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Windows 8 Licensing and SA Benefits


August 2012

Microsoft have simplified the line-up of Windows 8 products, and have designed additional SA benefits that will help you to license employee-owned devices more easily, and allow for greater security and control when non-company owned devices are used for business purposes.

What changes:

  • Fewer Editions, simpler line-up
  • Windows 8 RT is introduced, available for tablets and only licensed as OEM
  • New SA benefits:
    • Sideloading –make Windows Apps available from your infrastructure.
    • RT Companion license – gives company-owned Windows RT devices the right to access a virtual desktop image.
    • Windows-to-go – the company image is stored on USB storage media, and can be run on any device.
    • Companion Subscription licence (right to purchase): allows devices that are not covered by VDA and RT Companion licenses to access a virtual desktop image.

What doesn’t change:

  • Available as an Upgrade License for Volume licensing, therefore requiring an underlying Qualifying Operating System
  • Windows 8 Enterprise is available only through SA
  • Enterprise use rights remain after SA coverage expires
  • Current SA benefits remain
    • VDA
    • Roaming Use Rights
    • Direct Access
    • Branch Cache
    • AppLocker
    • VDA
  • SA on Windows 8 gives you the right to purchase:
    • MDOP

Windows 8 licensing, pricing, SA Benefits

Available editions

The line-up edition has been simplified to only four editions, down from Windows 7’s six editions.

Windows RT
Windows RT is an operating system designed to run on ARM processors (mainly employed on tablets). It is a smaller footprint version of Windows 8, with the same look and feel as the full version.

Windows RT will be available as pre-installed OS only, under Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licenses.

Windows 8
Aimed at the consumer market, Windows 8 will be available under OEM and Full Packaged Product licensing (FPP).

Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro’s target market is small and medium enterprises, and it is the only edition of Windows 8 to be available through three channels: OEM, FPP and Volume Licensing.

Windows 8 Enterprise
As for previous versions of Windows, the Enterprise Edition is only available as a Software Assurance benefit for Volume Licensing customers.


Microsoft has announced that there will be no price increase for Windows 8 for the enterprise market.

Software Assurance Benefits

The Software Assurance Benefits available under Windows 8 can be categorised into three groups:


  • Direct Access
  • Branch Cache
  • AppLocker
  • Sideloading (new)

Licensing Rights

  • Roaming Use Rights
  • Virtual Desktop Access
  • RT Companion (new)
  • Windows To Go (new)

Rights to Purchase

  • Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack
  • Companion Subscription License (new)

New Software Assurance Benefits – in detail

Windows 8 Apps will be available to download from the Windows Store for all Windows 8 users. Sideloading allows enterprises to make Windows 8 apps (touch optimized) available directly to devices within an organization as opposed to being installed through the public Windows Store. Side Loading will be available both as SA benefit and as standalone product, for customers who decide not to purchase SA on Windows 8.

Windows To Go
With Windows to go, enterprises can store the company image on USB storage media that can be run on any device, either company or employee-owned, on or off the premises, by the primary user of a device that is licensed for Windows 8 with SA.

This easy to manage solution ensures that users have a consistent Windows 8 experience across PCs and local data is protected.

RT Companion License and Companion Subscription license

Microsoft put a lot of focus on the concept of Flexible Workplace, an environment where users utilise a variety of devices, some their own, some company owned, sometimes within and other times outside of the company firewall. The following SA Benefits are designed to make it easier to license these scenarios

The RT Companion License SA Benefit gives virtual desktop access to a company-owned Windows RT device that is assigned to the primary user of a device that is licensed for Windows 8 with SA. The device is licensed to be used both inside and outside the company firewall.

Software Assurance on Windows 8 includes the right to purchase a Companion Subscription License. This license will allow the primary user of a device that is licensed for Windows 8 with SA to access a virtual desktop image from up to 4 devices that fall under these categories:

  • Company or employee non-x86 devices (iPad, Android, etc.)
  • employee-owned x86 devices (PCs, laptops)
  • employee-owned RT devices

Each of these devices would have required separate VDA subscription in the past, whereas now they could all be dealt with under the one Companion Subscription.

Click here to view chart on the licensing rights for the primary user of a device that is licensed for Windows 8 with SA.

If you have any questions, please email:
Or contact your Local SLMS Sales Specialist for support:

For more information about SLMS, access the following link: 


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