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Are the 4 Virtual Operating System licenses included in Windows Vista Enterprise also included in Windows Vista Ultimate?

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Are the 4 Virtual Operating System licenses included in Windows Vista Enterprise also included in Windows Vista Ultimate?

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Since the Windows Vista Enterprise Edition was announced as an exclusive benefit to customers with Software Assurance on their Windows desktop operating system licenses, there have been several conversations about the additional benefits included in the Enterprise Edition and how it related to Windows Vista Ultimate. Yesterday a specific question was asked about the four Virtual Operating System licenses included in the Windows Vista Enterprise Edition, so I thought this would be a good item to share broadly in case any of you have this same question.

As you (hopefully) know, if you bring up virtual machines on a device and run desktop operating systems in them, you need to acquire desktop operating system licenses for each of those. A benefit of Windows Vista Enterprise is that it provides the right to run up to four virtual operating systems on the device without having to purchase additional operating system licenses for them. The question was, does Windows Vista Ultimate also include these four virtual operating system licenses as well? Here is the answer:

The 4 virtual O/S licenses are a benefit of Vista Enterprise only since they are a Software Assurance benefit. If you look at the Windows Vista Ultimate EULA (End-User License Agreement) you will see that it only allows for an install on a single device and provides no additional virtual O/S licenses for the machine. If you look in the Volume Licensing Product Use Rights document under the Software Assurance section on page 71, you will see:

"For each license:

* You may run on the licensed device, at any one time:

  • one instance of the software in one physical operating system environment, and
  • up to four instances of the software in virtual operating system environments (only one instance per virtual operating system environment)."

So the 4 virtual O/S licenses are definitely only a Software Assurance benefit included in Windows Vista Enterprise, not a right included in Windows Vista Ultimate by itself.

NOTE: If you have Software Assurance on your Windows Desktop Operating System licenses and qualify for Windows Vista Enterprise Edition, then you could opt to install Windows Vista Ultimate instead and would get the 4 virtual operating system license rights since you do have the Software Assurance benefits.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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