Originally posted by Logik!
Definitive guide Microsoft Licensing
The definitive guide to the licensing of Microsoft products can be found here: Microsoft Licensing Site
Here's an overview of the Windows licensing options available today:
Individual OS License Programs
NFR or NFD License
Volume OS License Programs
All individually licensed versions of Windows XP and Office XP (including Retail) require Product Activation
There are two retail licenses: Full Retail and Upgrade Retail
Both versions can be used to create a clean install, although the Upgrade version will check for the existence of a previous, qualifying OS (either on disk or via CD). When you use an upgrade license, you are not free to sell or otherwise transfer the qualifying upgrade product to anyone else. An upgrade license does not represent a separate product
-- it is a continuation of the previous license.
Outside of the upgrade scenario, a Retail License is transferrable to a separate machine, quite unlike the OEM License. To transfer an Upgrade Retail License, you'd have to also transfer all of the qualifying OS products tied to that license.
Example: If you were to license a copy of Windows 95, and then purchased an upgrade license to Windows 98, and later purchased an upgrade license to Windows 2000, you could not transfer any of those licenses without transfering them all at once, and as a single entity (at which time you would no longer qualify for an upgrade license to XP or 2003).
All individually licensed versions of Windows XP and Office XP (including OEM) require Product Activation
An OEM license is a lower cost license that can be obtained when the OS is purchased in conjunction with some hardware. Typically qualifying hardware are hard drives, CPUs, motherboards and video cards.
OEM licenses come with no phone support (the web is always an option) and can only be used for clean installations (not upgrades). Furthermore, OEM licenses are bound to the hardware they were purchased with, and cannot be transferred or resold
All individually licensed versions of Windows XP and Office XP (including MSDN) require Product Activation
There are several MSDN licenses available, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. This product is aimed at the development community and provides access to SDKs (software development kits) as well as multiple licenses of desktop and server OSes, plus other backoffice tools (e.g. Exchange, SQL Server). Although multiple licenses are involved, it is still considered an individual license product as all of the licenses must be used by one individual, and cannot be used in a production environment. The product comes with support, but only for development environments.
Additionally, the server products have hard-limits of 10 inbound user connections, making them thoroughly unsuitable for most production environments.
MSDN Licenses can be obtained here and are perpetual. If you choose not to renew the license, you are still entitled to use the software that was obtained during the subscription period, but you will not have access to any new software or the MSDN Subscription area of the MSDN website
NFR and NFD Licenses
All individually licensed versions of Windows XP and Office XP (including NFR and NFD) require Product Activation
NFR = Not For Resale
NFD = Not For Distribution
These products are usually provided free or through contests, seminars, promotions, etc., but it can apply to software which has been purchased, such as with MSDN licenses.
A NFR product cannot be resold, although it may be given away if is has not been installed and contains all licensing and original packaging.
A NFD product cannot be given away or sold. If you have no use for it, then its next home will be in a garbage can somewhere.
Be advised that certain subscription-based licenses must be renewed or removed at the end of their terms. The ActionPack license
operates in this fashion, whereas the MSDN license (seen above) is perpetual.
All individually licensed versions of Windows XP and Office XP (including individually licensed Academic editions) require Product Activation
Academic licenses are different from the other licenses in that their only distinction is licensing, not physical product. You can purchase Academic licenses of both Retail and MSDN products, and you can purchase Academic Licenses under a volume license -- unlike the Retail and MSDN products.
Academic licenses are intended to be used in an educational environment or by those attending educational institutions, and is only valid for the time that one qualifies to be a member of the educational facility in question. It can be upgraded to a higher license at any time, and is not different in any physical way from any retail or volume licensed product.
All versions of Windows XP and Office XP licensed under a Volume License program (including volume licenses of Academic editions) are exempt from Product Activation
. These are commonly referred to as Corporate Edition.
Volume licenses allow qualified corporations, schools, small businesses, and other organizations to obtain OS (and other product) licenses at a discount, and with easier tools to manage and deploy the licenses. Additionally, there is no requirement for individual activation, as with the individual licenses, although there is still a corporate/enterprise level activation that occurs as part of the online license management.
A new volume licensing option for small businesses will be introduced in Feb 2003 (in addition to the existing volume licensing options).
Here are some documents outlining the in-place upgrade path available to Windows 2000
and Windows XP
. Even if your current version of Windows does not qualify for an in-place upgrade to 2000 or XP, you may be able to purchase an upgrade license and perform a clean install.
The details for Windows 2003 (to be released April 24th) have not yet been finalized, but it is expected to allow upgrades from NT4. (Whether you'd want to perform an in-place upgrade from NT4 is a different question entirely.)
There some licensing changes associated with Windows 2003
, but they primarily relate to Terminal Services.