Microsoft Volume Licensing

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What Does Microsoft Volume Licensing Mean?

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.

Techopedia Explains Microsoft Volume Licensing

Microsoft advises organizations to consider three areas before purchasing Microsoft Volume Licensing:

  • Size and type of organization
  • Products desired
  • How the products will be used

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.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.