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Microsoft Licensing in the Cloud: Why Our Users Don't Stress About It

You need to have a software license to be able to access a hosted Windows desktop or hosted Microsoft Office. In this article we’ll explain what a software license is and how to get one, but we’ll also get into why Iron Orbit users don’t necessarily need to purchase licenses for these Microsoft products.

For example, if you already possess all of the appropriate licenses for the hosted versions of your Microsoft products, Iron Orbit can transfer or "migrate" these licenses so that they apply to your Iron Orbit-hosted product, and you won't be forced to re-purchase them.

A software license is what gives you the right to install and/or use an operating system (like Microsoft Windows) or application (like Microsoft Word or Intuit QuickBooks). Software licenses are necessary, of course, because unlike hardware software can be freely duplicated; if it weren’t for licenses, someone could just buy an operating system or application once and then install it on an infinite number of devices, as well as make copies of the installation file or disc to give to anyone else.

When you purchase a consumer version of Microsoft software, the software license is usually included; in fact, the license is usually what you’re buying, not the software installation file that you download at the time of purchase (you can probably find this installation file for free on the vendor or developer’s site and download it as many times as you want, since it is useless without a license). The website that you purchase the software from will usually mention the terms of the license: for example, that the license allows you to install the software on one PC, on three PCs, on one PC and a mobile device, or that the license is a per-user license (so you can install the software on any device you want, but only the licensed user can legally access it) or a per-device license (so you can install the software on only one device, but any number of users can access the software from that one device, which could be a shared family PC or lab workstation).

Buying Microsoft licenses in bulk for a business is typically a little different from buying software for personal use. Usually, you don’t want to just buy 50 copies (for example) of a consumer version of an operating system or application from a vendor’s website. For one, the licensing terms of consumer editions of software may prohibit you from using them for business purposes. Also, some vendors will give you discounts and extras like free technical support if you buy in bulk from their volume licensing programs. You will probably have to get into contact with someone at the vendor that handles business accounts or volume licensing in order to initiate the bulk purchasing process.

Purchasing Microsoft licenses for hosted desktops and hosted applications can also be a little different from, and also more complicated than, purchasing Microsoft licenses for operating systems and applications that you install directly onto the hard drive of the user’s device. Some Microsoft software licenses include hosting rights, and some require the purchase of an extra hosting license; some put limits on the number and types of devices that you can access the hosted solution from; and some only allow either per-device or per-user licensing. The licensing for hosted versions of Microsoft Windows and Office is especially complicated and restrictive.

Fortunately for Iron Orbit customers, we’re one of the IT hosting companies that procure all of the licenses that our clients will need for their hosted solutions on their behalf, so that they don’t have to deal with the frustrating and time-consuming process of researching and purchasing the appropriate software licenses. You can also contact Iron Orbit if you want to determine if software licenses that you have already paid for can apply or be transferred to our service, to avoid paying for hosting rights that you already possess.