Originally Published on November 11, 2012

Learn about the differences between retail products and products available through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), Microsoft's website to help you get installation keys, download or order Microsoft installation software, and access other benefits.

Product List

The Volume Licensing program has a slightly different list of
products than you might obtain through the Microsoft website or retail
outlets; for example:

  • Although Windows upgrades are available through Volume Licensing, full desktop operating system licenses are not.
  • Some server applications and other applications used mainly for
    enterprise operations and software development are available only
    through Volume Licensing; there is no retail version.
  • The Volume Licensing program offers different configurations of some desktop applications, specifically Office suites.

There are several different Volume Licensing programs; donations
obtained through TechSoup Canada are in the standard Open License program. Most
products in the Open License program are available through TechSoup.

Licenses Can Apply to Earlier Versions, Multiple Languages, and Other Members of the Product Family

Volume licenses allow installation of earlier versions of the
product, any language in which it is published, and sometimes even
different products within the same Microsoft family.

For example, you can request 20 copies of Windows 7 in English. If
you ask for media during checkout, Microsoft will send you the
installation CD-ROM or DVD-ROM for the English version. After you
register with the VLSC, you can get additional installation software in
French, Spanish, and Chinese. You may, of course, only install a
combined total of 20 operating systems.

For details on how to acquire installation software, see our Volume Licensing Service Center Guide

Product Use Rights

Volume Licensing desktop products have slightly different product use
rights (PUR, also called terms of use) from retail products. To view
the detailed PUR for a product, use the Create a Customized PUR link on Microsoft's Product Licensing page.

Sometimes the Volume Licensing products are slightly different from
their retail counterparts; for example, the Windows upgrade products
allow upgrade only from business versions of Windows and not the home
versions. Check the TechSoup product descriptions for this information.

See below for an overview of product use rights for desktop software.

PUR Summary for Desktop Operating Systems

  • You must acquire a license for each device on or from which you access or use the software (locally and remotely).
  • You may install only one copy on the device.
  • You may install that copy on the host operating system or in a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.
  • You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time.
  • In Volume Licensing, the desktop operating system license is an "upgrade license." You may acquire upgrade licenses only for devices for which you have already licensed a "qualifying" operating system.

PUR Summary for Desktop Applications

  • You must request one copy from TechSoup for every main computer on which the application will be installed. This main computer becomes the "licensed device."
  • You may install and use any number of copies of the software and of any prior version of the software on the licensed device.
  • Only one user may use the copies on the licensed device at a time. You may also install a copy on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device.
  • Organizations that install the application on a network device for remote access should read the entire product use rights.
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