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Microsoft Volume Licensing is a service offered by Microsoft for organizations that require multiple licenses, but not the software media, packaging and documentation supplied with the full packaged product (FPP).
The advantages of Microsoft Volume Licensing include lower price per installation, two- or three-year license agreements and product use rights. An example of product use rights is copying the software for simultaneous use on multiple computers and devices.
Starting with Microsoft Vista and later Windows OSs, VLKs were replaced with multiple activation keys or key management server keys.
Microsoft advises organizations to consider three areas before purchasing Microsoft Volume Licensing:
Microsoft may be able to tailor some of its programs to meet the needs of specific industries, such as schools and universities, manufacturing or government agencies and municipalities.
Typically, a volume license key (VLK) limits the user organization to a fixed number of installations. It also often requires recording the number of installations, keeping the key confidential and possibly even requiring the user organization to be exposed to a software licensing audit to ensure compliance with the terms of the license agreement.
Should the VLK become known outside the user organization, charges of software piracy may follow. Therefore, transfer of VLKs between organizations is not generally allowed. When such transfers are allowed, a formal transfer process is employed requiring the new owner to register with Microsoft. Sometimes software vendors will broker such a formal transfer agreement.