I recently started a new job as a contractor. It had been my understanding the computer and software I would be using would be supplied to me, but I guess I should have made that clear in the contract. I have my own laptop but it has a non-legitimate version of Windows and Office. I am fine using it for offline work, but now that the client wants me to install Skype for Business, Office add-ons and connect to their cloud, I'm concerned it may somehow record a non-legitimately licensed version was connecting. To clarify, I installed these while in school/practicing and had no intention of using unlicensed equipment on the job.

At this point what's the best course of action? Now that I'm working I can spend the money but I also am wondering about alternatives such as have the company pay for my license or give me a volume one to use. Things is they asked if I had office and I had said yes because I didn't expect to have to use it online so much. So how do I got back now? Initially they had wanted to hire me as an employee but changed their mind to contractor.

Response to answers: I'm surprised to hear about cheaper alternatives. Are you sure it's legal to buy Windows for $10 off ebay? I thought it was all the same price (several hundreds of dollars). Please provide the links if I'm mistaking. To be clear, I must use some of the programs for work, so I can't just tell my boss I'm going to use Linux and Open Office etc.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


From OP comment:

The problem is the employer asked if I had Office on my computer and I said yes. How do I go back now and ask for a license?

Please don't lie. Compare that to the driver lying about owning a car. You have to make a choice, either to get your stuff in order, or say something like:

I was misguided, my MS Office License doesn't allow me making money with it. Could you pay for professional license?

That is not unheard of, for example, maybe your Office was supplied by your university for learning only.

You should not pirate software when doing business, even from the M$ (as kids used to call it). That is not professional.

I recently started a new job as a contractor

When you offer your services as a contractor, in contrast with regular employment, there is an expectation that you'll have the necessary tools, per American Bar Association:

One of the hallmarks of independent contractors is that they are required to supply their own tools, equipment, and supplies

That being said, I don't know if there are rules outside your contract, verbal or written. It is OK to request professional license since now you are conducting professional service.

  • Your employer can respond with cash, share their license (I don't know legality of that) or let you pay yourself.
  • Maybe the answer is "use free OSS alternatives" that have license compatible with your business.

In short, get yourself a professional set of tools.

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    Note that there is a flip side of supplying your own tools (not that I'm saying that this is the OPs situation). The people I contract to do not allow non-corporate devices to connect to their network. So I get a full corporate load laptop complete with all the software site licenses that they own.
    – Peter M
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 23:39
  • @PeterM Good example, that's why i am saying "it varies" Commented May 15, 2020 at 23:40
  • BYOD is extremely common in the author’s profession. It’s also common to include expenses as a contractor
    – Donald
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 0:16

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