Dell recommends Windows 8.

Licensing Considerations for Windows 8

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 1/22/2013 | 35 comments

Brien Posey
As with any operating system upgrade, organizations considering a transition to Windows 8 must carefully consider the licensing requirements and implications.

For the most part, the licensing requirements are very straightforward. Microsoft has even rewritten the license terms to make them very easy to understand. Most of the legalese has been replaced with plain English. As such, most organizations will be able to simply purchase the appropriate upgrade license and move forward with their deployments. However, you need to be aware of some surprises.

Differences in Windows 8 editions
The first (and arguably most important) consideration when planning an upgrade or migration to Windows 8 is choosing which edition to deploy. Each edition of Windows 8 offers a different feature set, and Microsoft's supported upgrade paths from Windows 7 are edition specific.

If you are planning an in-place upgrade, you must choose your Windows 8 edition based on the edition of Windows 7 you are running. This chart outlines Microsoft's supported upgrade paths.

You can upgrade to Windows 8 from the operating systems listed belowYou can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from the operating systems listed belowYou can upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise from the operating systems listed below
Windows 7 StarterWindows 7 StarterWindows 7 Professional (Volume License)
Windows 7 Home BasicWindows 7 Home BasicWindows 7 Enterprise (Volume License)
Windows 7 Home PremiumWindows 7 Home PremiumWindows 8 (Volume License)
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Ultimate

If you plan a clean installation of Windows 8 (rather than an in-place upgrade), you can choose any Windows 8 edition you want. However, if you pick an edition that is not listed within the supported upgrade path, you probably won't be able to get upgrade pricing.

The upgrade path isn't the only consideration. You must also consider the features you will need. This table provides a feature comparison.

FeatureWindows 8Windows 8 ProWindows 8 Enterprise
Remote DesktopClient onlyClient serverClient server
EFS and BitLocker EncryptionNoYesYes
Slide Load Metro AppsNoPartial supportPartial support
Boot From VHDNoYesYes
Join an Active Directory DomainNoYesYes
Group Policy SupportNoYesYes
Hyper-VNo64-bit only64-bit only
AppLockerNoNoYes
Windows to GoNoNoYes
DirectAccessNoNoYes
BranchCacheNoNoYes
Can Be Virtualized by RemoteFXNoNoYes
Services for NFSNoNoYes
Windows Media CenterNoYes (with add-in)No

Virtual machine licensing requirements
One licensing consideration that has caught some administrators by surprise is the way Windows 8 is licensed for virtual environments. As you might have heard, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise include Client Hyper-V, a desktop hypervisor that allows you to run virtual machines on a Windows 8 desktop. Although Windows 8 is licensed to run Hyper-V, it is not licensed to let you operate Windows 8 within a virtual machine. Microsoft requires a separate Windows 8 license for every instance, regardless of whether Windows 8 is running on physical or virtual hardware.

I think the main reason this requirement catches some administrators off guard probably has to do with Microsoft's inconsistent licensing policies. Windows Server 2012 also includes Hyper-V. However, a Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition license will allow you to install Windows as a host operating system, and you can create two Windows Server 2012 virtual machines without having to purchase any additional licenses. The Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition license allows for an unlimited number of virtual machines.

Windows XP Mode
When Microsoft released Windows Vista, there was a tremendous backlash against the operating system, because many applications that had been developed for Windows XP would not function properly in Vista. Microsoft's solution was a Windows 7 feature called Windows XP Mode.

Windows XP Mode used Microsoft's Virtual PC to run a virtual instance of Windows XP behind the scenes. The nice thing about the way Microsoft implemented this feature was that it was completely transparent. Applications running in Windows XP were accessible from the Windows 7 desktop without requiring the user to interact directly with the Windows XP virtual machine. In many cases, users didn't even realize the Windows XP virtual machine existed.

If your organization uses Windows XP Mode, you might want to reconsider the decision to upgrade to Windows 8. Windows XP Mode does not exist in Windows 8.

Some are quick to point out that Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise include Hyper-V, so Windows XP Mode really isn't needed anymore. You can simply run Windows XP in a Hyper-V virtual machine. There is just one problem: The Windows XP license was included with Windows 7 but is not included with Windows 8. If you attempt to remove the virtual hard disk file used by Windows XP Mode and connect it to Hyper-V in Windows 8, you will receive a message that Windows XP needs to be activated. However, the activation process will fail, because the Windows XP license does not extend to Windows 8/Hyper-V environments. Fortunately, there is a detailed description of the problem and Microsoft's official licensing policies for Windows XP Mode on the company's website. If XP Mode is part of your environment, you should read this soon.

