Microsoft Announces Immediate Availability of Unilateral Software License for Eligible Organizations

By Nancy Anderson,
Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Sales Group

Microsoft is pleased to announce the immediate availability of a unilateral software license for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and small, independent media operating in the following 12 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

This unilateral software license, which can be found here (, runs automatically from Microsoft to NGOs and small, independent media organizations and covers the software already installed on their personal computers (PCs), thus ensuring that they have legal copies of our products.

As we have stated earlier, this unilateral software license for NGOs and small, independent media builds upon our existing NGO software donation program, which is a global initiative that has been in place for a number of years in many countries around the world. We are making this software license available in countries where our current program is in place but the benefits are not as widely known or understood as we would like. We are also making it available in countries where we had already planned to extend the existing program and have been working through the last steps in doing so.

In preparing this software license we consulted with a number of organizations in multiple markets, including Russian civil society groups, to identify and address any open issues and help ensure smooth and efficient implementation of the licensing program. We greatly appreciate the important input these organizations have provided and believe the licensing program will be more effective as a result.

The unilateral software license is effective today and will last until January 1, 2012, thus giving NGOs and independent media approximately one year to move to our standard NGO software donation program or other programs, through which they will be able to easily keep their software up-to-date and secure.

Eligible NGOs must operate on a not-for-profit basis and have a mission to benefit the local community. Eligible organizations may also include small, independent media, or others that hold a local public communication license, are members of a local media association, or are recognized by an international media organization.

With the existence of this license, Microsoft is clearly articulating its position that we do not wish to engage in anti-piracy actions against NGOs and small, independent media in these 12 countries that are using Microsoft software for their business needs. We are taking specific steps to discourage any such actions in these jurisdictions.

First of all, we are actively communicating the facts of the license to government officials and the legal community in each of these 12 countries. Secondly, we are making sure, through proactive education and training initiatives in each country, that NGOs and small, independent media are aware of the license and how to access it. Finally, we have established a Legal Assistance Program that will assist covered organizations if they are contacted by government officials regarding their software. As part of this program, we will provide direct evidence, whenever it is needed, that NGOs and small, independent media in these 12 countries are covered by this software license.

We are pleased to provide legal assurance to NGOs and small, independent media through this software license, and we welcome continued feedback on this program.

In closing, I’d like to note that in our last fiscal year alone, Microsoft donated more than $500 million in software to non-profit organizations. If you would like to learn more about our NGO software donation and licensing offerings, please go to You can also find an FAQ here.