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Frequently Asked Questions About Product Licensing

As a Volume Licensing customer, we want to help you get answers to your top product licensing questions. We have collected the top product licensing questions which our Microsoft support teams receive.

The following questions are related to product licensing under Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements unless otherwise noted. Licensing information for retail (FPP) or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) products can be found in the Software License Agreement terms for those products. If you need more information or your question is not covered here, please contact your Microsoft reseller or your regional Microsoft customer support center.

Downgrade Rights

My organization has a Volume Licensing agreement. Where can I confirm my specific downgrade rights and eligible versions to downgrade?

Downgrade rights (rights to use a prior version of a product) are granted as part of all the Volume Licensing Agreements. However, you need to refer to the Microsoft Product List for particular downgrade paths for specific products since they may have migrated to other products or other editions.

For more information, see the Volume Licensing Brief for Downgrade Rights.

I have licensed Office Professional Plus 2010 through a Volume Licensing agreement. Can I downgrade it to Office Standard 2010 or Office Standard 2007?

No. Downgrade rights grant the end user with the right to use prior versions of Microsoft software, not other editions of the software released at the same time unless explicitly stated in the Product Use Rights or Product List (i.e. Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise/Datacenter, SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise/Datacenter).

Please note that Microsoft makes a distinction between the term "version" and "edition" when referring to product licenses. The term "edition" means different functional offerings within a product family that are usually released at the same time (e.g. Office Professional Plus 2010 and Office Standard 2010). The term "version" refers to different generations of a product family. Downgrade rights between the current generation (N), the prior generation (N-1) and the generation prior to that (N-2) are limited to the same functional editions within each version (e.g. Windows 7 Professional downgrades to Windows Vista Business).

I need to downgrade to a prior version of a Microsoft product my organization licenses through Volume Licensing. How do I get prior versions of products?

While you have the right to downgrade products, in general, the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) provides download access only to the current (N) and the prior version (N-1) of products. Note: In addition to VLSC download software access, all Volume Licensing customers can choose to purchase physical media (CD/DVD) copies of their licensed software through their Microsoft reseller.

If you previously received physical media (CD/DVD) of prior Microsoft products which your organization is currently licensed to use through downgrade rights, you may use these prior software versions at your discretion. Learn more about Microsoft Volume Licensing fulfillment.

Re-imaging Rights

I have a Volume Licensing agreement and purchased 1,000 OEM PCs with Windows XP Professional installed which were downgraded from Windows 7 Professional. Can I use Volume Licensing Media and a Volume Licensing Key (VLK) for Windows XP Professional to reimage those 1,000 PCs without purchasing additional 1,000 Windows Professional Upgrade licenses?

Yes, you may use Volume Licensing Media and a VLK to reimage those OEM PCs if you have a Volume Licensing agreement. Note, if you are an Open customer, you must purchase at least one Windows Professional Upgrade license under their Open License authorization number to obtain the media and VLK(s).

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Reimaging Rights.

Software Assurance

I purchased Office Professional Plus 2007 with Software Assurance (SA) and my SA coverage recently expired. How can I confirm which product version I am entitled to upgrade to under the SA New Version Rights benefit?

You can confirm when products were made available in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Product List.

I purchased a product license with SA coverage almost three years ago. I want to renew my SA coverage now. However, the product has been rebranded and renamed since I first licensed it. Where can I find information about which new product version I should purchase with SA?

You can confirm successive versions of products and particular SA migration paths for products which have migrated to other products or other editions in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Product List.

Can I add SA to an OEM/Retail product license?

Yes, you can attach standalone SA coverage in this case but only within 90 days after you purchase an OEM/Retail (FPP – Full Packaged Product) product license. This option is only available for particular products through particular Volume Licensing Programs. See Microsoft Volume Licensing Product List for details.

If I attach SA to an OEM/Retail product license within 90 days, which use rights apply?

If you acquire Software Assurance for an OEM/Retail (FPP – Full Packaged Product) product license within 90 days of purchase, you gain the option of installing and using the Volume Licensing software version of the product at any time. If you do this, your use of the software becomes subject to the Microsoft Product Use Rights for that product and the terms and conditions of your organization's Volume Licensing Agreement.

Third Party Use

In our company we have onsite contractors who work on short-term projects. Can we assign Microsoft product licenses (Office, CALs, etc.) which we purchased through our own Volume Licensing agreement to these contractor-owned devices so they use our licensed software for our projects?

