Frequently asked questions about product licensing

Get answers to your product licensing questions. This page contains answers to the top product licensing questions that our Microsoft support teams receive.

Frequently asked questions about product licensing

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 answered here, please contact your Microsoft reseller or your regional Microsoft customer support center.

GeneralWindows client operating systemDesktopServers


Introduction to Product Terms

The Product Terms replaced the Product List and Product Use Rights (PUR) beginning July 1, 2015. The Product Terms consolidates and distills the content previously published in the Product List and PUR, without substantively changing terms and conditions for existing products. We combined the two documents into one Product Terms document that is structured based on the products so that it’s easier to understand how to purchase and use products. The new document reduces the overall size of the contract without diminishing customers’ use rights.

The Product Terms is backward compatible with existing Volume Licensing agreements. The Product Terms states that references to Product Use Rights and the Product List in customer agreements refer to the applicable sections of the new document. The Product Terms does not substantively change how you may deploy and use products, and existing customers can look to the Product Terms (for products covered by the new document) or, as your agreements permit, the existing Product Use Rights for your use of product versions that were available prior to July 1, 2015. For more information, download Microsoft Product Terms Explained.

The Product Terms is organized around Product Entries. The Product Entries provide information specific to a product and point you to other relevant content in supporting sections of the document (for example, Universal License Terms or the Software Assurance Appendix). Product Entries provide Program Availability, Product Conditions, Use Rights, and Software Assurance terms. The document is designed to be easy to use. For example, you can point to the blue text to display term definitions or click links in the document to go to relevant terms and conditions outside of the Product Entries.

The Product Terms will be updated monthly. These monthly updates enable the use rights to be aligned with price list availability.

The terms of your Volume Licensing agreement determine which license terms apply to the use of software. In some cases, the Product Terms in effect at signing an Enrollment govern use of all versions available as of that date and all licenses for those versions purchased during the Enrollment, regardless of the specific license order date. In other cases, the Product Terms in effect as of the order date govern use of software under licenses acquired.

Downgrade rights

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 Terms for particular downgrade paths for specific products because they may have migrated to other products or other editions.

For more information, see the Volume Licensing brief for downgrade rights.

No. Downgrade rights grant the end user 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 Terms (or successor documents).

Note that Microsoft makes a distinction between the terms "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 (for example, Office Professional Plus 2013 and Office Standard 2013). 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 (for example, Windows 10 Pro downgrades to Windows 8.1 Pro).

Although you have the right to downgrade products, the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) generally 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 that 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.

Reimaging rights

Yes, however some conditions apply. For more information, download the Volume Licensing brief for reimaging rights.

Software Assurance

To confirm successor versions of products and particular Software Assurance migration paths for products that have migrated to other products or other editions, review the Microsoft Product Terms. Refer to the index for products no longer available. The index will refer you to relevant migration rights and the Product Terms (or Product List) update in which they appeared.

Yes, you can attach standalone Software Assurance coverage to an OEM/Retail product license, but you must do so within 90 days of purchasing the OEM/Retail (FPP; full packaged product) product license. This option is available only for particular products through particular Volume Licensing programs. For details, see the Microsoft Product Terms.

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 Terms for that product and the terms and conditions of your organization's Volume Licensing agreement.

Third-party use

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 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 contractors need to purchase their own licenses or explore other types of short-term software subscription licenses.

Windows client operating system

Windows 10

The following Windows 10 editions are offered through Volume Licensing:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 (available per user or per device)
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E5 (available per user or per device)
  • Windows 10 Pro Upgrade
  • Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) (available per user or per device)
  • Windows 10 Education E3/A3
  • Windows 10 Education E5/A5

See the Microsoft Product Terms for details by offer.

No. Windows 10 Enterprise offers are only available for purchase through Volume Licensing agreements.

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is a service that helps enterprises detect, investigate, and respond to advanced attacks on their networks. It is only available in Windows 10 Enterprise E5 through Volume Licensing. Learn more about Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

Windows 10 Enterprise with Software Assurance is now Windows 10 Enterprise E3. And Windows 10 Education is now Windows 10 Education E3/A3. These are simply name changes, with no change to included features.

Upgrade license

Microsoft Volume Licensing programs do not offer Windows desktop operating system licenses; Volume Licensing provides only Windows upgrade licenses. Before you are eligible to acquire an upgrade license for the Windows desktop PC operating system through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, you must first have licensed and installed a qualified full desktop operating system on your device.

Access by multiple users/devices

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, Licensing Windows client and server operating systems in multiuser scenarios (PDF, 530 KB).

You can install multiple copies of the Windows operating system on the licensed device only if the device licensed for Windows Enterprise is covered with active Software Assurance for Windows, as stated in the Microsoft Product Terms.

No. The use of the software is limited to one user at any given time. This includes the use of Roaming Rights (see below); while the primary user is accessing Roaming Rights, no other user is permitted to use the actual licensed device. For more information, see the Volume Licensing brief, Licensing Windows desktop operating system for use with virtual machines (PDF, 270 KB).

Rental Rights

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

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 (PDF, 510 KB)

Software Assurance and Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA)

Windows Enterprise is the only edition eligible for Software Assurance. Learn more about Software Assurance.

Windows VDA is a per device or per user subscription license designed to help organizations license devices or users that do not qualify for Software Assurance, such as "thin client" devices and users who are not the primary user of a device that qualifies for Software Assurance. The license provides the right to access a virtual desktop. Per device and per user Windows VDA subscriptions are available through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Enterprise Agreement, Select Plus, Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, and Enrollment for Education Solutions programs. Per device Windows VDA subscriptions are also available through the Open Value and Open Value Subscription programs.

Yes. With Windows Enterprise per User and Windows VDA per User options, you license an individual instead of a device. With the per user license, you can:

  • Install Windows Enterprise locally on any of the licensed user’s devices that are licensed for Windows 7/8/8.1/10, and any Windows tablet that has a diagonal screen size of 10.1 inches or fewer.
  • Access Windows Enterprise across any of the licensed user’s devices with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Windows To Go.

Learn more about Windows Enterprise per User and Windows VDA per User.

Currently, there is no SPLA model for Windows VDA. 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 the like).

Remote access

No. No more than once every 90 days, you may designate a single user who physically uses the licensed device as the licensed user. The licensed user may access the licensed device from another device using remote access technologies. Other users, at different times, may access the licensed device from another device using remote access technologies, but only on devices that are separately licensed to run the same or higher edition of this software.


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