Licensing Focus– Windows 8 Re-Imaging

Many IT Pros may be looking at re-imaging pre-installed OEM images with a standard corporate image. However, It’s less clear how this works from a licensing perspective. I have included some of the rules around re-imaging your PCs and the caveats that you should look out for to not fall foul of mislicensing.

    In terms of available approaches for an OEM image

  • An organisation may use the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) toolset to add or remove software from the OEM provided image. Guidance on restrictions and approach are provided below.
  • An organisation with a Volume Agreement is free to work independently with an OEM to develop a CFI (Corporate Factory Image) that is built on a base Volume Licence image
  • Microsoft allow re-imaging rights using the Volume Licensing media for reimaging software that was previously installed either by the OEM (or from FPP). Guidance on restrictions and approach are provided below, and the Licensing Brief
    • You can reimage an OEM Operating system with Volume Licence ‘bits’ as long as you meet the strict criteria set out in the licensing brief.
      • Microsoft do maintain that under the above strict criteria, an organisation must purchase at least one Volume Licence aligned to the retail or OEM licence that is to be re-imaged – This is a pre-requirement to obtain media and associated Volume Licence Key(s) from VLSC

    • Please be aware that organisations must first have a full licensed and qualified operating system (OS) installed on each computer.

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    • This can be checked in the following article on Windows 8 and the most recent release of the Microsoft Product List
    • Microsoft have clear criteria of what constitutes a qualified base licence for commercial licensing models. This is also available in the Product List and summarised in the following article

As always, licensing can be complex, so always refer to as many dependable resources as possible, whether the Microsoft website, the Product Use Rights and Product List or your preferred Large Account Reseller (LAR).


Reimaging Licensed Microsoft Software by Using Volume Licensing Media

The below is extracted from the Microsoft guidance document (Available Here) and provides the criteria for re-imaging of Windows OEM or Retail (FPP) licenses with base Volume Licence  images.

  1. Reimaging is permitted if the copies made from the Volume Licensing media are identical* to the originally licensed product
  2. Volume Licensing customers who have licensed Microsoft software products from an OEM, through a retail source or under any agreement other than their Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement may use copies made from Microsoft Volume Licensing media to re-image their devices.
  3. Customers can use these copies from Microsoft media only if they are the same product and version, contain the same components, and are in the same language
  4. Re-imaging using the full version media requires that customers must also have licensed qualifying full OEM or full FPP retail product.
  5. Volume Licensing customers can use their Volume Licensing media to reimage their Windows desktop operating system from an OEM only if it is the same product and version as that on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label that came with the PC
  6. Re-imaging with an "upgrade license", the device must have a full underlying OEM or full FPP retail license.
  7. If the customer has a FPP upgrade, and wants to re-image with Volume License Media, there again must be an underlying ‘qualified’ base license.
  8. Organisations do not have the right to reimage using OEM media.
  9. This must have the same Version, Edition, Components and Language

[Ref: Reimaging Licensed Microsoft Software by Using Volume Licensing Media February 2011] Available Here

[*] Windows Enterprise Edition is not available directly via the OEM or Retail Channel. It is a benefit of Software Assurance (SA). There is more information in the following article


 

Customisation of a OEM Image prior to End-Customer Acceptance

The End-Customer does not have a Volume Agreement

  • The OEM license provided with each PC that the organisation purchases allows the organisation to use the pre-installed Windows OEM image on that PC only.
  • If  a PC fails after it is received and require a re-installation of the OEM image, the organisation needs to use the original recovery media that was provided by the OEM for that PC.
  • The OEM will activate the Windows OS on each PC before shipping it to the end-customer, and that activation will remain valid upon deployment and upon recovery.
  • The End-Customer should  work with his OEM to identify the scope, processes, tools, and additional fees or contract requirements for creating a CFI (Corporate Factory Image)
  • The OEM will create a ‘Master Image’ of the agreed CFI; all Windows OS should be activated prior to acceptance.

Customisation of an OEM Image after Delivery

The End-Customer does not have a Volume Agreement

An organisation may seek to deploy a ‘Standard Corporate Image’ following acceptance of new PCs from an OEM.

