty ID, or school purchase order on school letterhead. Microsoft's Academic Price qualification requirements are on Other vendors' requirements may vary.

Academically Priced - See Academic

Certificate of Authenticity (COA) - A document or hologram which is difficult to copy, and whose presence indicates that the product is genuine. Forged COAs are not uncommon. The presence of a genuine COA is not the same thing as a license to use software.

COA - See certificate of authenticity.

Competitive Upgrade - Upgrade for users of competing products from other manufacturers. Usually also allows upgrades from previous versions of same product.

Direct packaging - Some software vendors used plain (white or brown) box packaging, instead of the colorful packaging useful in retail sales, when selling and shipping directly to customers. Identical in contents and licensing, but less desirable for collectors.

Easy Fulfillment - (replaced by Microsoft's World Wide Fulfillment Program) program to provide media and manuals to customers who are already licensed to use the software. "Microsoft Easy Fulfillment." The Microsoft Easy Fulfillment program was designed for Microsoft customers that need to acquire multiple software components. Rather than acquiring software in the full packaged product available at local resellers, corporate customers often prefer to purchase volume-licensing agreements. Microsoft offers supplemental CD-ROMs and user manuals only to customers who have already purchased an Open or Select license. The MEF program provides only the CD-ROM component in a jewel case, without an individual end-user license agreement, a user's manual, a registration card, a warranty or other features that accompany genuine Microsoft retail products. The Microsoft Easy Fulfillment program recently has been renamed Microsoft Worldwide Fulfillment. "The MEF program was created as an easier way for our customers to secure additional software components for the products that had already been licensed," said Sam Jadallah, vice president, organization customer unit, Microsoft. The MEF product has a sticker on the jewel case identifying the product as "Microsoft Easy Fulfillment."

EULA - End User License Agreement. Possession of this piece of paper is not the same thing as a software license. \

Evaluation - This term can mean almost anything. Software labeled this way can be crippled or full featured. License transfer rules vary. See also "Not for Resale."

For Distribution with a New PC only - See Original Equipment Manufacturer

License card. Possession of a license card does not necessarily mean the possessor has a license to use the software the card is for.

Microsoft Company Store - Microsoft Company Store Purchase. Microsoft employees may buy these at the Microsoft "company store" (wherever that is) but the packages have a non-removable circular label "Microsoft Company Store Purchase, not to be sold. Purchase by #######", where "#######" is the probably the employee number.

NFR - See Not for Resale

Not for Resale - The manufacturer of the product asked the original purchaser not to resell the package. These are often sold to dealers so that the dealer may become familiar with the product. Licensing and support varies with the manufacturer. "Not for Resale," "NFR," "Promotional Sample Not for Resale" and "Reseller Demo" versions: These are complete, promotional copies of the software provided to computer resellers from the software manufacturer. These are generally not eligible for upgrades when they become available, and may not include tech support, if offered by the manufacturer. This evaluation software is identical in function and packaging to the retail software of the same version. They are not licensed for resale, and so no license for use transfers.

OEM - See Original Equipment Manufacturer

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) - Products sold to dealers for bundling with hardware. The manufacturer usually distinguishes between these and retail packages. They often have fewer and less substantial manuals, may not include media (the end user is sometimes expected to make their own from the image on the hard disk sold to them), and usually include no support from the manufacturer. They may be marked without another company's name (more recently referred to as "DSP" by Microsoft, which stands for "Delivery Service Partner"). They may also be marked with the name of a specific computer maker, such as Dell® or IBM®.

Promotional - Software distributed as part of a promotion. Copies given to dealers are often given with the understanding that they will not be sold. They are sometimes not eligible for upgrades.

Registration card - Usually a postcard that a software customer completes and mails to the manufacturer. The presence of this card in a product does not necessarily mean that the product is unregistered.

"Select" The Microsoft Select program allows licensed customers to have complete collections of MS applications for distribution and installation within their organization as they wish. For each copy installed form the CDs, a license fee is paid to Microsoft. Purchasers of these CDs do not have valid use licenses unless Microsoft is paid a negotiated fee.

Special Upgrade - Usually means about the same as a competitive upgrade.

Version Upgrade - Upgrade from previous version of the same product. Microsoft calls some version upgrades "Step-up".

World Wide Fulfillment - See Easy Fulfillment.

See for various license type definitions.


Dell is a trademark of Dell Computer Corporation.
IBM is a trademark of IBM Corporation.
Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.