Windows 8.1 End of Support

Microsoft remind us that Windows 8.1 reached End of Support on 10 January, 2023 at which point software updates are no longer provided. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft will not be offering Extended Security Updates for Windows 8.1.

Find a useful article with a whole host of FAQs and links to further information here:

End of sales for OEM Windows 8.1 – October 2016

Usually when Microsoft launch a new flavour of Windows the previous version is available preinstalled on new machines for at least another two years. It’s different with Windows 10!

Windows 7 Professional will be available until 31 October 2016 (4 years after the launch of Windows 8) while Windows 8.1 will also be available until 31 October 2016 but that’s a mere 15 months after the launch of Windows 10.

The end of Windows 8 comes even quicker at 30 June 2016. Microsoft’s Windows lifecycle fact sheet has all the details:

Windows 8.1 Licensing Guide updated for Per User Licensing

The Windows 8.1 Licensing Guide from Microsoft is updated for Windows per User. This is a veritable treasure trove of information! Use it to find out about the new Windows SA per User Add-on and Full USLs, as well as their VDA counterparts.

There’s information on the retirement of the Companion Subscription Licence and how MDOP now extends across multiple devices if Windows is licensed by user.

You’ll also find the downgrade rights for both device and user Windows VL licences, and a useful table showing the SKU availability by VL program. Get this great document here:

Enterprise Sideloading FAQ

An interesting FAQ document on the changes to Enterprise Sideloading. Two main things I hadn’t seen before: the Windows 8.1 Update unlocks Windows Industry Pro and Enterprise devices for Sideloading regardless of whether or not they’re domain joined; the Sideloading key that comes with Sideloading Rights starts with 25 activations and you can contact Microsoft support to get further activations.

Download the full FAQ here:

Overview of the Changes to the May 2014 Volume Licensing Product List

SQL Server 2014

  • It’s confirmed on page 27 that the CAL waiver for Batch jobs that was introduced with the SQL 2014 Business Intelligence edition also applies to the 2012 version
  • Customers with SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse Core licences with SA can now step up to SQL Enterprise Core licences – see page 75

AX 2012 R3

  • AX 2012 R3 replaces the R2 version for May 2014
  • There are changes to the wording in the rights allowed with the different levels of CALs, as well as clarification of terms such as “Point of Sale Device” and “Warehouse Device”. Full details are on pages 17/18
  • There’s confirmation added that CALs are not required for external users, but a cautionary note is included stating that external user licences must not be used for business process outsourcing purposes
  • Fail-over server licensing becomes an SA benefit. Although it’s not mentioned in the Product List I thought I’d include the change here – see page 67 of the April Product Use Rights for details

Windows Enterprise Sideloading

  • There are a number of changes to the licensing of Windows Enterprise Sideloading. Read on for the summary, or peruse page 33
  • Enterprise Sideloading is now feature-enabled in both the Pro and Enterprise editions running on domain-joined PCs through any Volume Licensing program
  • Customers with EA, Select Plus, School or EES agreements receive Enterprise Sideloading Rights to enable non domain-joined or RT devices
  • Other customers can acquire Enterprise Sideloading Rights as a single SKU to cover all devices for $100 through Open

Other Additions

  • Project Lite arrives – this is a cloud offering designed for project team members to do things such as updating tasks and entering timesheet information as an alternative to the full-blown (and more expensive) Project Online
  • The CRM Online Enterprise USLs are added although there is a note stating that availability will be later in May/June. These USLs add Dynamics Marketing (formerly MarketingPilot) and Unified Service Desk (an application for call centres) to the functionality accessed through the CRM Online Professional USLs
  • Standalone Dynamics Marketing USLs are also added with the same note regarding availability

Changes to Windows Sideloading Licensing

Enterprise Sideloading is the process of installing Windows Apps directly to a device without going through the Windows Store. You can imagine that this is ideal for organisations that want to build their own custom line of business apps and then distribute them directly to their devices since it would make no sense to make those apps publicly available through the Windows Store.

Devices must be enabled for Enterprise Sideloading, and this functionality has historically been enabled as a feature for domain-joined PCs running Windows Enterprise edition. Other devices, either running different editions of Windows or not joined to the domain, could be enabled for Sideloading via a product key. These product keys were available in packs of 10 or 100 keys, or were an SA benefit for certain customers.

