What is it: a software metering and licence management system
Applications: monitors and controls software use in company networks; prints reports on application usage; advises when software licences are being exceeded; and indicates where money spent on licences can be saved
It is estimated that the illegal use and copying of licensed products cost software manufacturers in the UK #400m in lost revenue last year.
Business users are obviously anxious to avoid the seizure of software and prosecution as a result of deliberate misuse. But there is also a distinct danger of inadvertent or undetected abuse of software licences.
Express Meter keeps track of all software products installed on both networked file servers and user workstations. It advises when software licences are exceeded or violated. But more importantly, it also monitors software usage levels, and provides a breakdown which shows where savings can be made by buying fewer user licences in the future.
To install Express Meter, you need to insert a unique serial number and password, both of which are supplied by the manufacturer.
In tests, the copy installed detected the user names and groups on all the available file servers connected to the network. It also identified the software products that were being used, highlighting them in red in the Express Meter editing screen. However, the applications need to be configured using the New Application Wizard before Express Meter shows detailed information on usage.
In some cases, Express Meter provides default prices, but administrators can change existing figures or insert their own cost details. To calculate savings, these prices are compared against the number of user licences per application.
Clicking on the Usage option in the menu bar shows how many licences are being violated. Or, if the number of licences exceeds the sum of the people using the software, Express Meter calculates how much money can be saved by reducing the number of licences to the minimum.
Express Meter produces its data in graphs or tables. A range of colourful bar charts display the number of times an application is used by date, user, unlicensed and failed execution. The Application and Suite Peak Usage chart shows the times of day when individual software products are most in use.
Verdict: Express Meter v3.5 provides invaluable information about the software being used on a network. It's easy to install and provides efficient monitoring, brief usage reports and basic ways to control software licence costs.
Delivering a FAST service
FAST, the Federation Against Software Theft, was set up in 1984 by the British Computing Society's Copyright Committee. It sought greater protection for software vendors by lobbying parliament for changes to the 1956 Copyright Act. It has been responsible for amendments to the law which has led to the prosecution of software thieves.
Now, FAST represents the interests of more than 500 major UK companies. The organisation provides advice, training and certification on software licensing issues.
Contact: FAST Software Crimeline on 0800 510510.
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