What the end of Windows XP means for reimaging rights

Microsoft plans to discontinue support for Windows XP in April 2014, and as a result many businesses are now scrambling to upgrade their operating systems. Inevitably, we’ve seen an influx of questions about the available options, the best methods for transitioning, and most importantly, the applicability of Windows reimaging rights.

Reimaging rights refer to the ability of a Windows software purchaser to copy that software onto multiple devices from a single standard image. Reimaging rights are often utilized when an organization purchases a device, or multiple devices, that are preloaded with the latest version of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) operating system (OS). More often than not, businesses don’t run the most current software across their IT environments, or they are incapable of supporting multiple versions. In these cases, reimaging rights allow businesses to downgrade the software on the new device by running a standard image in their local environment.

Reimaging rights are directly related to how an organization procures software, whether through a reseller via a volume licensing (VL) agreement, pre-installment on a device purchased through an OEM, or a Full Packaged Product (FPP) purchased from a distributor. These unique ways of acquiring the Windows desktop OS complicate the reimaging rights allowed in certain scenarios.

Microsoft VL programs don’t provide licenses for the full version of the Windows OS for desktop PCs. This means that contractual VL customers can purchase either an upgrade, software assurance (SA), or an upgrade with software assurance (U&SA) for each device that has a qualifying OEM or FPP license to access the most current version of the Windows desktop OS, and will always have reimaging rights for the version of OEM or FPP software they originally purchased.

Organizations that don’t purchase via contractual VL programs, such as Open License or Open Value, must purchase at least a single upgrade or U&SA for Windows in order to gain reimaging rights. The version and edition that a customer can install are listed on the device’s certificate of authenticity (COA). If SA is active, the customer is entitled to the latest version of the software. If SA was active but has since expired, the customer is entitled to the version of the software that was current at the time of SA expiration.

The rules are more restrictive for organizations that purchase OEM licenses only and do not have VL access through one of the previously mentioned versions. These customers do not have the right to reimage using OEM media. The OEM image can only be preloaded on a device by using OEM media during manufacturing. Instead, organizations can individually recover the OS using OEM-provided recovery media to return the device to its original state.

Best estimates state that between 20 and 31 percent of business are still running on Windows XP and nearly 7 percent of our own blog readers are still using the OS. If you’re one of them and you’d like to learn more about how you can use reimaging rights to transition to a different operating system or if you just need a little guidance, let us know. SHI has the answers.

You can also download this Windows Reimaging Rights Guide for quick reference.

windows reimaging rights

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