Yes, as long as those licenses are used for the benefit of your company, the licensee, you can assign your licenses to third party devices.

You are limited in how often you can assign your licenses. Volume Licensing product licenses can only be reassigned to other devices every 90 days, not more frequently. If the software will be used for the benefit of the contractors and not your organization then the contractor needs to purchase their own licenses or optionally explore other types of short-term software subscription licenses.

Upgrade License

What is a "Volume Licensing Upgrade License" for the Windows Operating System for PCs?

You cannot buy full Windows operating system licenses for desktop PCs through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. Volume Licensing only provides Windows upgrade licenses. You must first have licensed and installed a qualified full desktop PC operating system on your device before you are eligible to acquire an upgrade license for the Windows desktop PC operating system for that device through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs.

Windows 8 Enterprise Edition

I purchased Software Assurance (SA) for Windows, giving me the right to upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise edition. Can I reassign that operating system license to another PC and use Windows 8 Enterprise Edition on it?

No. You may not move Windows 8 Enterprise from a licensed device to another device. However, you may reassign active Software Assurance coverage to a replacement device internally, so long as (1) the replacement computer is licensed to run the latest version of that operating system, and (2) you remove any desktop operating system upgrades from the original computer, as permitted under your Volume Licensing agreement.

If you are eligible for perpetual licenses under your Volume Licensing agreement, you can continue using Windows 8 Enterprise on a PC even after your Software Assurance coverage has expired for that device. However, Windows 8 Virtualization Rights benefits of Software Assurance expire when Software Assurance coverage expires. Learn more about Windows 8 Enterprise licensing.

Access by Multiple Users/Devices

Can I use Windows 8 Pro like a "server" to host applications?

No. The Windows desktop operating system cannot be used as a "server." Device connection is allowed only for certain purposes (such as File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services, Internet Connection Sharing and Telephony Services). If you want to host applications and access them from multiple devices or for multiple users simultaneously, you need to license Server/CAL products. For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Licensing Windows Client and Server Operating Systems in Multiuser Scenarios.

Can I install multiple copies of the Windows operating system after I buy a Windows 8 Pro Upgrade license under my Volume Licensing agreement?

No. You can install multiple copies of the Windows operating system only if the desktop PC licensed for Windows 8 Pro is covered with active Software Assurance for Windows. The right to install and use additional copies of the software is granted under supplemental use rights associated with active Software Assurance for Windows.

I am using a PC with Windows 8 Enterprise that has four virtual machines (VMs) running on it. Can other users remotely access these VMs while I'm using my PC?

No. The use of the software is limited to one user at any given time. For more information, please see the Volume Licensing Brief Licensing Windows Desktop Operating System for Use with Virtual Machine Technologies.

Rental Rights

My company has rented PCs for its employees from a PC rental company. Should I purchase Rental Right licenses?

No. End-user customers do not buy Rental Rights licenses. These special, supplemental licenses are for purchase by PC rental or leasing companies which buy and continue to own fleets of PCs. Learn more about Rental Rights.

When does my organization need Rental Rights licenses?

Rental Rights licenses address scenarios in which organizations rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties. The following are examples of scenarios that are in and out of the scope of the Rental Rights licenses.

In Scope

Out of Scope

Office equipment leasing companies
Business service centers (for example, copy/print stores)
Internet cafés
Hotel and airport kiosks
Government-tendered shared access

License Microsoft products via a hosted solution (Services Provider License Agreement [SPLA])
Libraries
Academic institutions
Internal use (shared PCs)
Traditional financing (for example, rent-to-own programs)
Finance Leases and Long Term Leases are permitted as described in the Lease Agreement For Microsoft Products Installed on Leased Computers

Windows VDA Subscription License and Roaming Use Rights

What is the Windows VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) subscription license?

Windows VDA is a device-based subscription license designed to help organizations license devices that do not qualify for Software Assurance (SA) (such as 'thin client' devices or non-employee contractor PCs). They license the right to be able to access a virtual desktop. Windows VDA subscription is available through major Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. Learn more about Windows VDA subscription.

What are Roaming Use Rights for Windows?