Obviously, there are a lot of choices to be made here. Hopefully, these tables will help you make your decision. But before you make any decision, you have to be clear about your needs as an organization.

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Notmy Realname   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   4/7/2014 11:22:02 AM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
Keep in mind if you are one of the millions of business users buying Windows 7 Pro machines (pre-installed from the OEM such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc), you are violating the license agreement if you use Windows XP Mode.  According to Microsoft, if you buy a machine it is licensed with Windows 8.1 Pro and therefore does NOT include the Windows XP Mode license that is included with the Windows 7 Pro "license" that you believe you are buying.  So, for those millions of people that still have to run Windows XP (because the application vendor doesn't exist or it is prohibitive to re-develop the application, or any number of other reasons).  Now, it isn't obvious that buying a machine with Windows 7 Pro pre-installed doesn't really include the same rights that it did when it was bought a couple years ago pre-installed (yes, I know those sound like the same things), but Microsoft customers are supposed to know all those detailed changes in the licensing programs, OK not really, you're expected to slip up :)
PositivelyKeith   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   8/25/2013 5:11:50 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
@TJGUK oooh I am jealous! I have been looking at the S4 lately. I have an S2 and a Note 10.1 and would like to bridge the gap in size. How are you finding it? Some of the smaller app development companies remind me of small pop groups. A group of people get together with a range of talents and abilities. They produce apps or music. Get successful. Make some money. Then individuals decide they want to do their own thing and go off to set up on their own...
TJGUK   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   8/2/2013 10:07:55 AM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
Smaller companies will certainly take the money and run until they too become a big, bloated company. Unless they have a visionary that can keep things going. That is very rare in any industry. BTW I just got a Galaxy S4 so I know what you mean about phones getting bigger. I actually love it!
PositivelyKeith   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   7/30/2013 3:33:38 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
Phones are getting bigger. Tablets are getting smaller. PCs are becoming non existent. App developers will come and go... Smaller companies will be more agile and will take the money and run... Or will they?
TJGUK   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   7/1/2013 11:37:15 AM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
@PositivelyKeith: I think the diference between the app developers of today and the dotcom companies is that you don't have the venture capitalists throwing money around today like back then. In the dotcom days, whole companies were made up without business plans or structure basically to firm up so they can take them public and make their money back. Today you have small companies of just a few people making small apps and getting commissions from Apple based on sales. So if they fail it will not bring down the stock marke. In terms of boundaries, I think the idea is to eliminate them! The feeling is that you can have access to anything from your office, DVR, bank account from a device be it the smartphone, laptop or desktop dinosaur.
PositivelyKeith   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   6/30/2013 11:26:05 AM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
I sense that something big could happen in the market soon. There seems to be a myriad of small companies in the mobile app market and sooner or later they are going to boom or bust. It is a little like the dot com boom. But the boundaries are no longer clear. When does a smartphone become a tablet become a laptop become ??? Whatever next? The market used to cascade down from PC to laptop etc Now it runs the other way from smartphone up!!
TJGUK   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   6/7/2013 10:32:20 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
And yes, Google is worth more than MS. In fact their stock went up to $920/share recently. There has been some pullback but their marketcap I believe is just a bit less than MS which is incredible.
TJGUK   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   6/7/2013 10:28:17 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
Keith I have been telling MS to fly a kite for years! To me Blue is an admission of failure on MS part. They have to get it right this time or they will totally lose what little they have in the phone and tablet segment. Google continues to take market share and who knows what Apple has in the can for later this year. That could be a killing blow for MS if Apple surprises us with a revolutionary iphone 6. They are going to release ios 7 shortly. MS has to get moving. Quickly.
PositivelyKeith   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   5/27/2013 4:30:20 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
@TJGUK it looks as if that is happening as I believe Google is now worth more than MS! No-one is going to go with W8 when announcements have already been made about 'Blue'. I widely tipped some months ago that W8 was MS flying a kite to see what the market would stand and then take forward the best bits.
PositivelyKeith   Licensing Considerations for Windows 8   5/27/2013 4:30:19 PM
re: Licensing Considerations for Windows 8
@TJGUK it looks as if that is happening as I believe Google is now worth more than MS! No-one is going to go with W8 when announcements have already been made about 'Blue'. I widely tipped some months ago that W8 was MS flying a kite to see what the market would stand and then take forward the best bits.
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