Microsoft offers a number of different software license types, with varying degrees of flexibility and versatility. It can be hard to keep track of all the different options available to you, which is why we’ve compiled this list of Windows license types — the differences between each one, and what you should use in your business.
1. Windows 10 is the newest operating system from Microsoft
Windows 10 is the newest operating system from Microsoft. It’s the successor to Windows 8, and is currently available as a free upgrade to anyone who has Windows 7 or 8. The upgrade process is different depending on your device and version of Windows you’re upgrading from, so be sure to check out Microsoft’s website for full details. While Windows 10 Home is recommended for use on traditional PCs where an older version of Windows won’t run properly, you can create a Home edition PC- any version of Windows, from 7 all the way up to Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise. Creating a converted device is the most efficient way to install a Windows license.
A traditional PC with a Windows 7 license can be turned into a Home edition PC and installed with the software required in order to run Windows 10, with no additional software or changes required on the user’s end. A Home edition PC is fully capable of running standard desktop applications from Windows 7, full-length Windows desktop applications, as well as Office software.
A traditional PC running the Windows 7 Professional combined license can run standard desktop applications (albeit with limitations). An updated version of Office (Office RT) is available for Windows 7 Professional users, but not for Windows 7 Home users. A traditional PC running Windows 8 could, however, still be converted into a Home edition PC. This requires considerable effort on the part of the user, as well as the use of third-party software, but there are benefits to doing so.
All Windows 10 devices share the same software install, and can run all currently-licensed applications with no additional downloads or changes required. Due to license compatibility issues with some applications, it might be necessary to verify each license type to ensure they are compatible, and check for updates and security patches.
Windows 10 Home offers limited flexibility in terms of customizing the Windows logo, desktop shortcuts, and the Start button.
2. The three most common license types for Windows are retail, OEM, and volume
Different versions of Windows are licensed in different ways. In Windows, you’ll usually come across three different types of license: retail, OEM, and volume. Retail versions of Windows can be purchased and installed on one computer in your name. OEM versions of Windows can only be purchased with a new computer and are pre-installed on the computer. Finally, a new license version of Windows called Windows 10 Home is limited to one computer on the business.
There is a catch, however — licensing Windows for a small business (a company with fewer than 15 employees) is different from licensing Windows for a larger, corporate organization. While smaller businesses have their own licenses, Windows for Business is licensed to Microsoft for all the devices powered by its Windows operating system — meaning, small business PCs included. But why is this the case?
For the business side of things, Microsoft operates a one-size-fits-all model for the hardware it sells to large organizations. To be fair, this single license model does provide a lot of flexibility for the business, as long as it’s paying for the license. Less about the details of OS licensing and all about what else is included, we’ll cover that in the next section…
There are other versions of Windows, of course. If you’d like to dive deeper into the differences between them, we’ve got you covered there.
So, how do you use each version of Windows?
As for the home version. You purchase one license key for each PC that you intend to use for your business and all the hardware it requires. That’s it. Once you’ve installed Windows for Business, you can remove it from those PCs.
For the OEM version: This version is normally installed on new PCs (unless your business already uses pre-installed OEM hardware). This version enables you to install one copy of Windows 10 Professional on up to 6 PCs. For more on how OEM devices work, see How are OEM devices different from retail and volume?
The volume license: This license is part of Microsoft’s MSDN subscription.
3. Retail licenses are the best choice for businesses that need to upgrade frequently
The type of license you choose can make a big difference and influence the success of your business. There are two main types of licenses – retail and wholesale. Retail licenses are the best choice for businesses that need to upgrade frequently and want to control their own inventory. Wholesale licenses, on the other hand, are better suited for businesses that sell a substantial amount of product. This is because you can be more flexible in your approach and offer your customers a comparable price, but you don’t have to worry about having enough in stock to meet customer demand.
A retail license allows you to sell a product to consumers or small businesses directly (while retaining your full control and liability). Wholesale licenses, on the other hand, sell product to retail customers and direct manufacturers (which means you still own the product, but there’s no direct relationship between the businesses you sell to and the product). To qualify for a retail or wholesale license, the product you’re selling must:
The benefit of a wholesale license is that it lets you produce quantities of a certain size, and the trade show crowd will show up at your booth to see what crazy new cool thing you have. In the end, you pay a flat fee every time you sell a certain number of units, which underpins the business model of improving each sale. This allows you to ease yourself into production, save money on capital outlays, and guard against losing a lot of money at the beginning of a run.
Although the length of the license can be a concern for larger or multifunctional businesses, there are plenty of temporary and option-based options. There are two significant issues with licenses too long, however:
The time value of money is a critical factor for determining the license length for your product. A stable business model based on recurring revenue is expected to yield the highest profits. Although ahead of the business, there is always room for improvement and iteration.
4. OEM licenses include a copy of Windows preinstalled on your new computer
Microsoft offers OEM licenses that allow you to buy a copy of Windows preinstalled on your new computer. OEM licenses tend to be cheaper than full retail licenses and they don’t include a physical disc. OEM license keys are tied to the hardware on which they’re installed, so you can’t transfer the key to a new computer. Unlike those retail licenses, which are licensed directly from the company that makes the computer, OEM licenses can be leased. They contain a key that can be freely assigned, and you don’t need to pay again if you decide to end your agreement with Microsoft. You’d need to request a new lease if you decided to stop participating in one of your OEM licenses.
Microsoft offers three different types of OEM licenses.
Microsoft introduced the first Office Professional Plus license type in 2009 as a way of allowing business users to continue using older versions of the groundbreaking document editing and office productivity software. As we’ve seen in recent years, Microsoft Office products are integrated into a number of devices, from home entertainment centers to servers. Thus, people may need one or more Office licenses in order to use these on any devices.
The operation 10 desktop license includes all the functionality of a full retail license, including Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. At that price, it’s good for people who’ll frequently use these products. However, the license also offers two additional benefits: cross-license compatibility with other versions of Microsoft’s productivity suite, and remote management.
The cross-license compatibility benefit allows software successfully downloaded from the Internet to run, into, and out of the newest version of Microsoft Office. It works for both Office and Word, but it’s a little more complicated with Outlook. You can successfully download the latest version of Outlook and it will run in the new version of Word, but if you decide to move the program to another computer, you’ll still be able to run it on a previous version of Outlook, using the same license.
5. Volume licenses are an ideal choice if you need to run different versions of Windows on multiple computers
If you are a home user who needs to run different versions of Windows on different computers within your home, then a Windows volume license is the best choice for you.
If you own or run multiple businesses, and your business computers need to run different versions of Windows (or have different processor types), then you may need to purchase a Windows tower license.
Here are the different license types in detail:
1. Desktop licensing
The easiest and most flexible type of license to get your hands on, this option basically allows you to open up a PC and use it as the operating system for the entire family of machines you have.
The main lover this type of license, in our experience, is the home consumer, for whom it just seems the most sensible and straightforward license to choose. There are no hidden sides or additional fees. It’s really quite a simple option to manage, since all you have to do is purchase a Windows PC, connect it to your internet provider’s network via a cable, and voila’ — you have a license that can be tailored just to your personal needs..
2. Windows Home or Windows Professional
Adding Business/Server to this option can really have a significant benefit for the home person who manages an entire business or is working in-house for a number of clients.
This license is what most home organizations use because without it, it’s going to be very hard for them to keep their desktop computers moving smoothly, since they won’t be able to switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 without experiencing some severe performance or stability difficulties. The power of Windows 8.1 and, to a lesser extent, Windows 8 for ARM, allows you to accomplish some great mobile and touch device and tablet friendly operations.