Microsoft Volume Licensing Blog iconTwitter

Frequently asked questions about product licensing

We want to help our Volume Licensing customers get answers to their top product licensing questions. We have collected the top product licensing questions that 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.

Introduction to Product Terms

Downgrade rights

Reimaging rights

Software Assurance

Third-party use

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

Rental Rights

Software Assurance for Windows and Windows VDA subscription license

  • As of March 2014, Windows Enterprise is the only edition eligible for 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 Windows 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 the new Windows Software Assurance 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 Software Assurance 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

  • 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 Pro, the remote device has the active Windows VDA subscription license, or the user is licensed for Window Software Assurance per User or Windows VDA per User.
  • Roaming Use Rights enable Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) users 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. These rights enable a single primary user of a device that is covered with active Software Assurance for Windows or by a Windows VDA subscription license to access their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) desktop while off the organization’s premises, using any device that is not owned by or affiliated with the user's organization. A primary user is defined as the user who uses the device more than 50 percent of the time. If there is no user who uses the device more than 50 percent of the time, then there is no primary user for that particular device.

    If the user does not have a company-owned device at work that is licensed for Windows VDA subscription or active Software Assurance for Windows and the user needs to access the VDI desktop from a home PC, then the home PC would need to be covered with a separate Windows VDA subscription license or the user would need to be licensed for Windows Software Assurance per User or Windows VDA per User.

    These Roaming Use Rights are also available for the single primary user of a device that is licensed with MDOP, Software Assurance for Office Professional Plus, or a VDI Suite license.

    Note: Roaming Use Rights apply only to Windows Software Assurance and Windows VDA when licensed per device. Windows Software Assurance per User and Windows VDA per User licenses grant the same rights, but from any device, anywhere.

Office Professional Plus for Office 365

Qualified device

Remote access

Multiple copies on a licensed device

CAL requirements


EC versus SPLA


Specialty server

Did you find this page helpful? YesNo