Microsoft cuts Ultimate licenses for volume buyers

Scott dunn
By Scott Dunn

During most of 2007, buyers of Microsoft’s volume-licensing bundle were allowed to run one copy of Vista Ultimate on each machine covered by the arrangement.

Microsoft quietly changed this policy, however, and now allows businesses to get only one Vista Ultimate product key for every 100 copies of Vista Enterprise they purchase.

Software Assurance users hit limits on Ultimate

The change in policy affects businesses that license Microsoft software in bulk through the Redmond company’s Software Assurance (SA) program.

Among other things, SA allows customers to get multiple copies of Microsoft products at a steep discount. In addition, some products — such as Vista Enterprise, the edition of Vista that’s aimed at large corporations with complex IT needs — are available only through Software Assurance.

Here’s what changed:

Formerly 1-to-1 coverage. According to the Vista Ultimate FAQ on the Microsoft Volume Licensing site, “For each Windows license covered under Software Assurance, you are eligible to run Windows Vista Ultimate on a desktop covered under Software Assurance during the term of your Software Assurance coverage.” This policy ended on Dec. 1, 2007. (Note: The FAQ refers to a deadline of Nov. 1, 2006, but this was extended to Nov. 30, 2007, for companies that wanted licenses for Ultimate, according to page 62 of the February 2008 Microsoft Product List, a 127-page .doc file.)

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