System Center 2012 Licensing Overview

I thought I would cover a little bit of info on the recent System Center licensing changes, as you all know, simplifying and demystifying licensing is a big part of our changes so expect to see more connection between the product changes and product licensing as we move towards easier ways for customers to buy and get cloud ready ūüôā

System Center have continued licensing simplification with the reduction of their multi SKU line-up, providing 2 clear editions aligned to hybrid cloud management.  Let’s look at some key product and licensing changes with the availability of SC 2012.

What are the key SC 2012 Server Management licensing changes?

  • Reduced SKU line-Up to 2 editions, DC and STD 2012
  • Both editions contain the same capabilities/workloads, only difference is the number of Operating System Environments (OSEs) that you can manage per license.
  • Licenses are only required for managed ‚Äúendpoints‚ÄĚ, no additional licenses are needed for management server software or the ‚ÄėSQL Server Technology‚Äô
  • Licensing model is Processor-based, where each license covers up to 2 Processors
  • Standalone Components are available as part of the integrated DC and STD licenses and are not available to be sold separately*

*See caveat under SC SKU Availability

How many Server MLs will you need to buy?

  • Server MLs are required for managed devices that run server OSEs.
  • Licenses are processor-based, with each license covering up to two physical processors.

For Datacenter Edition: The number of Server MLs required for each managed server is determined by the number of physical processors in the server.

For Standard Edition: The number of Server MLs required is either number of physical processors in the server or number of OSEs being managed (whichever is greater).

Examples:                                                                       DC Server MLs Req STD Server MLs Req
One 1-processor, non-virtualized server



One 4-processor, non-virtualized server



One 2-processor server with 3 virtual OSEs



One 4-processor server with 8 virtual OSEs



**An exception to this rule is when the physical OSE on your server is being used solely to run hardware virtualization software, provide hardware virtualization services, and run software to manage and service OSEs on that device.

In that case, you only count the number of virtual OSEs you will manage on the server, divide that number by two, and round up to the nearest whole number.

What is the SC SKU availability in Volume Licensing?

On Feb 1st 2012 L&SA offerings for existing pre 2012 versions of individual Server MLs and individual product management Server licenses were removed from the volume licensing pricelist.

After SC 2012 General Availability customers can still purchase licenses for previous versions of System Center Products, only as shown in the table below

















What are the SC SA Migration Paths?

Customers with SC and active SA at time of general availability, will be entitled to the migration paths below, all extended detail can be found outlined in the April Product List, couple of things to point out as I have had a few conversations with folks to bring some extra clarity…..see takeaways below

* System Center 2012 Datacenter covers up to 2 processors per license whereas SMSD only covers 1 processor per license.


  • SA is built into the SC 2012 MLs, L&SA Only
  • SC 2012 has 2 offerings, separated by virtualization rights only, STDand DC
  • SC 2012 Datacenter covers up to 2 processors per license whereas SMSD only covered 1 processor per license.
  • Server MLs may not be split across multiple 1-Proc servers
  • SQL Server Technology is no longer a separate offering, a runtime version is in both SC 2012 STDand DC editions
  • License stacking is permitted for SC 2012 STD Edition to increase number of OSEs being managed, be aware of breakeven, its approx. 2.5 Virtual OSEs per processor.
  • Step-Up from SC 2012 STD to SC 2012 DC is permitted
  • Server MLs can manage applications running on a public cloud infrastructure through License Mobility for SA

System Center 2012 licensing for client management has been updated as well.

