Microsoft Reader Mailbag: Three Questions on Licensing Windows and Office

A Microsoft Volume Licensing Expert Answers your Burning Questions on Licensing Windows and Office.

From time to time we ask UK-based licensing consultant and trainer, Louise Ulrick, to answer frequently asked questions on licensing. Here, she’s provided context for three scenarios on how to license Windows and Office to accommodate a changing business. Whether it’s renewing your current agreement to incorporate Remote Desktop Services or deploying Windows To Go technologies, Louise takes a deeper dive to help you understand and get the most of your Microsoft licensing.   

Today there are more options than ever before for businesses to deliver Windows and Office to their users. In this post we take a look at three different scenarios and consider how the licensing of Windows and Office changes for each situation.

Q: We’re a small business (about 50 users) and we want to upgrade our users to Office 2013, and have decided to deliver it through Remote Desktop Services to their office-based PCs. We have two questions really: does it matter whether we acquire the Office licenses through a Volume Licensing program or through OEM/FPP, and how would we also license these users to access Office from their home devices?

Louise: This is a good question since there are different use rights for the various channels. Typically, most rights are available when licenses are purchased through a Volume Licensing program. In your case this is particularly relevant, since the rights to install Office on a server and have users access it through Remote Desktop Services are only available when you’ve purchased the Office licenses through a Volume Licensing agreement. You’re probably aware that Office licenses are device licenses, so every device that accesses Office needs to have a license assigned to it. This means that all of your office-based PCs will need to be licensed with Office and so I’d recommend that you acquire the licenses through an Open Value Company Wide agreement.

Purchasing the licenses in this way gives you another benefit too – Software Assurance (SA). There are (as you’ll know!) lots of different SA benefits, but one in particular is going to enable the second part of your scenario. Normally, if you wanted users to be able to access Office from their home devices, you’d have to assign a further Office license to those devices. However, SA with Office gives you Roaming Use Rights and that means that your users will be covered to access
Office from any home device with no further licensing requirements.

Q: We are about to renew our Enterprise Agreement which currently covers Windows, Office and the Core CAL. However, we will be completely changing the way that we deliver corporate desktops to our users, aiming to use the Windows To Go technology via USB drives. We want to deploy a Windows 8 Enterprise desktop with Office Professional Plus 2013, and need to license our users to use their personal USB drive on any corporate device while they’re on
our premises, and on ANY other device when they’re not. We’re aware that this is very different to our traditional local deployments and we want to make sure that we get the licensing right.

Louise: It’s all good news: you should absolutely renew your agreement for this new scenario that you want to enable. Let me explain why! As you know, licensing Windows and Office through an EA requires you to count up all your Qualified Devices and purchase Windows Upgrade and Office licenses with SA for all of those devices. This is really important for you since it’s the SA on Windows that gives you some additional rights that you’ll need: the rights to deploy Windows 8 Enterprise edition which you mentioned, and the rights to deploy Windows in a Windows To Go environment. If you want to install Office in that environment then you need to have purchased it through a Volume Licensing agreement –which you will have done through the EA. Now, because the whole PC estate is licensed, all of the users in your organization can take their personal USB drives and use them with any of your corporate devices with no additional licensing requirements.

The second part of your question relates to their use of the USB drives at home and again it’s the SA that’s important. SA on the Windows and Office licenses gives you Roaming Use Rights and that means that your users are already licensed to take their USB drives and use them on any device at all outside of the office. So, it sounds like it’s a complicated new scenario for deploying Windows and Office but renewing your existing Enterprise Agreement will absolutely license you for your new deployment strategy.

Q: We have an Enterprise Agreement for our 500 users and have chosen to move to the Cloud, so our users are covered with 500 Office 365 Plan E3 USLs and 500 user-based Core CAL Bridges for Office 365. In addition, the 500 corporate-owned devices that they use are licensed with Windows Upgrade licenses. We’re now interested in virtualizing Windows desktops (with Office) through a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and we need to be sure that all users are licensed on corporate-owned devices in the office, and on up to two personal devices that they may choose to bring into the office. Can you advise how we would best license this?

Louise: An Enterprise Agreement is typically the best way to license your Windows and Office desktops to enable the widest array of licensing scenarios and your situation is no exception. In fact, your existing EA already covers you for the first part of your question; the SA on your Windows licenses allows you to choose to deploy Windows desktops in a VDI environment, and because all of your desktops are licensed, any user can receive their desktop to any device. Similarly, purchasing Office 365 ProPlus through an EA allows you a choice of deployment options, and a VDI desktop is absolutely covered.

Let’s now look at the devices that your users will be bringing in to the office. These devices will be accessing both Windows and Office and thus need to be licensed for both products in some way. Considering the Windows component first, it’s the Windows SA on the user’s main desktop that gives you the rights to purchase a special license to cover the personally owned devices. This license is the Companion Subscription License (CSL) and it’s assigned to the main Windows-licensed device, but allows the primary user of that device to receive a VDI desktop on up to four of their own devices while in the office. Licensing the Office component is actually much simpler since the use rights of the Office 365 ProPlus license allow the primary user to install Office on up to 5 devices. If your users are bringing 2 devices from home which will be used to access Office, then you should reserve two of these installation rights for these devices.

Have a follow-up question on licensing Office or Windows? Write us a note in the comments below or visit the Microsoft licensing Office or Windows page. Also, make sure to catch up on past editions of Louise’s Mailbag series here. Need additional assistance? Visit the Contact Us page for additional support or check out the TechNet Forums for more insight.

Feedback welcome: This is our sixth edition of the “mailbag” feature and we would love your input. Do you have suggestions to make this more useful for you? Perhaps you have a question you would like to see in a future mailbag? Feel free to provide them in the comments section.

Editor’s Note: Remember, always check with your account representative or partner on any terms, restrictions or other unique cases that may apply within Office and Windows licensing. The answers and examples provided above make assumptions that may not apply to your unique situation and are primarily designed to serve as a guide.


Comments (4)

  1. JTC99 says:

    We are currently rolling out approximately 6500 workstations as part of our Windows 7 upgrade project. My question has to do with the MS COA stickers on the Dell systems. Should we be recording or photographing that sticker for future reference and cross-reference that back to the system’s serial number? Over the years the stickers disappear, fade or get pretty scratched up. We are using our volume license key to roll the desktops out, but need to know if we always have to show proof of the COA or is the Dell purchase agreement enough?

  2. Hello Louise

    Question 5 in FAQ of Qualified Devices VL Brief says:

    5. Do devices that are covered by the Windows Companion Subscription License (CSL) need to be included in the Qualified Device count?

    Yes. The CSL covers the Windows portion of the commitment for those devices. You still need to include those devices for any other product or service commitment under the EA.

    Does this mean that the EA qualified devices count must include the personally owned devices that access a VDI infrastructure as well for let´s say Office Licensing?

    If so, if a user has several personal devices, does each one need to be included in the total?


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hungry for more information from Microsoft on Software Assurance , licensing for virtual environments , Software Asset Management , or Volume Licensing updates? We’ve rounded up 2013’s five most viewed Microsoft Volume Licensing blog posts

  4. Emily Dicson says:

    For any version of windows 7 or 8, Many Companies sell license to activate your operating system license. I was searching last month to activate windows 7 ultimate at my personal notebook, then I come to know, I need a product key to get license activation.
    I found an online Store, Now I can buy any product activation license with its label at:">ODosta Store

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