Microsoft Windows® 8 Licensing

The proliferation of tablets and other portable computing devices is enabling increased user productivity both inside and outside the office. With the introduction of Windows 8® and Windows RT®, Microsoft® is offering unique tools and user rights such as Thin PC, Virtual Desktop Access, Windows To Go®, Sideloading, and Roaming Use Rights. These offerings enable users to access corporate data and applications on multiple devices and in multiple locations. These tools are designed to enable maximum flexibility without compromising network or data security. The easiest method to acquire these tools is to license Windows 8® with Software Assurance (SA), although some elements are available without SA for those customers who may not need the full benefit of SA or for products that may not qualify. The purpose of this article is to identify the primary licensing options and features available with Windows 8® and Windows RT®.

 

Microsoft® will release Windows 8® and Windows RT® on October 26, 2012. This latest version of Windows® will be available in four main editions as described below: 

 

Windows 8®

Windows 8® is the basic version, aimed at the home market segment. It is not available through Volume Licensing.

 

Windows 8 Professional®

Windows 8 Professional® succeeds Windows 7 Pro® and Ultimate. It includes additional security, networking, and mobility features which are appropriate for small and medium sized businesses. The Professional Edition is available through Volume Licensing.

 

Windows 8 Enterprise®

Windows 8 Enterprise® is essentially the same as Professional and includes additional features to assist with IT organization and management activities. The Enterprise edition is available from Volume Licensing but requires the addition of Software Assurance.

 

Windows RT®

Windows RT® will be pre-installed on ARM-based devices such as tablet PCs. It is only available to OEMs and may not be obtained through Volume Licensing. For information on licensing Windows RT® please contact your Microsoft® OEM Account Manager or Microsoft® OEM Sales.

 

All installations of Windows 8® obtained through Volume Licensing will be for upgrade (or downgrade) purposes only. The version being upgraded may date back as far as Windows 98®, depending upon which licensing model is being used (Open, Select, Enterprise, etc.). 

 

Microsoft® Volume Licensing offers the following options for Windows 8®:

 

Windows 8 Professional®

Windows 8 Professional® is intended for small to medium sized businesses. It contains the functionality and features of Windows 8® plus enhanced features that help to connect to networks, access files remotely, encrypt data, and more.

 

Windows 8 Enterprise®

Windows 8 Enterprise® includes the functionality of Windows Professional plus® further enhanced features for mobility, portability, security, IT management, and virtualization needed for large corporations. The Enterprise edition is only available with Software Assurance. Learn more about Windows 8 Enterprise® at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/default.aspx

 

Software Assurance

As previously noted, Software Assurance is required to obtain Windows 8 Enterprise®. In addition to Windows Enterprise®, SA customers receive version updates, flexible use rights, and a set of tools, technologies, and training to maximize the return on your Windows® investment. For new PCs with Windows® preinstalled, you may purchase Software Assurance for Windows® through the Open License or Select Plus programs within 90 days of the PC purchase.

 

The following tools & subscriptions are included with Software Assurance for Windows 8®:

 

Microsoft® Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)

The Microsoft® Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is an optional subscription add-on that enables businesses to virtualize operating system applications, manage Windows® features, and restore user productivity after a system issue. Learn more about MDOP at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/products-and-technologies/mdop/default.aspx

 

Windows® Virtual Desktop Access (VDA)

Windows® Virtual Desktop Access is a device based subscription license which enables access to virtual Windows® desktop environments from devices such as thin clients which are not covered by Software Assurance. VDA Rights are available either as a benefit of Software Assurance or through a separate VDA subscription license. Learn more about VDA subscription rights at http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/windows-virtualization.aspx

 

Windows® Companion Subscription License (CSL)

The optional Windows® Companion Subscription License (CSL) enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) functionality. By utilizing Bring Your Own Device, IT administrators can provide users with portable USB devices containing line of business applications, settings, and corporate data on a compatible USB storage device for use on up to four non-corporate PCs.

 

Windows® Thin PC

Windows® Thin PC enables customers to repurpose existing PCs as thin clients by providing a locked down version of Windows 7® with a smaller footprint. Windows® Thin PC is included with Software Assurance at no additional cost. It may also be obtained by purchasing a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription or by purchasing a Windows® Intune subscription.

 

Windows To Go®

Windows To Go® enables the creation of a Windows® workspace that can be booted from a Microsoft® certified USB device, regardless of the operating system running on the PC. Workspaces created with Windows To Go® can use the same images enterprises use for their desktop and laptop PCs. Windows To Go® is intended for use on devices outside the normal company owned systems such as employee owned PCs. Windows To Go® is not supported on Windows RT®.

 

Roaming Use Rights

Roaming Use Rights allow the primary user of any licensed device to access a virtual instance of Windows® running in a datacenter or Windows To Go®.

 

Windows RT® Companion Virtual Desktop Access

By using company owned Windows RT® devices, RT Companion VDA users can access corporate desktops with no additional Windows® license required. 

 

Enterprise Sideloading

Desktop applications can still be installed as they have been in the past, but for touch-optimized apps the user must either obtain and install them from the Windows® Store or employ the Sideloading utility. With Sideloading, users can install touch automated applications on domain-joined PCs without accessing the Windows® Store. Customers may also utilize Sideloading with Windows RT®, Pro, or Enterprise devices which are not domain-joined by using the Multiple Activation Key (MAK).  Enterprise Sideloading is included with the Enterprise edition of Windows 8®. Other customers may purchase Enterprise Sideloading licenses and MAK Keys through Volume Licensing.

 

Windows 8® Desktop Products Available for Purchase via Volume Licensing 

 

Product

Open License

Open value & Subscription

Select Plus & Select License

Enterprise Agreement & Subscription

Enrollment for Education Solutions

School Enrollment

Windows 8® Professional

X

 

X

     

Windows 8® Enterprise with Software Assurance

X

X

X

X

X

X

MDOP

 

X

X

X

X

X

Windows® VDA Subscription

 

X

X

X

X

X

Companion Subscription License (CSL)

   

X

X

X

X

Enterprise Sideloading License

X

 

X

     

 

Windows 8® Downgrade Rights    

Your rights to use prior versions of Windows® in place of Windows 8® (“downgrade rights”) depend upon how the license was acquired. For OEM versions preinstalled on a new PC the rights are limited to the equivalent edition for the two prior versions. Licenses acquired through Volume Licensing may be downgraded to any previous version. Retail licenses may not be downgraded.

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