Guide to Microsoft Software Licensing

Microsoft Volume Licensing

 It is a fair assumption that any business which has multiple employees using computers will be reliant on Microsoft software and their online services.  After all, products such as Office and Windows Server is the software of choice for most businesses and organisations in the UK.  But software costs can of course rapidly escalate especially for large employers and expanding businesses.  With Microsoft Volume Licensing (MVL), these costs can not only be reduced, they can also be spread over a number of payments if required.

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What is Microsoft Volume Licensing (MVL)

Microsoft Volume Licensing is a service offered by Microsoft for businesses and organizations that require multiple licenses, but do not need the duplicate software, packaging and documentation sent with a traditional ‘full packaged product’. MVL, from Microsoft’s OS Vista onwards, are controlled and activated via activation keys or key management server keys.

Why is MVL cheaper than buying boxed software?

Buying multiple licences, rather than copies of software, reduces overhead as the cost of the physical components is removed.  For those plans with Software Assurance the licences are automatically updated when new versions of the software are released.  For any business this is a win-win situation.  Not only will they benefit from significant savings compared to the boxed retail versions but their staff will always have access to the very latest software.


There are several different strands to MVL depending on business type and sector including:

Open Licensing

A pay as you go solution ideal for small and medium businesses, organisations, and charities looking for a cost-effective way to obtain the latest Microsoft products for five or more devices.  Valid over a period of two years these licences are down-gradable but come with full Software Assurance support.

Open Value Subscription

This option features the lowest upfront costs.  Payments can also be reduced should the number of PCs decline during the life of the contract.  This flexibility makes an Open Value Subscription an attractive solution for businesses.  Open programmes are also available for educational, health, and non-profit organisations.  Includes Software Assurance.

Enterprise Licensing

For organisations and corporations with more than 250 devices or users.  A tiered pricing structure reduces the cost of licences exponentially.  Software Assurance benefits are included and costs can be spread over three annual payments.  Furthermore short-term outlay can be reduced and annual costs varied through the subscription option.

Specialist Organisations

Microsoft offer volume licensing programmes for all organisations including government, health, education, and non-profit.  Programmes include subscription options over a period of years or perpetual licences in which the rights to use the software are retained once the licensing agreement ends.

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 What is Software Assurance?

Included with many Microsoft Volume Licensing products Software Assurance provides flexible licensing rights, including home downloads for staff, software updates, as well as access to online training.  Around the clock technical support and the services of planning consultants are also available during the licensing period.

Software Assurance is available on a number of Microsoft products including Office, Windows, System Centre and SQL Server amongst others.

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