However, there are some changes which are effective from 1 May 2014 – here’s the summary:

  • Domain joined devices running Windows 8.1 Pro or Enterprise edition (including Industry edition), in any Volume Licensing program, are feature-enabled for Windows Enterprise Sideloading
  • Windows RT 8.1 or Pro/Enterprise devices that are not domain joined still require product keys which are obtained by acquiring Enterprise Sideloading Rights
  • Enterprise Sideloading Rights are granted to all customers who have an Enterprise Agreement or Select Plus agreement, or for academic institutions, an EES or a School agreement
  • For customers without the above agreements, Enterprise Sideloading Rights can be purchased for $100 through the Open program to cover an unlimited number of devices

There’s a presentation from Microsoft you may find useful to peruse ( or refer to the May 2014 Product List on page 33.

Changes to Windows 8.1 Licensing

So, 1 March 2014 heralds a new dawn for Windows client licensing. OK, that might be overstating it, but the licensing that we’re familiar with has undergone a change. Here’s a summary of the differences, compiled from the March 2014 Product List.

What are the changes?

  • There’s a new standalone Windows Enterprise Upgrade SKU – that’s right, no need to buy SA to get access to the Windows Enterprise feature set
  • The Windows Enterprise Upgrade SKU is only available through the Volume Licensing programs
  • SA can now ONLY be added to the Windows Enterprise Upgrade SKU – therefore, you can’t add SA to FPP or OEM licences any more

What doesn’t change?

  • The Windows licences available through Volume Licensing programs are still Upgrade licences and require an underlying Qualifying Licence – the list of which doesn’t change

What are the offerings?

  • Windows Pro Upgrade
  • Windows Enterprise Upgrade
  • Windows Enterprise Upgrade + SA

What’s the availability?

  • The Windows Pro Upgrade is available through Open and Select Plus programs
  • The Windows Enterprise Upgrade is available through all Volume Licensing programs with SA being mandatory in EA and Open Value agreements and optional in Open and Select Plus

What happens to existing customers?

  • Customers with Windows Pro Upgrade + SA licences purchased before 1 March 2014 may renew the SA on those licences at the relevant time
  • Customers with an existing enrolment with Windows Pro Upgrade + SA may continue to purchase Windows Pro Upgrade + SA licences until the end of the enrolment
  • Customers with Select Plus or Open agreements who purchased Windows 7 or 8 through FPP or OEM before 1 March 2014 may attach SA to those licences within 90 days of the licence purchase date

Overview of the Changes to the December 2013 Volume Licensing Product List

This month I think it’s fairly obvious that the Product List Elves also work for Santa since they haven’t made a huge number of changes to the December Product List. It’s the Windows client that features most prominently so let’s start with that and take a look at what’s new and amended:

  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise Sideloading: This has been updated to Windows 8.1 and there’s a new 10 Pack available through Select and Open agreements like its 100 Pack big brother
  • Windows Multi-lingual User Interface Rights: There’s new confirmation on page 69 that although SA customers can use the MUI of prior versions of Windows, they can’t take MUI rights from Windows 8.1 Pro and use them with Windows 7 Pro, since MUI rights for Windows 7 were only available via Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 Pro Re-imaging Rights: There’s a quirk in the OEM Windows 8.1 Pro licence which means that customers can’t downgrade to Windows 8 Pro through OEM. A new piece of text on page 117 confirms that Volume Licensing customers can re-image as if their Windows 8.1 Pro devices were licensed with Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise: This is called out as a new SA benefit on page 68 for those customers with SA coverage for Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro Downgrade Rights: There’s a change on page 124 that gives additional downgrade rights to Windows 7 Professional for ATMs for Select/EA customers

There are a couple of things of note regarding Visual Studio 2013 and the new Deployment licences. Do check out the previous blog entry on this site if you want to know more about these new licences:

  • Visual Studio Deployment 2013 Standard and Datacenter editions are added to the Product List with availability showing in all licensing programs
  • There’s confirmation on page 113 that users with a Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 with MSDN subscription are entitled to one licence for Visual Studio Deployment 2013 Standard
  • Page 173 gives a note on the media eligibility for Visual Studio Deployment – the note being that there won’t be any physical media options, with the software only available via electronic download

And then a few final odds and ends:

  • The new Student Advantage program which offers Office 365 ProPlus free for students where the faculty and staff are already licensed for Office Professional Plus or Office 365 ProPlus makes its debut and details are included in the relevant education programs from page 39 onwards
  • Lots more Office 365 SKUs have been added to the Open and Open Value program as we’ve been expecting and this month’s Product List has been updated to show the availability through the different programs
  • And finally some new promotions have sprung into life – do check specifically if they’re running in your geography though. There’s one for customers with SA on Project/Visio Professional who can transition to the Office 365 Pro SKU; another for customers with SA on Project/Visio Standard who can step up to the Professional edition; and one offering discounts of purchases of Windows Embedded Industry 8.1 Pro

