A guide to Microsoft software licensing for your small business



Software licensing is a contract of agreement between the software publisher and the end user regarding the use or redistribution of the software. There are various license options Microsoft offers, such as retail license, OEM license and volume license. Choosing the best licensing option to your business helps you reduce cost, get more customized purchasing options, and improve your software management. Additionally, software assurance that comes with licenses helps you get the most out of your software investment.
Convenient and cost-effective software licensing for small business
This easy to use guide offers the following information:
  • Provide the background of license.
  • Explain various license options.
  • Help you choose the best license option for your business.
  • Help you learn when to buy more licenses.
  • Explain licensing for Microsoft Online Services.

The link below will navigate your web browser to a guided tutorial which will help you solve your problem

Start guided walkthrough.

Learn more about licenses and why I need them

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about licensing. Click a question to see the answer.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual PropertyIntellectual property includes ideas and creative expressions that may have commercial value. These items are intangible and not easily defined or identified by their physical parameters. Therefore, they are copyrighted. A copyright is an intellectual property right (IPR) and is protected by international copyright laws. IPRs include copyrights, trademarks, and patents. These laws enable the owners of the intellectual property to decide who can access and use their property and to protect it from unauthorized use.

What is license?

A software license provides the legal right to install, use, access, display, run, or otherwise interact with a software program. A license does not necessarily include the rights to media, manuals, or support. Software use is determined by the Microsoft Software License Terms. When you obtain a software license, you must agree to those terms to use the software.

License enforcement and compliance protects a software developer's investment in his or her intellectual property. As a user, correct compliance guarantees that your use of the software is covered by the terms of the license. Correct compliance also protects you from pirated and potentially corrupted or malfunctioning software. In addition, when obtaining your license, you frequently can select to receive technical services and support to maximize your investment.
License Concept

What is a Retail license?

A retail license is usually a single license that comes with the software when it is purchased. The consumer owns the software and the retail license. The software can be installed on any device as long as it is only installed on one device at a time.

What is an OEM license?

An OEM license is the license that allows you to use the software that is included on a device when you purchase it. The license cannot legally be transferred to another computer and it must be disposed of with the computer.

What is Microsoft Volume Licensing?

Volume LicensingVolume licensing makes it easier and more affordable to run software on many devices in a single licensing organization. By obtaining software licenses through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, you only pay for the software license.

Boxed software, on the other hand, includes media (the CD-ROM or DVD), a user's guide, and other packaging items. Eliminating these physical costs and purchasing licenses in volume frequently reduces cost and provides more customized licensing options and improved software management.

Depending on the Volume Licensing program that you select, you may receive media. But you can also decide to download or otherwise obtain media (or supplemental media), documentation, and product support separately as needed

What is Microsoft Software Assurance?

Software Assurance is offered by Microsoft to provide comprehensive maintenance that can help you get the most out of your software investment. The latest software is combined with benefits such as telephone support, partner services, training, and IT tools.

You can include Software Assurance when you buy the licenses and you can start to use your benefits immediately and for the term of your coverage.
Software Assurance

What is a license agreement?

License AgreementWhen you participate in a Microsoft Volume Licensing program, you must accept a license agreement between your organization and Microsoft. This license agreement defines the Software License Terms. For example, it determines whether the software can be installed on more than one device or other device, and for how long it can be used. When you buy and install new software, you must accept the license agreement to legally use that software. You should understand the content of license agreements and the differences between specific licensing programs.

What is the license life span?

Licenses can have different life spans. They can be either perpetual or non-perpetual.
  • Perpetual licenses are valid as long as the software is being used according to the license agreement and its Software License Terms.
  • Non-perpetual licenses are also known as subscription licenses. These are temporary and provide the right to use a particular licensed product as described in the license agreement. For example, the product can be used until the end of that agreement's term or until the anniversary of the effective date of that agreement if the software is being used in compliance with the license agreement and its Software License Terms. Non-perpetual licenses are available only through certain comprehensive Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. Non-perpetual licenses are also available for certain products such as Microsoft Online Services, Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, and Windows Virtual Desktop Access.

What are "Downgrade rights"?

Downgrade RightsMicrosoft Volume Licensing agreements include references to specific rights to use any earlier versions of licensed Microsoft software. These rights are frequently known as "downgrade rights".

Microsoft makes a distinction between the term "version" and "edition" when they refer to product licenses. The term "edition" means different functional offerings in a product family that are usually released at the same time (that is, Office Professional Plus 2010 and Office Standard 2010). The term "version" refers to different generations of a product family, such as Office 2007 and Office 2010. Downgrade rights between the current generation (N), the prior generation (N-1) and the generation earlier than that (N-2) are limited to the same functional editions within each version (that is, Windows 7 Enterprise downgrades to Windows Vista Enterprise).

Note These FAQs and answers are from the PUR Explained PDF document. For more information, also see Media Fulfillment and Downgrade Rights Brief.

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Article ID: 2808203 - Last Review: 08/21/2015 10:21:00 - Revision: 7.0

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