12 Jun 2024



Used software

3 examples of why companies should sell licences they no longer need

The faster and more profound the digitalisation of the economy progresses, the more extensive and diverse the software assets of companies become. Even medium-sized companies with a few hundred employees quickly have to manage a portfolio of several thousand licences from a wide variety of providers. As a result, software is increasingly becoming a decisive competitive factor and also represents an extremely relevant asset. This makes it all the more important to manage licences as actively and efficiently as possible in order to prevent rising costs from getting out of hand. More and more IT managers are discovering the possibility of selling used volume licences in full or in part on the used software market. On the one hand, to avoid having to simply write off or depreciate the assets, and on the other, to make a documentable sustainability contribution to a resource-conserving circular economy.

In this blog post, we explain what companies should consider in order to sell used software licences on the secondary market in a legally compliant manner, use three customer examples to show how different the reasons for the sale can be and why it was worthwhile in every case.

Optimise licence management - what you should bear in mind when selling licences

IT managers and software asset managers still shy away from selling software assets due to a lack of knowledge of the legal situation. This is all the more surprising as it has been possible to sell used and no longer required volume licences, for example widely used standard software from Microsoft or Adobe, in full or in part for over a decade and with legal certainty. The following conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. The licences that are no longer required were first placed on the market in the EU or in a signatory state to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. Since 2012, the so-called principle of exhaustion has also applied to used software licences for download software, which has been secured by supreme court rulings.

  2. The manufacturer's software licence is unlimited in time.

  3. Only purchased software licences can be resold.

  4. Software licences from volume contracts can also be sold in part, as individual licences of a volume contract represent an independent copy of the computer program. The only exception to this is in the area of client-server installations.

  5. The used software must also be de facto transferred with the sale. For this purpose, the software must be uninstalled from the respective computers before the sale and the process must be documented transparently.

Would you also like to benefit from optimised licence management through the sale of used software licences? The PREO licence experts will be happy to advise you personally and calculate the best purchase price for your licence volume.

Reason for sale 1: Software compliance

A German medium-sized company decided to implement a hybrid licence structure and migrated some of its existing software assets to the Microsoft cloud. The company sold the on-prem licences it no longer needed for various Microsoft products, such as MS Office, Exchange and Sharepoint servers or Microsoft Visio, to PREO, generating a cash flow of 230,000 euros.

PREO was particularly convincing as an experienced provider with a special focus on one hundred percent transparent, legally compliant and audit-proof licence transfer with the standard PREO Safe3 system and blockchain.

Reason for sale 2: Financial leeway for new IT investments

In ageing societies, the healthcare sector is almost inevitably under high cost pressure. Selling licences that are no longer required can generate additional income for hospital companies, healthcare providers or insurance companies, creating new financial leeway in the IT budget.

Following a complete cloud migration of 60,000 licenced workstations, a Norwegian company was able to sell the on-premise software assets it no longer needed to PREO for a total of around EUR 7 million. The licence package included Microsoft Office ProPlus 2021 LTSC, Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite User 2022, Microsoft Core CAL 2022 User CAL and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021. The sum generated by the sale provided a very good basis for investment in the future IT infrastructure.

Reason for sale 3: Reduction of the corporate CO2 footprint

Sustainable business practices are becoming an important competitive factor for more and more companies. The extended disclosure requirements as part of ESG reporting are obliging more and more companies in the EU to document their activities on the road to climate neutrality and publish them in a sustainability report.

A Danish company from the transport sector took this as an opportunity to optimise its licence management. The used Microsoft licences for Windows Remote Desktop Services 2019 User CAL and Windows Server 2019 Standard 2 Core, which had been lying idle for several years following a cloud migration, were sold to PREO. The forgotten licences generated a cash flow of around 150,000 euros and can be documented and published as an active contribution to a resource-conserving circular economy in accordance with the European Sustainability Reporting Standards Set 1.

PREO tip: Check licence structure and sell licences that are no longer required

The regular inventory check is an important cornerstone of successful licence management. PREO's licensing experts will be happy to assist you with the legally compliant sale of licences that are no longer required, especially from Microsoft, and explain how you can sustainably reduce your ongoing licence costs by integrating used software into your existing software architecture. Whatever your needs, we will be happy to provide you with a free and non-binding offer with our best prices for the purchase or sale of used software licences.

With PREO, you are relying on an experienced and reputable B2B provider

As one of the pioneers in the European trade in used software, PREO offers companies, organisations and public administrations the audit- and compliance-proof purchase or sale of used volume licences for widely used standard software from Microsoft or Adobe. More than 1,000 PREO customers have already benefited from the numerous advantages of the used software market:

  • 100 percent legally compliant and audit-proof licence acquisition with maximum transparency in all processing steps, including complete documentation in the PREO licence portal ‘Easy Compliance’.
  • Review of the current licence portfolio and purchase of software licences that are no longer required, including legally compliant transfer  

  • Many years of expertise in the integration of used software licences into classic network structures or hybrid licence models.

  • Greater sustainability in the IT sector by promoting an active circular economy and reducing the company's CO2 footprint.

  • Detailed market knowledge and extensive experience through the audit-proof transfer of over three and a half million used software licences.

  • Existing software licence management capacities for large IT infrastructure projects with thousands of workstations and cross-border locations.

  • Convincing reference projects for numerous medium-sized and large companies from a wide range of industries.