The Windows Desktop Upgrade Volume License: Is reassignment an option?




Woody Walton


When it comes to Microsoft licensing, most know that it is necessarily or unnecessarily complex depending on who you are! Winking smile And although I am by title a Partner Technology Advisor, my support of Microsoft partners in the transaction process expose me to a lot of licensing scenarios and questions.   When I get a good question I like to relay it to all of you.


I was asked recently if the following statement was true:

The Windows [Volume license] upgrade license is “tied” to the device to which it is first assigned and may not be reassigned.


Before I answer the question, let me provide a little context and explain why confusion might exist regarding the reassignment of Volume License Windows upgrades.

1.) OEM licenses for our operating systems (client or server) as well as applications ARE tied to the device on which they were purchased with/first installed on.  These licenses are sold at a reduced cost to other licensing options and cannot be reassigned.  They live and die on the box they were


2.) A long known selling point of volume licensing in general is that licenses can be reassigned.   This is true of SOME volume licensed products, but not all.   server products in general can be reassigned. Windows Server 2012 standard for example can be reassigned to a different physical box.  This is due to the fact that it is a FULL version license and not an UPGRADE License.


3.) Most people do not know the explicit details and caveats of volume licensing, nor those that are particular to the Windows Upgrade License.  It is in fact mis-licensed frequently.


Based on the points above you may have surmised that the statement is TRUE.  This can be confirmed by reading the Volume licensing brief on Windows Desktop Operating System License Requirements.

Some of you are probably saying to yourself right now, “well why would I pay extra to get an upgrade license for the Windows Desktop that I cannot reassign?   I am in the same situation as with an OEM license”.  …this only partially true.  You have the option to add Software Assurance, which has many other benefits and you do get to “Upgrade” to the current version of Windows.


That said, take note of the following from the aforementioned Brief:


However, Volume Licensing customers are eligible to reassign Software Assurance coverage to an appropriately licensed replacement device. The replacement device must be licensed to run the latest version of the desktop PC operating system available as of the date of the reassignment, and the customer must remove from the original device any desktop PC operating system upgrades that were installed under the transferred Software Assurance coverage. Customers may not otherwise separate Software Assurance coverage from the underlying license for which it is ordered.


Software Assurance MAY be transferred if the above criteria are met, and did you know you can attach Software Assurance on OEM purchases of Windows Pro (preinstalled on all the cool new devices you sell) within 90 days?  for those that like the latest and greatest from a windows client perspective I have never understood why SA attach was so low on the Windows Client OS, especially later in the product’s lifecycle.   SA and also, Windows Intune, provide you rights to Windows Enterprise which has some very attractive use cases in this world of BYOD, VDI, etc.

Consider saving your customer money with SA Attach to Windows 8 Pro OEM or buy Windows Intune!




Comments (3)

  1. U2412M says:

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I mostly agree with you most of the point I have subscribed the feed and looking forward for the followup subscriptions.

  2. U2713H says:

    Article that you had shared with us is useful for us. This article provides us information which can help us to gain knowledge about something new.

  3. Coffee In India says:

    Article that you had shared with us is useful for us. This article provides us information which can help us to gain knowledge about something new.

Skip to main content