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Volume Licensing Service Center – Differences from Retail Products

Learn about the differences between retail products and products available through the VLSC

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TechSoup - November 11, 2012
Learn about the differences between retail products and products available through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), Microsoft's website to help you get installation keys, download or order Microsoft installation software, and access other benefits.

Product List

The Volume Licensing program has a slightly different list of products than you might get through the Microsoft website or retail outlets. For example:

  • Although Windows upgrades are available through Volume Licensing, full desktop operating system licenses are not.
  • Some server applications and other applications used mainly for enterprise operations and software development are available only through Volume Licensing; there is no retail version.
  • The Volume Licensing program offers different configurations of some desktop applications, specifically Office suites.

There are several different Volume Licensing programs; donations obtained through TechSoup are in the standard Open License program. Most products in the Open License program are available through TechSoup.

Licenses Can Apply to Earlier Versions, Multiple Languages, and Product Families

Volume licenses allow installation of earlier versions of the product, any language in which it is published, and sometimes even different products within the same Microsoft family.

For example, you can request 20 copies of Windows 8 through TechSoup. When you register with the VLSC, you can download the installation software in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, or any other available language. You may, of course, only install a combined total of 20 operating systems.

For more information on how to acquire installation software, see Downloading and Installing Software.

Product Use Rights

Volume Licensing desktop products have slightly different product use rights (PUR, also called terms of use) from retail products. To view the detailed PUR for a product, use the Create a customized PUR link on Microsoft's Product Licensing page.

Sometimes the Volume Licensing products are slightly different from their retail counterparts. For example, the Windows upgrade products allow you to upgrade from business versions of Windows only and not the home versions. Check the TechSoup product descriptions for this information.

See below for an overview of product use rights for desktop software.

PUR Summary for Desktop Operating Systems

  • You must acquire a license for each device on or from which you access or use the software (locally and remotely).
  • You may install only one copy on the device.
  • You may install that copy on the host operating system or in a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.
  • You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time.
  • In Volume Licensing, the desktop operating system license is an "upgrade license." You may acquire upgrade licenses only for devices for which you have already licensed a "qualifying" operating system.

PUR Summary for Desktop Applications

  • You must request one copy from TechSoup for every main computer on which the application will be installed. This main computer becomes the "licensed device."
  • You may install and use any number of copies of the software and of any prior version of the software on the licensed device.
  • Only one user may use the copies on the licensed device at a time. You may also install a copy on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device.
  • Organizations that install the application on a network device for remote access should read the entire product use rights.