Useful tips when getting Windows 10 and Office 2019 for on-premises use

Let’s first take a look at Microsoft’s Operating System Windows 10 and get some more insight into the software. Windows 10 has various editions which is the Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise. The functionality these editions offer increases from Windows 10 Home to the Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise offering a wider variety of features. 

A home user is likely to choose between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. A business user could opt for either Windows 10 Pro or the Windows 10 Enterprise edition. 

Home users of the Windows software will typically acquire Windows 10 pre-installed on a PC through the Original Equipment Manufacturer channel, and a business user may choose that for the Windows 10 Pro Edition. A business user may use a Volume Licensing Agreement to acquire the software. This is actually the only way the Enterprise edition may be bought.  

Key information about the various Windows 10 editions and functionalities

Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro have the ability to join a domain for business networking and bit locker for disk encryption. The Windows 10 Enterprise Edition has more features that include performance, manageability and security making it a good choice for businesses. It is the latest version of the Windows editions that is currently available.  

Windows 10 is acquired pre-installed on a new computer when purchased through an Original Equipment Manufacturer channel (OEM). This means that the software stays on the machine until the end of its life. The Windows software pre-installed on it is licensed for Windows 10 as a full version. However, it may not be transferred to another machine. It is permanently attached to the device it was sold with. It’s also worth knowing that if the motherboard of the device is changed, it is deemed to be a new machine and a new license would be required.  

Downgrade Rights, Features and Security Updates when Using Windows 10

Downgrade rights are only available if licenses are purchased through a Volume Licensing Agreement.  Windows 10’s operating system continues to get feature updates and you, as a user will not need the introduction of Windows 11 to get new features. 

But what if you want to buy a new license for a device, and you need to install an earlier version of the software? Well, this is known as exercising downgrade rights. If you buy Windows through the OEM channel, you have limited downgrade rights. These rights change depending on how the licenses are purchased. If you bought Windows 10 Pro today for example, you could downgrade to either Windows 8 or 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Professional. 

There are two main types of software updates users are exposed to with Windows 10. These are the Feature Updates and Security Updates. Security Updates work on a monthly basis, but the Feature Updates are saved for a couple of years until a new version is due. These are delivered to users a few times a year and it is the servicing channel that controls how frequently devices are updated with the new features. 

There are two feature update channels for which you can sign up for updates. The first is the Semi-Annual Channel where new functionality is provided twice a year. Organizations can defer feature updates, but each feature update released is only supported for 18 months from the time of its release, and then a customer must change to a newer release. This channel applies to the Windows 10 Home Pro and Enterprise Editions. 

The second channel is the Long-Term Servicing Channel. This is where new functionality is provided by a new feature released every 2 to 3 years. This is designed to be used only for specialized devices which typically do not run Microsoft Office. Examples of these devices could be those that control medical equipment or ATMs. This is a special version of the Enterprise Edition of Windows 10 called Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019. The Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 is only available through Volume Licensing Agreements. Customers who have Windows 10 Enterprise licenses can choose to deploy this edition if they need to. 

How Volume Licensing Agreement and Activation Works on Windows 10

Volume licensing gives the greatest flexibility in downgrade rights as this is one of the benefits of purchasing licenses through a Microsoft Volume Licensing Program. If a customer has a license for Windows 10 Pro, they can install the equivalent edition to the Pro Edition all the way back to Windows 95. 

Customers can acquire both Pro and Enterprise Editions through the Volume Licensing Agreements. The licenses that are purchased through these Volume Licensing Agreements are upgrade licenses only, meaning a qualifying underlying operating system already on a device before volume licensing can be assigned to it if needed.  

Let’s talk about the concept of product activation as a customer purchasing Windows licenses. Product activation is technology that ensures that software is only installed on devices for which it is licensed. Every copy of Windows 10 must be activated with a valid Product Key.  

For OEM software, the activation can be done either via the internet or over the telephone. Also, the system builder may activate the software before the computer is delivered to the customer.  

But what about activation for licenses acquired through a Volume Licensing Agreement? An I.T. professional doesn’t usually have the time to activate each copy of Windows manually, so there is a different process for activating this software, and it’s called Volume Activation. This works well for most organizations. 

The Multiple Activation Key or MAK activates products on a one-time basis using Microsoft’s hosted activation services. The Key Management Service, or CMS, allows organizations to activate products using their own network. Using this method, Windows needs to be reactivated against the internal server every 180 days. Alternatively, Active Directory Based Activation can be implemented as a role service, where devices are activated automatically and transparently and will stay activated as long as they remain members of the domain.  

There is also License Reassignment. That’s the right to install the software on one device and then to uninstall and use the software on another device. If you buy the software pre-installed, then you can’t do this. Buying with the volume licensing agreements, restricts you to reinstall or reassign the software once every 90 days. 

Understanding Office 2019, Licensing and Software Assurance

For Office 2019 there are variety of editions purchased either through the OEM channel or as a boxed product known as a full package product or PHP or again through a volume licensing agreement. Office is a single license for a variety of products and the different editions of Office contain rights to install different products. 

Office 2019 is licensed by device and the rules for Office purchased pre-installed on a computer via the OEM channel, are the same as for Windows 10. 

The Office software lives and dies on the device it is installed on. The licenses owned by a customer are perpetual licenses. The customer owns the license forever but can only ever use that version of the product. If a newer version of Office is released, then they are not entitled to use it.  

Office is licensed with the device Licensing Model. Office is a collection of products but cannot be installed differently across devices. A customer who purchases a single Office Professional Plus licensed for a device cannot select different products in the collection to share across devices. Office is a suite license, and that means that a single license is assigned to a device and the components must be installed on that device.  

What Software Assurance Adds to An Office 2019 Software

It gives the software new version rights. When the newer version of Office is released while a customer’s software assurance is active, they are entitled to use that version of Office if they’d like to. This means that if a customer originally purchased Office Standard with SA but then wants to move to Office Professional Plus, they can do so without having to purchase brand new Office Professional Plus licenses. 

The Professional Edition purchased through the OEM channel allows a customer to add Software Assurance. It has to be added within 90 days of the OEM purchase and the rights are to Office Standard within Volume Licensing. Also, when a customer has software assurance, they can choose to buy a step-up license to move from the Standard to Professional Plus Edition if that is what they actually need. It is worth noting that most usage rights are available when you purchase Office through a Volume Licensing Agreement. 

Would you like more advice on Windows 10 and Office 2019 as well as software licenses, negotiations, cloud optimization, audits, reviews or compliance claims?  

As an independent licensing company offering expert advisory services, we combine knowledge of the software and licensing market to help you resolve licensing issues and save on your Microsoft purchases. Q-Advise also carries out cost reduction actions. Contact our experts at Q-Advise. 

Contact us and talk to an independent Microsoft expert.