What the difference between software assurance and licensing rights?

In the wonderful and confusing world of software licensing there seems to be some confusion between software assurance (SA) rights and software licensing rights, which comes to light when SA benefits expire and users aren’t sure what they are entitled to do at that time. The  difference:  the software license right is valid for as long as you own the license with or without SA; an SA benefit is only active for as long as you have coverage on your license.

A Microsoft Small Business blog came up with a great list of examples so when the question comes up about what happens when SA benefits expire, use this as a quick reference:

 License rights:

• Downgrade Rights
• Transfer Rights
• Re-imaging (network storage and use) rights

Software Assurance benefits:

• New Version Rights
• Home Use Program
• Windows Vista Enterprise
• Training Vouchers
• Microsoft E-Learning
• Employee Purchase Program
• 24×7 Problem Resolution Support
• “Cold” Backups for Disaster Recovery
• TechNet Subscription
• Desktop Deployment Planning Services
• SharePoint Deployment Planning Services

You can, of course, use this also as a blueprint for understanding Oracle licensing and assurance as well as many other software vendors.

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