  • If an Organisation does not have a Volume Agreement, the company does not have access to reimaging rights for the Volume Media for the associated OEM Image.
  • The OEM license allows the organisation to use the pre-installed image on the specific PC to which it was assigned (non-transferable).
  • If a PCs fails and requires recovery, the organisation needs to use the original recovery media provided by the OEM to re-install the original image.
  • OEM activation will be maintained upon deployment and upon recovery.
  • The OEM installs the ‘clean image’ and activates Windows OS on each PC. This removes the requirement to perform any activation tasks in the deployment plan.
  • Upon acceptance of the PC shipment, the organisation utilises the Windows AIK toolset (7)/ Windows AIK Toolset (8) to customise the OEM ‘clean image’ based on the ‘Standard Corporate Image’. The AIK Toolset allows an organisation to create a new master image, which is then installed on the specific PC.
  • The organisation will have to adopt a systematic approach to  directs their staff to unpack the all PCs and follow the same process to customise, save, and install a new master image on each individual PC.
  • If a PC fails after it is received and require a re-installation of the OEM image, the organisation needs to use the original recovery media that was provided by the OEM for that PC. Secondly, the above process will have to be individually repeated.
  • This process circumvents the requirement for a Volume Agreement (or a negotiated CFI with the OEM).

 

Customisation of an Volume Licence Image

  • The organisation has access to a Volume Agreement from Microsoft and has access to Volume Agreement Media via VLSC
  • Organisations must first have a licensed and qualified operating system (OS) installed on each computer. This can be checked in the following article
  • The organisation has confirmed it is an affiliate under the Volume Agreement and therefore has ‘re-imaging rights’
  • Re-imaging rights allow the organisation to distribute a custom master image using Volume Licence media. 
  • The Volume Agreement media will require Volume Activation (VA) after deployment of the custom image. This is not completed by the OEM prior to delivery and acceptance.
  • For volume activation, the organisation adopts the Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
  1. The organisation has access to a Volume Agreement from Microsoft and has access to Volume Agreement Media via VLSC
  2. Upon acceptance of the PC shipment, the organisation utilises the Windows AIK toolset (7)/ Windows AIK Toolset (8) to customise the OEM ‘clean image’ based on the required ‘Standard Corporate Image’.
  3. The organisation uses Windows Deployment Services to replace the  OEM image on each PC with the new, custom master image (resources available here)
  4. The organisation will then Activate the software Volume Activation (VA)
  5. If the organisation needs to update the custom master image, adopt the Windows AIK toolset (7)/ Windows AIK Toolset (8) to update the master image and then redeploy the new version of the master image to all qualifying PCs, including the most recent purchase.

 

Customisation of an OEM Image after Delivery

The End-Customer does have a Volume Agreement

  • An organisation received a ‘clean image’ from an OEM supplier which is pre-activated prior to delivery and acceptance.
  • The OEM installs the ‘clean image’ and activates OEM Windows OS on each PC. This removes the requirement to perform any activation tasks in the deployment plan.
  • The OEM license allows the organisation to use the pre-installed image on the specific OEM PC to which it was assigned (non-transferable).
  • Upon acceptance of the PC shipment, the organisation utilises the Windows AIK toolset (7)/ Windows AIK Toolset (8) to customise the OEM ‘clean image’ based on the ‘Standard Corporate Image’. The AIK Toolset allows an organisation to create a new master image, which is then installed on the specific PC.
  • The organisation will have to adopt a systematic approach to directs their staff to unpack the all PCs and follow the same process to customise, save, and install a new master image on each PC.

If the organisation wants to adopt Volume Licence customisation and deployment the following approach applies:-

      • The organisation has access to a Volume Agreement from Microsoft and has access to Volume Agreement Media via VLSC
  • The organisation must ensure it first has a licensed and qualified operating system (OS) installed on each computer. This can be checked in the following article
  • The organisation’s Volume Agreement provides it with reimaging rights but only for reimaging the custom Volume Licence media image.
    • An organisation cannot use the Volume Agreement to reimage the new PCs with a custom OEM media image.
  • The organisation will then Activate the software Volume Activation (VA)
  • For volume activation, the organisation adopts the Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
  • It is recommend to work with the OEM to create a CFI (Corporate Factory Image) that the OEM will use to install and activate Windows OS prior to shipping and acceptance. Alternatively, adopt a Master ‘Standard Corporate Image’ using Volume Agreement re-imaging rights using Volume Licence media via VLSC

Downgrade Rights

An important knowledge resource upon release of a new product is understanding the Downgrade Rights (For information purposes you can read previously provided prior downgrade options for Windows 7).

While to-date circa 580 Million licenses have been sold of Windows 7, many organisations have only recently deployed Windows 7 enterprise-wide or are still completing corporate refreshes to standardise on Windows 7 from XP.