The single primary user of a device with a Windows VDA subscription license at work can access his or her Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) desktop from any device that is not owned or affiliated with the user's organization. This enables a VDI user to access their secure corporate desktop through an unmanaged device such as a home PC or an Internet kiosk, without the need for their company-owned PC. If the user does not have a company-owned device at work that is licensed for Windows VDA subscription and needs to access their VDI desktop from a home PC, then the home PC would need to be covered with a separate Windows VDA subscription license.

These Roaming Use Rights are also available for the single primary user of a device licensed with Software Assurance for Windows, MDOP, Software Assurance for Office Professional Plus, or a VDI Suite license. Learn more about Windows VDA subscription.

We have Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA). Can we provide Windows-based desktops as a hosted service for our end customers through SPLA?

Currently, there is no SPLA model for Windows VDA. Hence, customers who subscribe to desktops from a third-party hoster will need to pay Microsoft for a Windows VDA license for each device accessing Windows client virtual machines in the datacenter. Additionally, hosters need to ensure that they isolate the hardware and other resources for each company (that is, no two customers can share the same set of resources, such as hardware, storage, and so on).

Remote Access

Do I need a Windows VDA subscription license to remotely access my work PC (licensed to run Windows 8 Pro) in the office from my home PC (licensed to run Windows 7 Home Premium)?

The Windows VDA subscription license is not required if you are the single primary user of the licensed device (work PC in the office). In that case, you may remotely access that PC from any device. Non-primary users may access that PC if the remote device is separately licensed to run Windows 8 Pro or the remote device has the active Windows VDA subscription license.

Office Professional Plus for Office 365

Office Professional Plus is offered as a software product and under subscription services. Aren’t those the same product?

No. The products both offer a great productivity experience, but they should not be considered the same product. Office Professional Plus for Office 365 is a per-user subscription service offering and not a desktop application software product. This means that you must have an active subscription to use the software. You can install and use the software on up to five different devices while the subscription is active. Perpetual rights are typically available under a desktop application license. This means that you have the right to use the software for as long as you want (as long as you comply with other licensing conditions); however, that license is assigned to a single device that may be used by different users (one at a time). Think of these two products as two different ways to consume Microsoft Office—you can choose the offering that best fits your needs.

I have a personal laptop device that I like using at work for meetings. How should I license this device if I want to use Office Professional Plus for Office 365?

If you are licensed for Office Professional Plus for Office 365, you may deploy and use Office on up to five devices, anywhere, either company-managed or third-party devices. You may deploy one of five permitted copies on a personal laptop device and work from it anywhere, at home or at work.

Our company has a mixed deployment of Office Professional Plus 2007 and Office Professional Plus 2010 under a Select Plus agreement. May I use Office Professional Plus 2010 in place of my Office Professional Plus for Office 365 license? Aren’t those the same product?

No. Office Professional Plus for Office 365 is a per-user subscription service and not a desktop application software product (like Office Professional Plus 2010). Therefore, you must deploy the user-authenticated software provided to Office 365 users.

For Enterprise and Enterprise Subscription customers, there is a one-time exception during the introduction of Office Professional Plus for Office 365. If those customers have deployed Office Professional Plus 2010 under their Enterprise or Enterprise Subscription agreement, they may use Office Professional Plus 2010 software in place of Office Professional Plus for Office 365 user-authenticated software. Although those customers may be allowed to use Office Professional Plus 2010 software, they are still required to comply with the use rights under their Office Professional Subscription license and no perpetual software rights apply.

All customers will need to comply with Online Services upgrade requirements in the next release. For more information on Online Services upgrade requirements, see the Microsoft Product Use Rights (PUR).

Qualified Device

According to the Microsoft Product Use Rights, the right to install an additional copy on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device, termed the "portable device right," is available for Microsoft Desktop Applications. My company has over 1,000 Office Professional Plus licenses under an Enterprise Agreement. Do I have portable device rights to also install Office on a 1,000 portable computers?

No. The "portable device right" is not relevant for Office Professional Plus licenses purchased as "company-wide" Enterprise Products under the terms of Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription Agreement, Open Value Company-wide, Open Value Subscription and Campus and School Agreements.

For those programs, all devices including portable computers that are used by or for the benefit of an organization's users need to be counted as Qualified Devices in order to purchase Enterprise Products (Windows Upgrade licenses, Office Professional Plus ,Core CAL Suite/Enterprise CAL Suite, etc.).

For more information, see your Volume License Agreement and Microsoft Product Use Rights.

