In the past, when an organization would rent out computers to an institution, business, or whomever, the company would purchase the computers with standard Windows and Office licenses, and then ship those computers to their renters. According to Microsoft, these companies are in violation of their software license agreements.
To alter the license agreement and add support for organizations that lease out computers to third-parties, Microsoft has instituted Rental Rights Licensing. According to Microsoft, "Rental Rights are a simple way for organizations to get a waiver of these licensing restrictions through a one-time license transaction valid for the term of the underlying software license or life of the PC." In other words, Rental Rights are a way for Microsoft to charge an additional free, on top of the already paid Windows or Office license, which is already installed on a computer.
Rental Rights are not a form of additional software, nor are they actual software licenses. When you purchase these rights, in essence, all you are getting is a "pass," which will appease Microsoft and have them look the other way when you lease out a Windows based computer (or copy of Office). Up until now, companies have been doing this without any sort of prior arrangement, free of charge. Instead of prosecuting these people, Microsoft is giving them a way to legalize what they're doing. The rental fees will probably end up hurting the end-user, as companies will begin charging more for the computers that they lease out, in order to cover this extra cost. Many colleges lease computers from other organizations in order to keep their schools up to date with the latest systems on the market. This new rental fee is sure to come at an extra cost to them, as well as other renters.
This Rental Rights License was put into effect on January 1st, 2010. CNet notes that in order for Microsoft to get companies to participate, and to ease the burden of paying for something that was once free, they are offering 30% off the license fees to those who sign up by June 30th. Keep in mind, the rental fee is on top of the cost of the software itself. The discounted prices are:
- Office Professional - $58
- Office Standard - $45
- Windows - $23