Microsoft’s volume licensing for Windows 10 is clear as mud. And if you don’t fully understand it you could find your company out of compliance.
If you’re planning on implementing a solution to reimage your computer with a tool like MDT, Symantec Ghost, SmartDeploy, or even FOG, your company will need to gain special reimaging rights from Microsoft. If you don’t you could find yourself getting out of compliance with how you distribute Windows to your endpoint devices.
While this may seem like another annoying jump through and another hit to your IT budget, the process is pretty straightforward. In short, there are two main things Microsoft wants you to know about volume licensing.
1. You don’t need to repurchase Windows
Let’s say you just ordered one hundred new laptops and they all came pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro. That’s great. Now, if you’d like to reimage those 100 laptops with your corporate image then you’re going to need a Microsoft volume licensing agreement.
To get started, with a Microsoft volume licensing agreement, the minimum number of licenses to purchase is five, but only one of those would need to be a Windows 10 Pro volume license upgrade. So, while you’d need to purchase five licenses, which is a couple hundred dollars or so, it beats needing to purchase 100 new Windows licenses, as long as you plan on reimaging those one hundred laptops with the same version, edition, and language of Windows.
2. You only need one key
The second is that volume licensing will make tracking easier on you. You’ll have a single volume license key to use for all your machines, even if you’re using different original equipment manufacturers (OEM).
Now on the topic of OEMs, as a pro tip, order your new systems with the version of Windows you intend to deploy in use. If you don’t already have an agreement you don’t want to be ordering systems with Windows 10 Home to bring the cost down, when you really want Pro or Enterprise. It’ll just end up costing way more in the long run.
For specifics on upgrade and downgrade rights, make sure to check out the Microsoft documentation, especially when upgrading from Windows 10 Home.
Some upgrade paths for Windows 10 Home aren’t even available as part of the 5-license option, so you’ll have to license via the retail upgrade or upgrade via the Microsoft Store to get on the version of Windows 10. For additional information, check out Chris Le Texier’s post on Spiceworks.
We hope this clears some things up and helps with making the switch the volume licensing so you can get started implementing your image solution. Just work with your favorite reseller to get your volume license agreement and you’ll be good to go!