It should be noted that End of Support for XP SP3 is now announced as April 8th, 2014 (12 Years and 6 Months since the original release date of October 2001)

  • Please be aware that Downgrade rights are included in licenses obtained through OEM or Volume Licensing and do not apply to retail copies of Windows.
  • OEM downgrade rights apply to Windows 8 Pro and allow downgrading for up to two prior versions (N-2) (to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business).
  • Software Assurance (SA) through Volume Licensing provides the greatest downgrade rights, allowing for downgrades to additional prior versions and editions, including notably, Windows 7 Enterprise and XP Pro. (See Product List)

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[Ref: Windows 8 Licensing Guide, September 2012]


 

Windows 8 Pro OEM EULA

Please see below the updated Windows 8 Pro OEM EULA. This is intended for information purposes only and was extracted from the public legal and corporate affairs website.

  • Can I downgrade the software? Instead of using the Windows 8 Pro software, you may use one of the following earlier versions: Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business.
  • You may transfer the software directly to another user, only with the licensed computer. The transfer must include the software, proof of purchase and […] an authentic Windows label such as the Certificate of Authenticity label, including the product key.
  • Use in a virtualized environment. If you use virtualization software, including Client Hyper-V, to create one or more virtual computers on a single computer hardware system, each virtual computer, and the physical computer, is considered a separate computer for purposes of this agreement. This license allows you to install only one copy of the software for use on one computer, whether that computer is physical or virtual. If you want to use the software on more than one virtual computer, you must obtain separate copies of the software and a separate license for each copy. Content protected by digital rights management technology or other full-volume disk drive encryption technology may be less secure in a virtualized environment.
  • How can I use the software? The software is licensed, not sold. Under this agreement, we grant you the right to install and run one copy only on the computer with which you acquired the software (the licensed computer), for use by one person at a time, but only if you comply with all the terms of this agreement. The software is not licensed to be used as server software or for commercial hosting – so, for example, you may not make the software available for simultaneous use by multiple users over a network.

[Ref: MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT WITH COMPUTER MANUFACTURER OR SOFTWARE INSTALLER] http://www.microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/IntellectualProperty/UseTerms/Default.aspx


Windows Licensing for Hobbyists

While this blog is focused on corporate licensing models, I am a regular reader of Custom PC and many PC hobbyists building PCs for personal use will be reviewing the best approach to procure Windows 8 for their new custom build PC.

Microsoft have at times been uncertain in their representation of the software use terms for this narrow consumer group. To date [30/10/2012] the Microsoft OEM Partner Center provides the following guidance:

“There is a growing market for "do-it-yourself" home PC hobbyists who assemble PCs from components for their own use. Microsoft retail software licenses are the appropriate licenses for the do-it-yourself market. OEM System Builder software is not intended for this use, unless the PC that is assembled is being resold to another party.”

[Ref: OEM Partner Center]

“The current OEM System Builder License allows system builders to distribute Windows desktop operating system licenses in the following ways: Preinstalled on a new PC and resold to a third party.

Unopened OEM System Builder packs (1-, 3-, or 30-packs) can be distributed to other system builders. Note that they must remain unopened so the receiving system builder can accept and be bound by the break-the-seal license agreement affixed to the pack. They should not be distributed to end users.

[Ref: OEM Partner Center]

However, the System Builder Licence Terms does reference a new approach – Personal Use Licence.

How can I use the software? We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license, we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer) as the operating system on a computer that you build for your personal use, or as an additional operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition, subject to the restrictions outlined under “Are there things I’m not allowed to do with the software?” The license is only for use by one person at a time, and only if you comply with all the terms of this agreement. The software is not licensed to be used as server software or for commercial hosting – so you may not make the software available for simultaneous use by multiple users over a network. For more information on multiple user scenarios and virtualization, see the Additional Terms.

Under the Section entitled “Are there things I am not allowed to do with the software?” :

“[…] You may not install the software as an operating system on any computer except one that you are building for your own use or as an operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition. You may not install the software on a computer that is running a non-genuine Windows operating system. If you are using the software as an operating system for commercial use, you may not license more than five copies of the software for such commercial use in total (and each copy of the software must be separately licensed). When using Internet-based features or Microsoft Family Safety, you may not use those features in any way that could interfere with anyone else’s use of them, or to try to gain access to any service, data, account or network, in an unauthorized manner.”