For more information on both server and client management licensing changes, there is a great Licensing FAQ posted HERE for Partner and HERE for Customers


SQL Server 2012 – Pricing and Licensing Quick Look

Well, Thursday saw the official announce of the SQL Server 2012 Edition line-Up and Pricing/Licensing Changes, and even though I am “technically” on holiday ūüôā ….it‚Äôs definitely worth covering the key changes to whet the appetite, see below, very quick overview………more info on

For a more comprehensive look at Pricing/Licensing we are running¬†PARTNER global Webast Series on SQL Server 2012‚Äď REGISTER your spot, begins on 7th Nov through to 18th Nov, 3 Topics over 4 TimeZones, with an opportunity to ask your questions directly to us……

SQL Server 2012 – Things to note:

We are simplifying the SKU Lineup

3 main SKUs – Standard, Business Intelligence (New, see below)¬†and Enterprise = ‚ÄúPrincipal‚ÄĚ SKU,

We still maintain the specialized and breadth SKUs (Express, Developer, Appliances, etc) 











Licensing Models offered

  • Std offered in Server/CAL mode AND Per Core
  • BI only Server/CAL
  • EE only Per Core

New SKU – SQL Server 2012 BI Edition

Data Management and Analytics










SQL Server is moving from Proc to Cores






SQL EE in Server mode is retiring

  • EE Server Licenses available until June 30th, 2012
  • EA/EAP customers can purchase EE Servers through the end of term
  • SQL Server 2012 EE Server licenses will have 20 core per server limit

SQL CAL Price Increase
Approx 27% dependent on VL agreement level

Next time…………SQL Server SA Migration and Virtualisation……….

Windows OS – OEM Reimaging Rights – Licensing and Techie Update

I thought it would be good to post this exchange on OEM Licensing as we have made some changes to the rules for our partners and also its a very common question that we get through the call centres, I have tried to give the complete picture, licensing and technology as they are so synergised these days its good to see the full story –

Let me start with what you can do with a Windows OEM License:
‚ÄĘ You can work with an OEM to create an Custom Factory Image (CFI): the OEM can create an Image from their OEM toolkit and then use their Software Factory Integration service to install onto all your PCs at their factory prior to delivery. This type of reimaging service is available on most OEM business PCs and/or royalty OEMs ‚Äď e.g. PCs installed with Windows 7 Professional.
‚ÄĘ This can be done without any need for a Volume License for Windows.

If you also have a Volume License, there is more flexibility:
‚ÄĘ The Volume License for Windows is an Upgrade License ‚Äď for use on top of the OEM License (usually Windows Professional pre-installed).
‚ÄĘ With a VL Windows License you can customize the image yourself or ask the OEM to customize to your specification. The OEM still supplies you with a PC that has the underlying OEM License attached to the PC (this is shown by the ‚ÄúCertificate of Authenticity‚ÄĚ (COA) label on the back of a desktop PC or bottom of a laptop.
‚ÄĘ Customers can take advantage of customizing Windows Enterprise Edition if they have Software Assurance ‚Äď which offers more features than Windows Professional (such as disk drive encryption ‚Äď BitLocker).
‚ÄĘ Reimaging rights are granted to all Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) customers as part of the license agreement(s), customers may reimage OEM Operating systems by using the media provided under their VL agreement, such as EA or Select Plus/Select.

You can reimage an OEM Operating system with VL bits as long as you meet the criteria set out in the brief attached ‚Äď posted – HERE

Note that there are no reimaging rights for OEM Office unless there is Software Assurance on the PC.

In addition you can find good  Windows product licensing information on this section of

Plus there is also a VL Brief regarding Windows re-imaging rights HERE, and a detailed technical/licensing whitepaper on the points above on HERE

Product High-Light – Windows Desktop OS- What is a Qualified Base license in Volume Licensing ‚Äď UPDATED for Windows 7


The desktop operating system licenses bought under any Volume Licensing Program are upgrade licenses only.

Full desktop operating system licenses are not available under any of these programs. Therefore, each desktop for which you acquire and on which you will run the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade must be licensed to run one of the qualifying operating systems identified below.

Windows 7 Professional Upgrade

Customers who wish to acquire the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade license must first have licensed and installed on their desktop a qualifying operating system.

