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Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) Quick Overview

What is Microsoft AIS?

Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) 2.0 :

  • A hosted service provided by Microsoft
  • Users install an agent on machines which reports back over the internet
  • Microsoft’s servers store the inventory data and provide software recognition
  • Users can compare inventory versus entitlement for Microsoft Software

How is it different from Microsoft SCCM?

Software recognition and reconciliation within SCCM are completed onsite within the customer’s database whilst AIS is a Microsoft hosted service. The AIS catalogue can be downloaded into SCCM as part of the Asset Intelligence.

Which applications and vendors are included in the service – i.e. is it just Microsoft?

No, the client agent for the Asset Inventory Service (AIS) will catalogue applications from Microsoft and other software vendors and report them to the AIS hosted service where you can view the inventory information.  AIS will only help you analyze your Microsoft Volume License agreements though.

Which Operating systems does it cover?

Windows XP Professional SP2 or SP3, Windows Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, or Business, Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, or Professional.

How is it priced? Do customers have to have Software Assurance to use the service?

Yes, AIS is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).  MDOP is a set of six products that is available for purchase for $10 per device per year, to customers who have Software Assurance on Windows Client.

Existing users have stated that reporting is currently limited and labour intensive – how does the new version address this?

AIS 2.0 includes some changes to make reporting easier including:

  • Aggregating major and minor versions of products to make the reports cleaner and easier to view
  • Information to tell you if the computers are virtual machines and if the application is virtualized with Microsoft Application Virtualization
  • License purchase report shows what licenses you have purchased across all the Microsoft agreements that you have entered into AIS
  • License installation report lets you compare the software that has been discovered on computers that you manage with your currently license agreement coverage for those product families.

So Microsoft stores data about my installs and licenses? How does Microsoft deal with client concerns over access to client install counts?

The data collected from the AIS client agent is stored in a Microsoft data center.  Microsoft says it is completely committed to the privacy of customer data. Their position on privacy is outlined via the privacy statement on the System Center site and their privacy position has been confirmed via a third party auditor.

In a nutshell:


  • Cloud based service – No server infrastructure required (although agents still need to be deployed)


  • License reconciliation limited to Microsoft Software only
  • Microsoft only agent platforms
  • Requires Software Assurance


I struggle to see the relevance of AIS unless a) You have already bought into Software Assurance and might as well make use of it and b) The unlikely event that you only own Microsoft software. Otherwise there are plenty of other alternatives on the market that provide a broader coverage of software and more mature set of features – whether on premise or cloud based.

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Santy says:

    I should have read your conclusion first 🙂

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