• No matter what type of Volume Licensing agreement your organization has, it is important to understand the basics of Windows desktop licensing. Use the information below to ensure your organization is properly licensed.

  • Windows Desktop Licensing Rules

  • Each PC running Windows desktop software needs to have its own FULL Windows desktop license.

    With the introduction of Windows 8.1, there are two ways to acquire the initial full Windows license on a new PC:

    1. Preinstalled on a PC via a PC manufacturer or system builder—the most cost-effective way to acquire a Windows license.
    2. Through retail stores as a full packaged product.
  • When the license is intended for business use (except for academic institutions), the license that is acquired preinstalled or through a full package product must be a Windows Professional version.

  • Microsoft® Volume Licensing agreements cover the Windows desktop UPGRADE ONLY.

    This is true for all Volume Licensing agreements, including Academic and Government agreements, regardless of whether the agreement was purchased with or without Software Assurance.

    Windows upgrades are designed to upgrade a previously acquired qualifying license. An organization must first have the qualifying full underlying license before using a Volume Licensing agreement to upgrade that license to a new or different version.

  • Resources

    Industry-Specific Licensing Flyers

    Use the flyers below to help understand Windows desktop licensing specific to Academic, Government, Healthcare, and Small Business organizations.

    Download Academic.pdf

    Download Government.pdf

    Download Healthcare.pdf

    Download Small Business.pdf

    Legalization Solutions

    If you find your academic, government, healthcare organization or small business is at risk for unlicensed PCs, there are legalization solutions available. Click for details.

  • Keeping Your Organization Safe:

    • Do: Make sure any bid for new PCs includes a genuine operating system preinstalled.

      Resellers may attempt to save costs by excluding the Windows license. Getting Windows software preinstalled is your most cost-effective option. Getting an unlicensed PC is likely to cost you more in the long run.

    • Don’t: Use a Volume Licensing agreement to preinstall the initial full Windows License.

      Volume Licensing Agreements cover the Windows desktop upgrade only and not the initial underlying full Windows license.

    • Don’t: Transfer an OEM license from its original PC.

      An OEM Windows operating system may never be transferred from the PC on which it was originally installed, even if the PC is no longer in use.

    • Don’t: Download software from unauthorized Internet sites.

      This can put your PC at risk for counterfeit or unlicensed software.