Non-Primary Users. At any time, one user may access and use the software from the licensed device.
If someone else sits at your computer -- and only your computer -- then he or she, too, can access your company's hosted copies of the Office Web Apps. It's pretty much the same as if you had a copy of the desktop Office suite installed and someone else fired up your copy of Word -- only in this case, they'd be launching it from your Web browser.
Fun and games with licensing
So let's think this through. Imagine some possible scenarios, given these license terms.
You can access your company's versions of the Office Web Apps from your work computer as much as you like. If your cousin Merle stops by to visit you at the office, he can do the same. You, however, can get up from your desk, go to any other computer, and pull up the Web Apps from there. Merle can't -- not unless that computer has also been designated someone's "licensed device." He's stuck using your computer at your desk.
If you bring your laptop home, you can continue to use your company's Web Apps (provided they're accessible over the public Internet). So can Merle, if he uses your computer. But Merle can't access them from his own laptop without violating the license. Solution? You swap computers. Now you can both use the Web Apps.
Now suppose your company hires Merle as a contractor and gives him access to your SharePoint 2010 Server, so he can share files with the rest of the team. But your company doesn't give him a license to Office 2010: That's not a benefit it extends to contractors. Because your company's SharePoint Server has a copy of the Office 2010 Web Apps installed and enabled, when Merle is browsing files on the server, he will be able to click on documents saved in Office file formats and view them using the Office Web Apps. But he must not, because doing so would violate the license. He can't go to the store and buy his own copy of Office 2010, either; access to the Web Apps only extends to volume-licensed versions of the suite.
I want my lawyer
I'm sure you're thinking what I thought: How on Earth does Microsoft expect to enforce this stuff? The answer is that it probably isn't too worried about casual slip-ups. Remember, anyone will be able to access the ad-supported versions of the Web Apps for free, so gaining access to a company's locally hosted versions won't be much of a coup.
But pity the poor IT managers who have to make sense of this mess. The Office 2010 Web Apps license is a strange bird. Sometimes it acts like a per-head license and sometimes it acts like a per-computer license. Sometimes it acts like a desktop software license and sometimes it acts like a client-server license. And unlike traditional software, which must be installed and registered with a serial number before it will run, any individual employee could violate the license of the Office 2010 Web Apps at any time; it's largely out of IT's hands.
If you're a software developer who's venturing into cloud computing, it's worth considering these issues when you choose a license for your software. Maybe a less complicated license would benefit you and your customers in the long run, even if it means giving up some control. If you're a customer who has to confront these issues, you have my sympathy -- but I suppose it's nothing new to you.
This article, "The twists and turns of Office 2010 Web Apps' software license," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developmens in enterprise applications and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.