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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 Software Assurance 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

License access to Windows Enterprise on a per user basis

Now you can license access to Windows Enterprise on a per user basis through the new Windows Software Assurance per User and Windows VDA per User licensing options. These options put your users at the center of your Windows licensing solution, give you flexible options for how you deploy and access Windows across devices, and simplify Windows licensing and management.

With per user licensing you can:

  • Free your users to use or access Windows Enterprise across all their devices.

  • Deliver Windows Enterprise across devices through local install, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), or Windows To Go.*

  • Gain the simplicity of counting users instead of counting all of their various devices—enabling Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios without the need to track every device and license.

*Subject to licensing and technical limitations



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.

Flexible access to Windows Enterprise

One of the most valuable benefits you receive through Windows Software Assurance and Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) is flexible access to Windows Enterprise. This table outlines those access rights. For full details about the access rights granted, refer to the Software Assurance Benefits section of the Microsoft Volume Licensing Product Use Rights (PUR).


Access Rights to Windows Enterprise:

Per User

Per Device

Software Assurance

Virtual Desktop Access

Software Assurance

Virtual Desktop Access

Local Install

Any device licensed for Windows 7/8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise and any Windows tablet with a diagonal screen size of 10.1 inches or less

The licensed device only

The licensed device only if also licensed for Windows 7/8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise

Remote Access Through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Windows To Go

Any device

Noncorporate devices while away from the office (through Roaming Use Rights)

Software Assurance benefits

Whether you license Windows Software Assurance or Windows VDA on a per device or per user basis, you receive a number of benefits specific to Windows. Learn more about the unique benefits of Software Assurance for Windows.


To learn about your options for acquiring Windows Software Assurance, see 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.


Software Assurance for Windows
You can license Windows Software Assurance on a per device or per user basis. For devices or users that do not qualify for Windows Software Assurance, you can license Windows VDA for access to the benefits of Windows Software Assurance. With Windows Software Assurance and Windows VDA, you get flexible access to Windows Enterprise, plus a number of additional benefits.


Licensing Windows Software Assurance on a per device basis

You can license Windows Software Assurance on a per device basis in the following ways:

  • When you purchase a Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade license through Volume Licensing, you can also acquire Software Assurance for that license.

  • Software Assurance is automatically included in certain Volume Licensing programs, such as Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription Agreement, Open Value, Open Value Subscription, and Enrollment for Education Solutions.

For devices that do not qualify for Windows Software Assurance (such as thin clients), you can access Windows Software Assurance benefits by purchasing the Windows VDA subscription.


Licensing Windows Software Assurance on a per user basis

There are three different per user options: Windows Software Assurance per User, Windows VDA per User, and Windows Software Assurance per User Add-on. The following table offers a comparison of these three options.


 

Windows Software Assurance per User

Windows VDA per User

Windows Software Assurance per User Add-on

When Added to Windows Software Assurance per Device

When Added to Windows VDA per Device

Licensing Requirements

Primary user’s primary device must be licensed for Windows 7/8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise

No device requirements; may be assigned to any user

Primary user’s primary device must already be covered by Windows Software Assurance

Primary user’s primary device must already be covered by Windows VDA

License Model

Per user; no device limits

Local Install of Windows Enterprise

On any device running Windows 7/8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise or Windows tablet up to 10.1 inches in diagonal screen size

VDI Access and Windows To Go

Available from any device

MDOP

Single MDOP subscription extends across all of a user’s devices

Note: ”Primary user’s primary device” means the user is the primary user of the device AND the device is that user’s primary work device.


For additional help choosing the right per user option, plus more details on the access rights to Windows Enterprise and other benefits of Software Assurance, refer to the Volume Licensing Guide for Windows 8.1 (PDF, 793 KB).



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

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) & 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 (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 Product Page
Microsoft Licensing for Consumerization of IT