Overview of the Changes to the November 2013 Volume Licensing Product List

This month it’s the new Server and Cloud Enrolment (SCE) that’s firmly in the spotlight. As a reminder, this new enrolment replaces the Enrolment for Application Platform (EAP) and Enrolment for Core Infrastructure (ECI) and is aimed at customers who are happy to commit to Software Assurance across their estate on products such as SQL Server or the Core Infrastructure Server (CIS) Suites which license Windows Server and System Center.

  • Products Available: There’s a new SCE column added to those very useful tables at the beginning of the document – you know, the ones that tell you what products are available through which programs etc. In this sparkly new SCE column you’ll find details of the SCE products that require enterprise-wide commitment marked with “STP” (Server and Tools Product) or “C” (core infrastructure product), and available additional products marked as “A”
  • Minimum Requirements: There’s a useful section added to page 43 which shows the minimum initial order requirements for SCE. Previously, this sort of information has only been available in the Enrolment documentation so it’s good to have it more accessible here
  • Subscription Licence Minimums: There are new subscription licences available through SCE, and page 49 confirms the exact set of licences that are eligible for reduction at anniversary after an initial 12 month term
  • Program Benefits: Section 7 of the document on page 63 adds “Program Benefits” to its title and this is where you’ll find details of the SCE benefit that allows you to use System Center to manage up to 10 VOSE instances within Windows Azure for each Core Infrastructure Server Suite licence enrolled in the SCE
  • Renewing EAP Customers: There’s confirmation on page 61 that EAP customers who previously deferred buying licences by buying the SAPriorL SKUs must buyout their licences before they can renew SA
  • Promotions: There are some interesting promotions associated with SCE too. On page 38 you’ll find details of the “Windows Azure Adoption Acceleration” promotion which offers additional monetary commitment credit to customers who are prepared to commit to an upfront monetary commitment, with three bands starting at a commitment of $50K. And also on this page is the “FY14 Jumpstart Server & Cloud Enrolment” which offers a 15% discount on Core Infrastructure Server Datacenter Suite L&SA and SA. Both of these promotions run from 1 November 2013 to 30 June 2014

In other mainstream product news this month:

  • Windows Server and System Center are perhaps more interesting for noting what’s been taken out. As you’d expect, all the references to the product names have been “R2-ified” but the raft of information that’s been available showing all the SA upgrade path information for both products has been removed and now just refers you back to the October 2013 Product List
  • There’s some useful information for Windows too:
    • Again, the version has changed throughout to 8.1, and on page 120 there’s confirmation that VL customers with expired SA on Windows 8 Pro may move to Windows 8.1 Pro, but not Windows 8.1 Enterprise
    • Page 120 informs us that Windows Enterprise Sideloading licences for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 may be used interchangeably, so devices licensed for Windows 8 Enterprise Sideloading that have been upgraded to Windows 8.1 don’t need to be separately re-licensed
    • There’s some expanded information on Sideloading with Windows Embedded on page 116, and details of how customers can enrol in Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro Software Assurance on page 118
  • The rules for acquiring Windows Azure Services have changed – the detail is on page 57 onwards but I’ll explain it all in a separate blog post very soon!

And, finally, those very niche bits and pieces that have changed – let me know if YOU’RE the person who was glad to know the following:

  • The number of licensed desktops for eligibility to participate in the Enterprise Source Licensing Program has increased from 1,500 to 10,000
  • Details of the Enterprise Strategy Program Offerings have been reworked and clarified

Windows 8.1 Licensing Guide

New Windows 8.1 Licensing Guide from Microsoft ( Licensing largely the same, as you’d expect, but three key clarifications:

  • Customers covered with SA retain perpetual use rights for Windows 8.1 Enterprise (even after SA has expired and regardless of whether they have installed the Enterprise edition – a change from the original October 2012 Windows 8 Licensing Guide – page 9)
  • VL customers with Windows 8 Pro without SA can upgrade to Windows 8.1 Pro, but active SA is needed to upgrade to Windows 8.1 Enterprise (page 5)
  • Confirmation that primary users of a device covered with MDOP and CSL are also covered for MDOP on their companion devices (page 13).