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Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 offers the experiences that users love while delivering enterprise-grade capabilities that IT departments need. Whether you want to upgrade your PCs to Windows 8.1, gain access to exclusive offerings such as Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, or use Windows with greater flexibility, there is a Microsoft Volume Licensing solution that is right for your organization.

Unique Software Assurance Benefits

Unique Software Assurance Benefits

Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system helps enable flexible workstyles by providing access to Windows instances in a variety of ways across devices. With access to the unique offerings and use rights listed below, Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system provides the maximum value for your investment.


When purchasing new PCs with a qualifying operating system preinstalled, you can acquire Software Assurance through Volume Licensing within 90 days of the purchase date of the new PCs.


Unique Benefits of Software Assurance for Windows (PDF, 386 KB)


Benefit

Description

Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition is available through Software Assurance for the Windows Desktop Operating System (Software Assurance for Windows) and includes all the capabilities of Windows 8.1 Pro, plus premium features designed to meet the mobility, productivity, security and manageability, and virtualization needs of today’s large organizations.
Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights
Windows VDA Rights enable users to access virtual instances of Windows in a variety of user scenarios.
Windows To Go
Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate desktop running Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition on a bootable USB stick. With Windows To Go use right, employees can use Windows To Go on any device licensed with Software Assurance for Windows.
Roaming Use Rights
Roaming Use Rights allow the primary user of any licensed device to access a virtual instance of Windows running in the datacenter (VDI) or Windows To Go from noncorporate devices, such as personally owned or hotel business center PCs, while away from the office.
Windows RT Companion VDA Rights
Windows RT Companion VDA Rights allow the primary user of a licensed device rights to access a corporate desktop through a VDI from a corporate-owned companion Windows RT 8.1 or Windows RT device with no additional Windows license required.
Windows 8.1 Enterprise Sideloading
Receive the necessary use rights to enable deployment of touch-centric Windows 8.1 apps directly to devices within an organization, instead of having to install them through the public Windows Store.
Windows Thin PC
Windows Thin PC is a smaller footprint version of Windows 7 that enables organizations to repurpose existing PCs as thin clients, thereby reducing the need for new thin client hardware. This benefit applies only to devices licensed with Software Assurance for Windows.
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)
MDOP is an optional subscription add-on that enables businesses to virtualize the operating system applications and the user experience, manage Windows features, and restore user productivity after a system issue.
Windows Companion Subscription License (CSL)
The Windows CSL is an optional subscription add-on that grants the primary user of a licensed device the rights to access a corporate desktop through either a VDI or Windows To Go on up to four devices that are capable of leveraging these technologies. Devices eligible for licensed use include any type of personally owned device as well as corporate-owned non-x86 devices.

How to Buy

How to Buy

Windows 8.1 Pro
Volume Licensing is the most cost-effective way for commercial customers to upgrade existing PCs to Windows 8.1. If PCs are not already covered by Software Assurance, you can purchase upgrade licenses through a Volume Licensing program to gain access to Windows 8.1 Pro. Upgrades are available through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs for small to midsize organizations, such as Open License, Open Value, Open Value Subscription, and Select Plus.


Add Microsoft Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system to your Volume Licensing agreement and move up to Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Software Assurance is a cost-effective program that provides new product versions and exclusive technologies, including Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Software Assurance also helps you use IT to maximize your productivity with deployment planning, training, and support benefits.


Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Windows 8.1 Enterprise is available exclusively as a benefit of Microsoft Software Assurance through Volume Licensing programs such as Select Plus, Enterprise Agreement, and Enterprise Subscription Agreement.


Note: If your organization acquired Windows 8 Pro through a volume license agreement, your organization is licensed for Windows 8.1 Pro even if your Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system expired prior to the release of Windows 8.1 Pro. This does not apply to Windows 8 Enterprise; you must have active Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system to have rights to Windows 8.1 Enterprise.


Your IT professionals can download Windows 8.1 Enterprise from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) and deploy it on your organization’s computers.


Next step

Qualifying Operating Systems

Qualifying Operating Systems

Windows Volume Licensing
Properly licensed Microsoft operating systems (such as Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP) have either a full operating system license or the combination of an upgrade operating system license and a pre-existing, full operating system license. If you do not have a pre-existing full license for a genuine operating system on your PC, see Get Genuine Legalization Solutions.


Only certain editions of the Windows operating system qualify for upgrades under Volume Licensing agreements. The table below lists the qualifying editions of Windows that are eligible for the Volume Licensing upgrade under each Volume Licensing program.


If your operating system license qualifies, you can purchase the Windows 8.1 Pro Upgrade license under your Volume Licensing agreement. Note that Windows licenses that are available through Volume Licensing are upgrade-only licenses and can only be acquired on top of a base operating system license; these licenses are not a replacement for a pre-existing full operating system license.


The following conditions must be met for a licensed PC to be eligible for a Volume Licensing upgrade license:

  • A licensed, qualifying Windows operating system must already be installed on the device that will be assigned the Volume Licensing upgrade license. The following table lists base operating system licenses—including preinstalled original equipment manufacturer (OEM) versions—that are eligible for upgrade.

  • You must remove the existing qualifying operating system from the device to deploy the Volume Licensing upgrade license, unless the PC is covered by Microsoft Software Assurance.

  • If you want to install or run more than one licensed operating system at one time (including the qualifying operating system), you can either:

    • Acquire Software Assurance for your Volume Licensing upgrade license.

    • Purchase full Windows licenses separately.

Windows 8.1 Qualifying Operating Systems

Qualifying Operating Systems

New Enterprise Agreement (EA)/Open Value Company-wide
(OV-CW)

Existing EA/OV-CW

Select/Select Plus (All Except Academic)

Open (All Except Academic, Charity, and
OV-CW)

Academic and Charity

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (32-bit or 64-bit)

Enterprise (N, K, KN)*

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Pro (N, K, KN, diskless)*

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Single Language*

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)

Windows 7 Enterprise (N, K, KN)*

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Windows 7 Professional (N, K, KN, diskless)*

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Windows 7 Ultimate

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Windows 7 Home Premium

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows 7 Home Basic*

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows 7 Starter Edition

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)

Windows Vista Enterprise (N, K, KN)

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows Vista Business (N, K, KN, Blade)

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows Vista Ultimate

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows Vista Home Premium

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows Vista Home Basic

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows Starter Edition

 

 

 

 

yes

Windows XP (32-bit or 64-bit)

Windows XP Professional (N, K, KN, Blade)

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows XP Tablet Edition (N, K, KN, Blade)

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows XP
Pro N

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows XP Pro Blade PC

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows XP Home/Windows XP Starter

 

 

 

 

yes

Other Operating Systems

Windows 2000 Professional

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows NT Workstation 4.0

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Windows 98 (including 2nd Edition)

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

Apple Macintosh

yes

 

yes

yes

yes

*Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 Single Language, Windows 7 Home Basic, N, K, and KN are specialized editions that are available for certain markets. Diskless availability is limited to Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional.


Download the Windows 8.1 Qualifying Operating Systems Chart shown above (PDF, 249 KB)

Related Resources

Quick Links

Product licensing FAQs
Microsoft Volume Licensing Activation Centers
Microsoft Payment Solutions
Product Rental Rights
Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Microsoft Licensing for Consumerization of IT