Qualifying OS Rules (Each of these conditions must be met in order for the base OS to qualify you for the VL Upgrade.):

  • The qualifying OS must be installed on the device to which the VL Upgrade license is to be assigned.
  • Except as provided below, you must remove the qualifying Operating System from the device in order to deploy the VL Upgrade license.

Customers who wish to install or run more than one licensed OS at one time (including the qualifying OS), may either:

  • Acquire Software Assurance for their VL Upgrade license
  • or
  • Purchase full Windows 7 licenses separately via another channel

Note: Customers that have active Software Assurance coverage do not need to uninstall the qualifying OS and may install and run the qualifying OS and Windows 7 at the same time.

The choice of Qualified Base license depends on:

  1. The Agreement type and version
  2. If its a new or existing Agreement

Any operating system not listed above is not a qualifying OS, for example:

  • Embedded Systems (e.g. Windows 9.x for embedded, Windows XP embedded) do not qualify for the Windows 7 Professional Upgrades
  • Linux or OS/2 do not qualify for the Windows 7 Professional Upgrades.
  • Windows Terminal Services Client Access License does not qualify for the Windows 7 Professional Upgrades

‚ÄúDowngrade‚ÄĚ right for Windows 7 Professional licenses
Volume licensing customers with a license for Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business are eligible to use a prior version in place of the version they have licensed. Eligible Prior versions of Vista Business include Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT Workstation 4.0 or 3.51. Eligible prior versions of Windows Vista Business include Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT Workstation 4.0 or 3.51.

Note: Customers who are licensed to use Windows 7 Enterprise may use Windows Vista Enterprise in place of the version they have licensed.

Note: Microsoft has extended the above downgrade rights under Windows 7 Professional Upgrade to allow you to downgrade to Windows 98 or Windows 95.

Note: Windows Millennium and Windows XP Home Edition are not prior versions of Windows 7 Professional.


Windows 7 Professional Promotion

As a limited time offer from September 1, 2009 through February 28, 2010, Open License, Open Value, Select and Select Plus customers are eligible to acquire Windows 7 Professional Upgrade licenses and Upgrade licenses with Software Assurance at potential savings, up to 15%

This offer applies only to Commercial and Government customers. In the Open Value program, this offer only applies to Additional Product purchases, contact your local reseller on promotions

Adding Software Assurance to Fully Packaged Product and OEM Purchases


I have received this question about 4 times over the last few weeks, so thought I better provide a little clarity

General rules for adding SA to FPP, the product must be the latest version AND you have 90days from product purchase*

FPP Applications  No

FPP Servers       Yes

FPP Systems      Yes

FPP Office is not eligible for SA, there is a retail VUP <Version upgrade> to take you to Office 200x


General rules for adding SA to OEM, the product must be the latest version AND you have 90days from product purchase*

OEM Applications  Yes

OEM Servers       Yes

OEM Systems      Yes

Note: These are general rules, we do, on occasion, run promo’s which could extend the grace period past 90days, always check with your reseller on this

*This detail is in the Product List as below


Full Packaged Products <FPP>



Application pool


SA available only as outlined below

Applies to Open License, Select, Select Plus and non Company-wide under Open Value and Additional Products under Enterprise Agreements. It does not apply to Enterprise Products under Open Value and Enterprise Agreements

Systems pool

SA available

SA available

Server Pool

SA available

SA available

  • Customers may have the option to acquire Software Assurance for certain licenses purchased from the Retail channel (full packaged product) or from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Eligibility varies by program, product pool and the license source.¬†
  • In all cases, only licenses for the latest version of a product are eligible, and the Software Assurance must be acquired ‚Äúwithin 90 days‚ÄĚ from the date the licenses are acquired.¬†
  • Under Open Value, this option applies only to non Company-wide products.¬† Under Enterprise Agreements, it applies only to Additional Products ‚Äúwithin 90 days‚ÄĚ.¬†

Notes: Office MUI is now an SA benefit, so adding SA to OEM Office licenses gives you the right to Office MUI

Notes: Windows MUI is now an SA benefit, so additng SA to OEM Windows or FPP Windows licenses gives you the right to Office MUI


NEXT TIME……………………..Announcement on licensing changes to Windows 2008 OS and Windows CALs in a Virtualisation environment…………

Activation for Volume Licensing Products – KMS and MAK


All editions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 now require activation. As part of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative, Volume Activation (VA) 2.0 is a set of technical and policy-related solutions provided by Microsoft’s Software Protection Platform.

