16 May 2023



Used Software

How companies can make their software asset management more economicaland ecologically sustainable

Does it always have to be new software? What are the options available when buying or selling software? These are just two of many questions that more and more IT managers are asking themselves. However, green IT has many facets. Sharing and re-using products is only one of them, but from our point of view it is worthwhile.

As a pioneer in the European trade of second-hand software, it has been a decisive motivation of our actions from the very beginning to professionally support companies, organisations or public institutions in the efficient and resource-saving use of software through the legally secure establishment of a secondary software market. What has been a matter of course in almost all consumer markets for decades was only fully legalised for software through the groundbreaking rulings of the European Court of Justice and the Federal Court of Justice in 2012/2013 - the trade and thus the reusability of used software licences.

In this blog post, PREO shows you that Green IT can not only become more visible, but also a successful competitive factor for your company, through resource-saving software asset management.

Circular economy in the software market - secondary recycling without loss of quality

Digitisation is advancing consistently and many companies are investing large sums of money to be up to date. Even with standard software such as Microsoft Windows or MS Office, a new licence version is released every two to three years on average. This can then only be bought as used software. New versions, however, usually exceed many of the requirements of everyday work, so that previous versions that have been tried and tested in practice will in most cases continue to meet workplace requirements for several years, with full manufacturer support. However, since software, unlike most consumer products, does not age and does not show signs of wear and tear, it is particularly suitable for reuse. Provided that all legal requirements for the transfer of licences are met, there is nothing to be said against a second or third recycling and thus the entry into a sustainable and resource-saving circular economy.

The hardware factor - longer in use through used software

Green IT does not only consist of a resource-saving use of software. The effects are even greater in the hardware sector. Due to their component diversity and special raw materials such as rare earths, desktop and mini PCs, notebooks and servers cause large amounts of climate-damaging CO2 emissions during global production. This is confirmed by the German Öko-Institut e.V. on the basis of a study conducted in 2016:

3.1.1. Manufacturing effort

A detailed life cycle assessment of the manufacturing and use of workplace computers was prepared by Prakash et al. 2016b. The study calculates GHG emissions for manufacturing for various combinations of devices for computer workstations as follows:

Table 3-1: Manufacturing expenditure desktop PC, laptop, mini PC.

Device type          Manufacturing effort
GHG potential of manufacturing a computer monitor 88.2 kg CO2e
GHG potential of manufacturing a desktop PC (with HDD) 346.9 kg CO2e
GHG potential of a notebook (with HDD) 251.7 kg CO2e
GHG potential of a notebook (with SSD) 311,1 kg CO2e
GHG potential of a mini PC (with HDD) 190.5 kg CO2e
GHG potential of a mini PC (with SSD) 249 9 kg CO2e

In the CO calculator, the following rounded assumptions are made for the manufacturing costs:

Manufacturing monitor: 88 kg CO2e, desktop computer (with HDD) 347 kg CO2e, manufacturing laptop-

computer (with SSD): 311 kg CO2e. The desktop computer is always operated together with at least one monitor.

It is all the more problematic that the average internal utilisation cycle of the listed hardware is extremely short at 4.9 years. Since hardware and software are always coordinated with each other for system-related reasons, a significantly more powerful software upgrade often also causes a physical upgrade on the hardware side. An illustrative example of this is the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, which, compared to its predecessor Windows 95, requires about 40 times more processor power, 250 times more RAM and 320 times more hard disk capacity. In a company with jobs in the lower three-digit range, this already has a significant impact.

It is important to break this cycle in a sustainable way and to significantly extend the usage cycles for both software and hardware. Companies not only save on expensive acquisition costs, but also conserve global resources and reduce their carbon footprint.

From 2024 - Mandatory disclosure on sustainability for many companies

With its Green Deal, the EU has set itself the goal of becoming climate neutral across all sectors by 2050 at the latest. Some member states are even more ambitious, and the German government wants to achieve this goal five years earlier. The prerequisite for this is that a collective rethink begins at all levels of social and economic activity.

In order to accelerate this process of change and to achieve the interim goal of "Fit for 55", the existing disclosure requirements on sustainability for listed companies will be successively extended to other companies from 2024. Medium-sized companies with 500 or more employees and annual sales of more than 40 million euros or total assets of more than 20 million euros will then be obliged to disclose annually how sustainably they operate in the areas of ecology, economy and social responsibility.

From 2025, the disclosure obligations will then be extended to further groups of companies. It is therefore high time to deal with sustainable management at all levels. In the field of Green IT, we offer your company attractive and immediately implementable options on how you can make an effective contribution to more sustainability with used software.

Green IT and used software - the advantages at a glance

By integrating used software into your existing software landscape, you not only benefit from high price advantages compared to the respective new version, but also score points in terms of green IT. The advantages for companies or public administrations when buying or selling used volume licences from or to PREO are clear:

  1. You actively promote the circular economy in your software asset management.

  2. You extend the usage cycles of your hardware and conserve global resources.

  3. You contribute to the reduction of your company's carbon footprint.

  4. You are already making an effective contribution to corporate digital responsibility.

  5. You prove that green IT is not just an image factor, but can be an important building block on the path to climate neutrality.       

Are you interested in our software solutions and do you also want to develop or reposition yourself in the field of green IT? The PREO licensing experts will be happy to advise you personally and show you how you can sustainably reduce the burden on your company's IT budget with used software and actively contribute to climate protection.

Our motivation: More efficiency and sustainability for thousands of companies 

Since the legalisation of the resale of used standard software by the highest court in 2012 and 2013, we have helped more than 5,000 companies, organisations and public institutions to achieve high savings and more sustainability in their software asset management with the legally secure transfer of well over one million licences. It is not without reason that we are now one of the market leaders in the European trade with used software. We will continue to be committed to this claim in the future.

Used software from PREO - sustainable, efficient and audit-proof

Are you planning to use second-hand software, for example from Microsoft or Adobe, not only to save resources but also to break new ground in terms of green IT? Then take advantage of the free and non-binding initial consultation with the PREO licensing experts, and also benefit from

  • high savings in ongoing licence costs (compared to the respective new version) of up to 70 percent and in individual cases even more.

  • Personal advice on all questions concerning the integration of used software into your software architecture and your licence management. 

  • 100 percent legally and audit-proof licence acquisition with maximum transparency in all processing steps, including complete documentation in the PREO licence portal "Easy Compliance".

  • Existing capacities for software licence management in large IT infrastructure projects with thousands of workstations and transnational locations.

That's not convincing enough for you? Then take a look at our reference projects, which we have already successfully realised for numerous well-known companies.