Under the Additional Terms section of the Personal Use Licence :

“f. Use in a virtualized environment. If you use virtualization software, including Client Hyper-V, to create one or more virtual computers on a single computer hardware system, each virtual computer, and the physical computer, is considered a separate computer for purposes of this agreement. This license allows you to install only one copy of the software for use on one computer, whether that computer is physical or virtual. If you want to use the software on more than one virtual computer, you must obtain separate copies of the software and a separate license for each copy. Content protected by digital rights management technology or other full-volume disk drive encryption technology may be less secure in a virtualized environment.”

The OEM Partner Center does explicitly address System Builder Licence Terms applicability to corporate customers:

Q. I would like to build PCs for my company and use OEM System Builder software for the operating system. Can I do this?

A. OEM System Builder software must be preinstalled and then resold to another party. If you are using the PC within your organization, this "resale" requirement will not be met. In addition, as a system builder preinstalling OEM System Builder software onto new PCs, this requires that you grant the end user license terms to the third party acquiring the PCs from you. If you are distributing the PCs within your organization, you can’t grant the end user license terms to yourself.”

Some may have noticed the restrictive terms pertaining to You may not install the software on a computer that is running a non-genuine Windows operating system”. My personal understanding is that this is not intended to limit deployment for Mac users, as the software use terms are careful to extend deployment rights “for your own use or as an operating system running on a local virtual machine “. Microsoft are using the “non-genuine” terminology to address piracy. Accordingly, it is worth reading the Microsoft guidance site How To Tell 


Conclusion

Please be aware Microsoft strongly incentivises standardised  procurement of Windows 8 Upgrade Volume Licences via a Microsoft Volume Agreement. Please review the latest article on Windows 8

    • If an organisation adopts standardised procurement of OEM with Volume Agreement Upgrade Licences for Windows there is more flexibility.
    • Please be aware that Extended Functionality, Extended Use Rights and associated Rights To Purchase are all aligned within the greater canon of Software Assurance benefits for Windows. This can be checked in the following article.
  • You can reimage an OEM Operating system with Volume Licence ‘bits’ as long as you meet the strict criteria set out in the licensing brief.
    • Microsoft do maintain that under the above strict criteria, an organisation must purchase at least one Volume Licence aligned to the retail or OEM licence that is to be re-imaged – This is a pre-requirement to obtain media and associated Volume Licence Key(s) from VLSC

Please be aware that I now work at a Microsoft Partner  and will now be providing my licensing expertise through their licensing services . So please do get in contact with me directly if you would like to have a bespoke review for your organisation (available to organisations with UK operations).

Our specialist team can assist you to purchase the correct licenses, at the best price, through the right program.  Please email my directly to arrange a meeting or call.

– Tony Mackelworth


Disclaimer

This document is provided “as-is”. Information and views expressed in this document, including URL and other Internet Web site references, may change without notice. This document does not provide you with any legal rights to any intellectual property in any Microsoft product.

Please be aware that nothing on this website constitutes specific technical advice. Some of the material on this website may have been prepared some time ago and therefore may have been superseded. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances.

The contents of this website are for general information purposes only. Whilst the author(s) endeavour to ensure that the information on this website is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and the primary author and website owner or it’s contributing Authors do not accept any liability for error or omission.

The contributing authors and owner of the website shall not be liable for any damage (including, without limitation, damage for loss of business or loss of profits) arising in contract, tort or otherwise from the use of, or inability to use, this website or any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken as a result of using this website or any such material.



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One thought on “Licensing Focus– Windows 8 Re-Imaging

  1. Hi,

    I came to your site (interesting!) searching Google for something I found in the license agreement of my newly bought Windows 8 Pro licenses.

    I am not sure I got the correct licenses… I am legalizing all the software in a commercial company, purchasing VL licenses for everything. However, my Microsoft reseller told me I could only get upgrade licenses for full Windows OS’s, but I had nothing to upgrade from, so he sold me Windows 8 Pro OEM, and shipped me the DVD media.

    I received the media, and the cover tells me to visit
    http://www.microsoft.com/oem/opk
    or
    http://www.windows.com/personaluselicense

    depending on whether I’m a “system builder” or not. I don’t think I am (amI?), so I went on to read the Personal use license, and I am surprised at the way it is phrased: “you may not license more than five copies of the software for such commercial use in total (and each copy of the software must be separately licensed)”…

    What does this mean? I can only use 5 of these Windows 8 DVD’s in a commercial company? So, for more than five, how should I license full Windows copies then?

    Thanks in advance for any insight – I prefer asking here than asking resellers, they will contradict themselves and chose whatever optimistic interpretation of the licenses fits their will to sell you more licenses…

    Pedro

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