Microsoft’s highly anticipated Windows 10 operating system is sounding even better than many expected. When Microsoft presented a deep look at Windows 10 on Jan. 21, it offered customers an added incentive to jump to its newest offering: The company revealed it will offer free upgrades to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 devices. For customers who have not yet upgraded to Windows 8.1 from XP or Vista, this provides an excellent opportunity to maximize value, and to modernize their legacy OSes.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 demo and incentive announcement generated a lot of buzz, but also many questions. I’ve detailed five key insights you should be aware of regarding the Windows 10 news, and how it relates to your volume licensing agreements:
1. What you need to upgrade, and when. In order to receive the complimentary upgrade, users’ devices must be Internet-connected and enable Windows Update, and must have Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8.1 Update prior to upgrading. But Microsoft’s offer is only available for a limited time. Customers must act within the first year after Windows 10 is released — likely some time later this year – to take advantage of the free upgrade. Customers who upgrade to Windows 10 after its one-year anniversary date will be charged.
2. But not all OSes are covered. The free Windows 10 upgrade does not apply to all customers using certain versions of current operating systems: Users running Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, or Windows RT/RT 8.1 should consult the terms of their volume licensing agreements to identify the right path for upgrading their deployments to Windows 10.
3. The value of volume licensing. For Windows Enterprise customers, volume licensing provides a purchasing vehicle to attain upgrade licenses to Windows 10. Volume activation enables organizations to deploy images using standardized volume licensing keys. Windows Enterprise customers gain access to enhanced features and tools to manage mobile, productive, and secure environments.
Volume licensing also offers flexible per-user subscription licensing options for Windows. With a per-user licensing model, customers can opt for a solution that simplifies the licensing of a mobile workforce and BYOD initiatives.
4. The added benefits for users with Software Assurance (SA). Customers with SA coverage at the time Windows 10 is released can upgrade on their own schedule, without any time limits, as SA provides the inherent right to upgrade to new versions of Windows that were released during the active SA term. Purchasing a Windows Enterprise Upgrade license with SA also enables:
- VDA rights, as well as the option to purchase the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)
- Re-assignment of Windows licenses
- Extended Hotfix support and 24/7 problem resolution from Microsoft
- Training vouchers and eLearning (varies by program)
- Windows to Go
- Access to Windows Industry and Thin PC
5. What else do I need to know about Windows 10? Microsoft will continue sharing Windows 10 release information on its website, and we’ll continue to address any updates and how they might affect your organization here on the SHI Blog.
In a Windows 10 webcast, Microsoft emphasized that Windows 10 is more than an upgrade — it’s the evolution of Windows as a service. Microsoft’s newest offering represents a commitment to keep users current for the lifetime of their devices, securing all devices, and continually offering additional new features and functionality.
Will you be ready for Windows 10? Planning is key. SHI’s Microsoft Certified Licensing Professionals can assist organizations in assessing your environment and strategizing cost-effective options to procure, license, and deploy Windows 10. Contact your SHI Account team now to learn more about how to prepare for the release of Windows 10.