The new method of activation designed for volume license customers

VA 2.0 is a configurable solution that helps IT professionals automate and manage the product activation process of Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 systems licensed under volume licensing,

VA 2.0 helps manage and increase the protection of volume license keys in both managed and unmanaged environments. It also helps to optimize the deployment infrastructure through flexible deployment options that require no action or involvement from end users.

VA 2.0 eliminates the use of product keys at the time of software installation and enables better protection and management of customer-specific product keys through new and enhanced activation management tools.

Volume Activation 2.0 Options

There are two types of customer-specific keys, namely Multiple Activation Key (MAK) and Key Management Service (KMS) Key for each license enrollment the customer has under their volume licensing agreement, I touched on this in a previous blog on Server OS

  • The Key Management Service (KMS) key is used to establish a local activation service (the Key Management Service or KMS) that is hosted locally in the customer‚Äôs environment, managed by the customer/IT department
  • The Multiple Activation Key (MAK) is used for one-time activation with Microsoft‚Äôs hosted activation services. Each MAK key has a predetermined number of allowed activations dependent upon the volume license agreement that the customer has. Each MAK activation with Microsoft‚Äôs hosted activation service counts towards the predetermined activation limit.

Did you know: Customers can use any combination activation methods to activate machines in their environment, depending on the needs of their organization and network infrastructure.

Did you know: We have a team that can increase your MAK activations, just mail them on with the info on why they need increased

Volume Activation 2.0 Documentation

Comprehensive information covering Planning, Deployment and Operations of VA 2.0 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 is available at:

Notes on WGA

Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA):

  • Rewards customers for validating their software as genuine, by giving them exclusive benefits.
  • Is necessary for customers to receive services from the Windows Update site and certain downloads from the Microsoft Download Center.
  • Requires a brief online process to validate Windows Vista software as genuine.

For more information, see

Product High-Light – Office 2007 – Licensing rules you probably didn’t know!


Licensing rules are dependant upon the CHANNEL purchased, so OEM/FPP and VL Office have different licensing rules, as below:

Office Installation and Use Rights РVolume Licensing  

  • You may install and use any number of copies of the software and of any prior version of the software on the licensed device.
  • You may install a copy on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device.
  • You may also install additional copies on a network device. You may only use those copies as described in the Remote Access section in the PUR.
  • You may reassign a license, but not on a short-term basis (i.e., not within 90 days of the last assignment). If you reassign a license, the device to which you reassign the license becomes the new licensed device for that license.
  • Office in Volume Licensing is a FULL License, not upgrade
Office Installation and Use Rights – OEM
  • You may install and use one copy of the software on the licensed device
  • You do not have any downgrade, transfer* or re-assignment rights unless Software Assurance is attached within 90days of OEM purchase
  • You cannot use OEM Office on a Terminal Server
  • You do not have Portable Use Rights with OEM Office
  • Office in OEM is a FULL License, not upgrade
Office Installation and Use Rights – FPP
  • You may install and use one copy of the software on the licensed device
  • You have Portable Use Rights with FPP Office
  • You generally do not have any downgrade rights
  • You have re-assignment and transfer rights
  • You cannot use FPP Office 2007¬†to install¬†or access a¬†Terminal Server, exception is Office Ultimate 2007, Office 2003 CAN be used¬†to access a¬†TS Server
  • Office in FPP is a FULL License, there is also an upgrade option
  • Software Assurance cannot be purchased for Office FPP