Office Web Apps

My company has purchased 1,000 Office Professional Plus 2010 licenses under a Select License Agreement. How can we access and use Office Web Apps?

The single primary user of the licensed device may access and use Office Web Apps remotely from any device. Users who are not the primary user may access and use Office Web Apps one at a time from the licensed device. Software Assurance is not required for this use right.

Remote Access

Do I need an additional Office license to be able to remotely access my work PC in my office from my home PC?

If you are the single primary user of that work PC in the office, you may remotely access that PC from any device. But if you are not the primary user of that work PC, you will need an additional Office license on the device you are using.

The Volume Licensing Product Use Rights (PUR) say I can use desktop application software on a network device. What does this mean?

Under the network use provision, you may run software on a network server which will be accessed and used by your licensed desktops using Remote Desktop Services (or similar technology) and/or VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). To access applications such as Office on your network you must also license each remote accessing device even if Office software is not installed on the local device (for example the local device is a "thin client").

I have installed Microsoft Office on a network server for access using Windows Remote Desktop Services. I have acquired Remote Desktop Services User Client Access Licenses (CALs) for each of my employees. I want my employees to be able to access Microsoft Office from any desktop/thin client. What licenses are needed to properly license Microsoft Office within this environment?

Since Microsoft Office is licensed through a device-based licensing model only, each desktop desktop/thin client that is used to access Microsoft Office using Remote Desktop Services must have a separate Microsoft Office license dedicated to it. Licenses for Microsoft Office cannot be shared across desktops to support concurrent use. Furthermore, with the 2007 release, generally only licenses obtained through Volume Licensing can be deployed to a network server for remote access. The same rules apply to VDI scenarios. Each desktop/thin client that is used to access Microsoft Office running on virtual desktops on the server must have a separate Microsoft Office license dedicated to it. For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Licensing of Microsoft Desktop Application Software for Use with Windows Server Terminal Services.

Multiple Copies on a Licensed Device

I am running four Virtual Machines (VMs) with Windows 7 Enterprise on a PC which has active Software Assurance coverage. Can I install the Office suite in each of the four VMs using only one Office Professional Plus 2010 license?

Yes, you may install any number of copies and any prior version on the licensed device. Software Assurance is not required for this use right for Office.

CAL Requirements

I have Exchange Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008 R2. Are all Client Access Licenses (CALs) licensed in the same way?

No. CAL requirements differ among server products. The general rule is that you must acquire and assign a CAL to each device or user that accesses your server software directly, or indirectly. Beyond that, however, there may be product-specific exceptions to that rule, which affects a given product’s CAL requirement.

With Exchange Server 2010, for example, CALs are not required unless the server access is directly or indirectly authenticated via Active Directory.

Please consult Microsoft Product Use Rights for complete information about the different Microsoft CAL requirements.

Do additive CALs work with only specific editions of server software, such as Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition, or do they work with any edition?

Generally, additive CALs can access any edition of server software. For example, Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010 are available in both a Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition. The Exchange Standard CAL and Exchange Enterprise CAL may be used with either edition of the server software.

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Base and Additive Client Access Licenses.

Company B is an affiliate (a term defined in Volume Licensing agreements) of Company A. I have CALs purchased by company A under a Select Agreement to access company A's servers. Can I also access servers purchased by company B (under an Open License) utilizing those CALs?

Yes. Your company's CALs permit access to servers licensed by your company or its affiliates. They do not permit access to any other entity's licensed servers.

Do I need a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL if I am using a third-party technology (like Citrix XenApp, Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect, Quest Virtual Access Suite, GraphOn Go-Global, etc.) in conjunction with Windows Server to directly or indirectly access server software to interact with a graphical user interface?

Yes. An RDS CAL is required for any technology used to directly or indirectly interact with a graphical user interface. This includes (but is not limited to) using Microsoft Remote Desktop Services or other third-party software that enables multiuser scenarios on Windows Server.

Do I need an RDS CAL if I am not running a multiuser environment but use functionality in Remote Desktop Services; for example, Remote Desktop Services Gateway?

Yes. An RDS CAL is required for the use of any functionality included in the Remote Desktop Services role in Windows Server. For example, if you are using RDS Gateway and/or RDS Web Access to provide access to a Windows client operating system on an individual PC/virtual desktop, both an RDS CAL and a Windows Server CAL are required.

