After 1,240,000,000 hours of testing, Windows 8 was unveiled at the end of October. The new Windows 8 interface is about "going live" and being able to interact fully with any device – whether an "old school" PC, a touch PC or any of what looks like will evolve into a significant number of new tablet choices.
More than 1,000 PCs have been certified for Windows 8 use as of the day of the launch. We will see light, thin and fast laptops at $300 price points and we'll see higher end Ultrabooks – complete with touchscreens. Windows 8 ushers in an entire new generation of touchscreen-based all-in-one PCs, in addition to smartphones and the Surface tablet.
In the broadest terms, a license agreement is a contract between you and Microsoft (News - Alert) Corporation (if you purchased the software and installed it yourself) or between you and the computer manufacturer or software installer that purchased Windows 8 from Microsoft and then installed it on a computer you purchased. The agreement describes your rights to use the Windows 8 software and any Windows apps that are included with Windows 8.
A recent blog post by Flexera Software, a provider of application usage management and software licensing solutions, explained the process of Microsoft Windows 8 licensing.
Microsoft Windows 8 is available in four editions: Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8 Pro and Windows Enterprise. Windows 8 is the consumer version and available through the retail and OEM channels.
Windows RT (RT stands for RunTime) is dedicated to ARM (News - Alert)-based devices such as tablets and is not directly sold to customers, but rather, is always distributed through OEM. The Surface tablet with Windows RT comes pre-installed with Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview. Surface with Windows RT is designed to run apps from the Windows Store, so you know you’re finding trusted applications that help you see more, share more, and do more.
Image via Microsoft
The Windows 8 Pro edition is for small to medium sized businesses. It is comparable to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate and can be purchased from any channel: retail, OEM or volume licensing. The basic terms of the license agreement are identical between Windows 8 (the base version) and Windows 8 Pro. ZDNet took a comprehensive look at the new license terms for Windows 8 and found only three substantive differences: Restrictions for Client Hyper-V (a Pro-only feature) are in the Pro agreement and not in the base version. You can run Windows 8 Pro on a PC with two physical processors; Windows 8 is limited to a single CPU (although the number of cores is unlimited). And Windows 8 Pro supports Remote Desktop as a client and server, whereas Windows 8 is a Remote Desktop client only.
The Enterprise edition is for large organizations purchasing licenses in bulk. Windows 8 Enterprise features include all the capabilities that customers get with Windows 8 Pro plus premium features designed to provide the mobile productivity, security, manageability and virtualization needs of today’s businesses. It is only available as a benefit of Software Assurance and cannot be purchased outside of this scenario.
To install and use the Windows 8 Enterprise edition, an organization must own a Windows 8 Pro license and assign Software Assurance (SA) to it. Once the Enterprise edition has been deployed, the right to use it is perpetual on the device. As soon as SA has expired, the Windows 8 Enterprise edition software cannot be moved to another device. If the Enterprise Edition was not installed prior to the expiration of SA, then it cannot be deployed on the device.
Licenses for Microsoft Windows 8 can be acquired in multiple ways: through retail (Full Package Product or FPP), OEM or Volume Licensing, but it is also available from Windows Intune and Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscriptions. In addition, Windows 8 is available via MSDN for developers, and TechNet for IT Professionals through a subscription to those programs. Intune is a monthly subscription-based license for small to medium size organizations that provides a cloud service for PC security and management. As part of the subscription, Windows 8 Enterprise edition licenses are included and carry product use rights that are similar to what are provide under SA. Among these rights, the upgrade rights provide access to the latest version of the Windows software product.
Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription licenses provide access to virtual Operating System Environments (OSE) from devices that do not qualify for SA, such as thin clients. It also enables enterprise users who are not the primary user of a device covered by Software Assurance to access virtual OSEs. For instance, a user working from home who has not be allocated a corporate device covered by SA, needs a VDA license to access virtual machines in the organization’s datacenter using his/her home computer (using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology). VDA does not provide local installation rights.
The Windows 8 licensing options are straightforward and promote the procurement of Software Assurance within organizations: specific features and product use rights are only available with the Enterprise edition. If managing Windows 8 licenses seems easy on the surface, the product use rights attached to a license with SA, Intune or VDA, are complex and make the license compliance position difficult to calculate.
Flexera Software's FlexNet Licensing (composed of FlexNet Publisher and FlexNet Embedded) makes it easy for application producers to monetize, secure, enhance and grow market share through the flexible pricing, packaging, and licensing of applications, intelligent devices or equipment using embedded software. FlexNet Licensing also gives organizations the power to protect IP and rein in unauthorized software use to prevent revenue loss.