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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 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.

What’s New

(effective March 2014)

Windows Enterprise:

  • Windows Enterprise Upgrade is available without an annuity agreement.

  • Attach Software Assurance to the Windows Enterprise Upgrade to access additional benefits.

  • Sideloading rights are now included in many volume license agreements.

  • New Windows Software Assurance benefit provides access to Windows Embedded Industry.

For more information, download the Volume Licensing Guide for Windows 8.1 (PDF, 793 KB).

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 offerings and use rights listed below, Software Assurance for the Windows desktop operating system provides the maximum value for your investment.


Software Assurance for Windows is available for PCs licensed for Windows 8.1 Enterprise.


When you purchase new PCs purchased prior to July 1, 2014, with Windows 8.1 Pro preinstalled by the OEM, you can purchase Software Assurance for Windows through the Open License or Select Plus programs within 90 days of the PC purchase. This option will no longer be available as of July 1, 2014.


Unique Benefits of Software Assurance for Windows (PDF, 262 KB)


Benefit

Description

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 Embedded Industry Edition Rights
Windows Embedded Industry (part of the Windows Embedded family) is designed to meet the needs of industry devices like ATMs, Point of Service systems, kiosks, and medical devices. Windows Embedded Industry Edition Rights give you the ability to run current or prior versions of Windows Embedded Industry to ensure that you have the right Windows edition for any scenario, on any device.
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 and Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Volume Licensing is the most cost-effective way for commercial customers to upgrade existing PCs to Windows 8.1. You can purchase upgrade licenses through a Volume Licensing program to gain access to Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 8.1 Enterprise, and you can attach Software Assurance to your Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade licenses. 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.


Software Assurance for Windows
Software Assurance is a cost-effective program that provides new product versions and exclusive technologies, including the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Software Assurance also helps you use IT to maximize your productivity with deployment planning, training, and support benefits.


Software Assurance is available for PCs licensed for Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Software Assurance is included when you license Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade through the Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription Enrollment, Open Value, Enrollment for Education Solutions, and School Enrollment Volume Licensing programs. When you purchase Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade through the Select Plus or Open License programs, you have the option to include Software Assurance with the licenses.


Note: When you purchase new PCs prior to July 1, 2014, with Windows 8.1 Pro preinstalled by the OEM, you can purchase Software Assurance for Windows through the Open License or Select Plus programs within 90 days of the PC purchase. This option will no longer be available as of July 1, 2014.


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 or Windows 8.1 Enterprise 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