* OEM Office can be transferred with the complete PC, not separately

Did you know – Office 2007 Student and Home provides the right to install Office on up to 3 separate devices within the home, this should not be used for commercial business, its totally non-commercial offering

Benefits of having Software Assurance on Office include the Home Use Program, below is an extract from the Product list on HUP, how it is managed, who is responsible, the entitlement of the program


Office – Home Use Program

Customers with active Software Assurance coverage for qualifying desktop applications products are eligible to participate in the Home Use Program**. Under the Home Use Program, customers’ employees, who are users of the licensed qualifying applications, may acquire a single license for the corresponding Home Use Program software, to be installed on one home computer. See the table or the individual product sections below to ascertain the desktop applications that qualify customers for participation in the Home Use Program. The desktop applications that are available in the Home Use Program are also identified in the table below*.

Customers’ eligibility to participate in the Home Use Program ends with the expiration or termination of Software Assurance coverage on qualifying desktop applications.

The number of Home Use Program licenses that may be acquired for any given desktop application is limited to the number of licenses for the corresponding qualifying desktop application(s) for which the customer acquires Software Assurance. Under the Home Use Program, an employee’s usage rights are tied to continued employment with the Customer, and end with termination of employment, termination or expiration of Software Assurance coverage for the copy of the corresponding desktop application that employee uses at work, the employee is no longer a user of the licensed copy of the software, or upon the employee’s installation and use of any prior or later version of that desktop application pursuant to a Home Use Program license.

Customers are not responsible for their individual employee’s compliance with the Home Use Program end user license terms. Those terms are between Microsoft and the customer’s employee. We do require that customers limit the Home Use Program access to employees and inform employees of when they should discontinue use of the Home Use Program software in conjunction with a lapse in Software Assurance coverage or employment termination.

*Home Use Program software availability varies by region, offering and language.

For more information, including information on the future availability of additional Home Use Program software, please refer to

** Note to Campus and School customers: Please refer to the agreement (3.5 or greater) for additional program specific rules.

Another benefit of Office in Volume Licensing, so not necessarily subject to having SA, is Platform Independence, if you purchase a license for Office Pro under VL and realise you actually need to deploy Office MAC, the one license covers you to "Switch" to MAC, you do NOT need to purchase another license, this is best demonstrated in an EA were maybe 10% of the Office estate is MAC, so you simply place your order for the Office Pro licenses and install whichever platform you need


Office – Platform Independent Licenses

Microsoft Excel, Office Standard Edition, Office Professional Edition, PowerPoint, Microsoft Project, Word and Works are ‚Äúplatform independent‚ÄĚ licenses. A platform independent license allows for a specific product to be used on any computer platform (e.g., Intel¬ģ-based, Macintosh) that the software runs on, provided that the version is the same or lower as the original version that was licensed. For instance, a customer who acquired Microsoft Excel 5.0 for Macintosh may choose to use that license to run Microsoft Excel 5.0 for Windows or Microsoft Excel 5.0 for Windows NT, but could not use the license to run Microsoft Excel 7.0 for Windows 95.

The components of a product may vary by platform. In this case, a customer may run only the components of a product that are included in the version they choose to deploy.  For example, if a customer licenses Office Professional for Macintosh, but chooses to run Office Professional 2003 for Windows, the customer is not licensed to run Virtual PC 2004 (Windows), since Virtual PC 2004 is not included with the Windows version of the product.

Further, a customer who enrolls a platform independent license in Software Assurance is eligible to use the most current version of that particular product which is available during the term of the upgrade protection coverage, regardless of platform (as long as only one version is installed/used at a time). For example, a customer who has a Word for the Macintosh license enrolled in Word for the Macintosh Software Assurance or Upgrade Advantage is eligible to switch and use the most current version of Word for Windows that is made available during the term of their coverage.

Office over Terminal Server is posted here