UPDATED – A Better Way To Manage Product Keys For Small/Medium Businesses

NOTE!! Read to the Bottom for an update on this!!!


If you have ever managed licenses for your small/medium business then the above picture might look familiar to you. Software providers love to give you something called a product key that is required to install and run your newly purchased software. In a large organization normally you would use Volume Licensing and not have to deal with retail packaging and product key cards. Most home users would only have 2-3 of these cards to have to contend with for each machine. For a small/medium business you get a little of both worlds, sometime you buy in volume but sometime because of budget constraints you can only get a few copies per month. So us lucky small/medium business people get to deal with stuff like the above picture, a dogs breakfast of product keys.

For most IT teams this would normally not be an issue, you would just copy the product key into an Excel Spreadsheet and keep track of who is using that product key. Simple right? Well it is but what happens if you get audited? Microsoft will email you a request for all these licenses, but sometimes will require prof that you own those product keys. Just because you have the key does not prove that you purchased it, the only prof that works is the product card and maybe a receipt. So you have to keep these product cards so you can prove that you own these products!

The other problem is that Microsoft loves to give you these cards and then put absolutely¬†no product identifying text on them. So you have a product card but then nothing to relate it to what product it is for. I would say 80% of the time it is there but 20% of the time it’s not.


So I decide to fix the problem for everyone, introducing the Universal Product Key Card (UPK Card):


The UPK card will clearly state:

  • The vendor (in this case Microsoft)
  • The product key
  • The software that this product key is for
  • Licensing type, ie Retail, Upgrade, OEM
  • The processor¬†architect
  • A bit.ly or short link to¬†download¬†the software

The card would be a standard business card size. This way you can manage all your UPK cards in a business card zipper case. On the back could be more licensing information, for example some products can be installed on a laptop and a desktop like the Home & Business version of Office 2010. You could also place a phone number for support etc.

This solution would be so amazing if we could get someone like Microsoft to start doing this and then maybe everyone other software provider will follow them and we can manage all our licenses with a nice business card wallet for the office.

I hope someone that matters at Microsoft reads this and understands our pain and realizes that a business card size product key card would make so much more sense!


Update 2014.03.04 – I ordered a copy of Office Home & Business 2013 media less and I found the below Product Card in the box…

ProductKeyCardFromMS-Back ProductKeyCardFromMS

I don’t know if someone at Microsoft read my post (I am assuming not) but I am happy. Thank you Microsoft if you did listen, this is exactly what we needed!!


© Caspan 2013