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Licensing Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services.

If a user or device accesses a server running Windows Server but is authenticating via a third-party authentication application (non-Microsoft-based authentication), does the user or device still require a Windows Server CAL?

Yes, if the user or device is authenticated or otherwise individually identified by a server running Windows Server through any other means, it requires a Windows Server CAL. The specific Windows Server CAL requirement is defined in the Microsoft Product Use Rights as follows: "You do not need CALs for any user or device that accesses your instances of the server software only through the Internet without being authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means."

Multiplexing

I am aware that "accessing or using the services or functionality of SQL Server or any of its components (e.g. Reporting Services)" always requires a SQL Server CAL. What about a situation where a user posts a report (a defined publication of information on a fixed schedule) and other users simply look at the report in an html file or website? They cannot actively influence the content which is being displayed. If the information from this report in html format is being made visible to other users, do they need SQL Server CALs?

Yes. If those processes by which the data is made accessible to users are all automated, SQL Server CALs (or per processor licenses) are required since this use is considered a multiplexing scenario. Multiplexing does not reduce the number of Microsoft licenses required. End users are required to have appropriate licenses, regardless of their direct or indirect connection to the product. Any user or device that accesses the server, files, or data or content provided by the server that is made available through an automated process requires a CAL.

However, if someone manually uploads/sends an html file which was made by SQL Server to a Web Site, then SQL CALs are not required. For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for Multiplexing.

EC versus SPLA

I have external users (users who are not employees or onsite contractors) who will access our servers. How do I choose between External Connector licenses or licensing these users through the SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement)?

An External Connector (EC) license is an alternative to CALs for each server that external users will access. An EC license assigned to a server permits access by any number of external users, as long as that access is for the benefit of the licensee and not the external user. If the usage does not meet these conditions you need to choose SPLA since such access is considered Hosting.

Multi-tenant

I am a SPLA Hosting Provider. Can end-customer-owned licenses (such as SQL Server, Exchange Server, or other server applications acquired through Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreements) be relied upon for licensing a guest user in my virtualized environment licensed under SPLA?

Yes. If your end customer has active Software Assurance on a qualifying server application licensed product, your end customer may use their qualifying license to run the application in a SPLA virtualized environment. The virtualized environment used by the end customer must be dedicated to the customer’s sole use, and may not be shared with any other separately licensed end customers. In addition, the SPLA providing the hosted service to the end customer must be an Authorized Mobility Partner.

For details, visit the License Mobility through Software Assurance Web page.

Per Processor License

For Microsoft software licensed on a per-processor basis, I know that each processor counts as a single processor, regardless of the number of cores and/or threads that the processor contains. How does per-processor licensing work for virtual environments?

Under the per processor license model, you must assign a license to each processor on a server that the software uses. For software running in physical operating system environments (OSEs), you must license each physical processor, and for software running in virtual OSEs, you need to license only the virtual processors the software uses.

For more information, download the following Volume Licensing brief and SQL Server Licensing Guides:

Management Licenses

What do the System Center Server Management Suites license?

All Management Server products require management licenses for each device managed by the server software. There are two categories of management licenses: one for server operating system environments and one for all other operating system environments.

The System Center server management suites (Enterprise and Datacenter editions) are generally the best way to acquire server management licenses.

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise and Server Management Suite Datacenter.

Are server licenses for management servers included in System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise (SMSE) and Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD)?

Some server licenses are included in management licenses (ML). For System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, you will be deemed to have acquired one server license if you acquired management licenses for those products or SMSEs/SMSDs with Software Assurance during the dates specified in the Product Use Rights.

See Microsoft Product Use Rights for details.

Specialty Server

I am using Windows Web Server 2008 to deploy Internet facing web services. Is a Windows Server CAL required if access to the servers is authenticated?

No. Windows Web Server 2008 is licensed with a server license only and no CALs are required even if the access is authenticated. However, when Windows Web Server 2008 is used as a scale-out front end for applications running on back end servers, Windows Server CALs may still be required on these back end servers running Windows Server.

How is SharePoint Server for Internet Sites licensed?

SharePoint Server for Internet Sites is designed to create external Internet and/or extranet sites for enterprise content infrastructure. All content, information, and applications accessible by internal users must also be accessible to external users. Users accessing that content do not require Client Access Licenses (CALs).

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Brief for SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites.

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