Microsoft Partner Network software licensing benefits FAQ
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  • Microsoft Partner Network software licensing benefits FAQ


  • Frequently asked questions

    If you have questions that have not been addressed here, refer to the Partner Support Community page, or contact your local Regional Service Center.

    Partner Support Community page

    Regional Service Center

  • Licenses
    Can partners share licenses earned between locations?

    Yes. Licenses can be shared.

    For Action Pack subscribers: you can share the licenses granted through your subscription within the subscribing country only. The licenses granted to you are per country and cannot be shared across countries.

    For competency partners: licenses can be shared across countries, but the total number of licenses used within a partner organization cannot exceed the per country or worldwide maximum license cap. Partners can share licenses only within the organization1 that earns these licenses—between the headquarters location and any of its associated locations. These locations must be associated with the headquarters location at the Partner Membership Center to be eligible for this benefit. Partners cannot share licenses across separate organizations.

    1Partner organizations with multiple office locations can enroll in the network with each location as a single organization, as headquarters with multiple locations, or as a combination of these. If these locations or organizations are part of the same company conducting the same business (for example, developing and selling the same products and services), Microsoft Partner Network will view these locations as a single partner entity for the purposes of license grants and maximum grant limits.

    Does the Microsoft Partner Network grant downgrade rights?

    No. The Microsoft Partner Network does not offer downgrade rights. You have 12 months to upgrade from the previous version of software offered by the Microsoft Partner Network to the latest version. Refer to the software updates table for details. Note: this downgrade policy does not apply to commercial training licenses granted to partners with the Learning competency and MSDN benefits received as part of the Microsoft Partner Network.

    Software Updates table

    How can my organization qualify to purchase an Additional Benefit Toolkit, and what additional benefits will my organization receive?

    Partners may purchase an Additional Benefit Toolkit for any qualifying location linked to the organization’s headquarters. Additional Benefit Toolkits are available to locations that attain at least one competency (specific to that location), and are intended to provide additional silver or gold competency benefits to the qualifying location, including IUR licenses, MSDN subscriptions, and Technical Presales and Advisory Services. Each qualifying location can obtain only one set of core benefits and receive IUR licenses related to the specific competency it has earned. These additional IUR and MSDN licenses are bound to the maximum country or worldwide license grants listed on the Microsoft Competency License table. Demonstration and training licenses are not bound to maximum grants. Note that the headquarters location is not eligible to purchase an Additional Benefit Toolkit; only associated, qualified locations can purchase Additional Benefit Toolkits.

    Microsoft Competency License table

    Are there different terms of use for MSDN subscriptions granted through the Microsoft Partner Network and those purchased through retailers or Volume Licensing specialists?

    Yes. The MSDN subscriptions granted to your organization through the Microsoft Partner Network have different use rights than those purchased through retailers or Microsoft Volume Licensing specialists. For instance, the MSDN subscriptions cannot be used by partners for client specific solutions because this is a direct-revenue generating activity. For complete details, refer to the overview on the MSDN page or the Product Usage Guide.

    MSDN page

    Product Usage Guide

    Are the Windows client licenses granted through the Microsoft Partner Network full licenses?

    No. The Windows client licenses granted through the Microsoft Partner Network are upgrade licenses only. To apply these usage licenses to computers within your environment, each of the computers must have a preexisting, qualifying operating system license (that is, a license for Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 8 Pro).

    Note: home editions are not considered a qualified operating system and are not eligible for a Windows 8 or 8.1 Enterprise upgrade license through the Microsoft Partner Network. The software licenses provided are for your organization’s internal installation only, and cannot be installed on any other computer outside your organization on either a permanent or a temporary basis. The product keys and the software bits provisioned through this program will allow for a clean or custom install of the software, thus providing the opportunity to customize the installation to suit your needs.

  • Product keys and tokens
    Which products require product activation? What do I need to know about product activation?

    Product activation is required for Windows Server and client operating systems and all Microsoft Office client applications. Product keys for these products are issued with a finite number of activations.

    The way that product activation keys are consumed is different for Action Pack subscribers and competency partners.

    For Action Pack subscribers, the product activation keys are consumed based on scenario:

    • If the software is installed on a new or different machine, a product activation is consumed against the product key.
    • If the software is installed on the same machine, with no changes made to the hardware, a product activation is not consumed against the product key.
    • If the software is installed on the same machine, with changes made to the hardware, a product activation is consumed against the product key.

    For competency partners, each time a machine is activated, one of the product activations for that particular product key is consumed; this includes situations in which the same machine is reimaged and activated. For this reason, the number of licenses your organization is entitled to and the number of activations it has been assigned are not the same. You should not activate learning, development lab, and demonstration computers that are frequently reimaged. Instead, for these computers, you should use the initial grace periods combined with the rearm functionality. For specific details, refer to the Partner Volume Activation Guide. If you have questions about the product keys you have been issued by the Microsoft Partner Network, contact your local Regional Service Center.

    Partner Volume Activation Guide

    Regional Service Center

    How can my organization obtain a Key Management Service product key?

    Key Management Service (KMS) keys are limited to Microsoft Volume Licensing customers and are not issued through the Microsoft Partner Network. There are no exceptions to this policy. If your organization has access to a KMS key through a Volume Licensing agreement, you can use your KMS keys for licenses granted through the Microsoft Partner Network. You can use any combination of methods and keys that you have acquired through various Microsoft programs to activate machines, depending on your business and infrastructure needs, as long as the systems are properly licensed and appropriate use rights are applied.

    What is the difference between a product key and a token?

    Product keys are used during the installation or activation process for software, and tokens are used to redeem cloud services. Both product keys and tokens have a unique series of 25 characters consisting of five sets of five alphanumeric characters; this is also referred to as a “5X5 product key”.

    Do my tokens for Cloud services need to be redeemed within a specific time period?

    Your cloud services entitlement terminates at the conclusion of your program enrollment year. You can continue to have access to your cloud services benefits past your program enrollment end date, but you will no longer have use rights through the program. During the program year, your organization will be issued additional tokens as you qualify for more seats. A new set of tokens will be issued when you renew your subscription or program membership each year. If you do not renew your membership, you must purchase the cloud services through Volume License.

  • Cloud services
    My organization has purchased Microsoft Office 365 seats outside of the Microsoft Partner Network. Can I use the purchased seats on the same tenant with the E3 seats I have earned through the Microsoft Partner Network?

    Yes. If the other Office 365 seats are enterprise (E) or kiosk (K) SKUs. Other SKUs cannot be used on the same tenant.

    My organization’s needs have changed and I want to switch some of my users to Office 365 who are currently using on-premises licenses (Microsoft Office Pro Plus, Microsoft SharePoint Server client access licenses [CALs], Microsoft Lync Server CALs, Microsoft Exchange Server CALs). What do I need to do to ensure my organization is in compliance?

    Your organization can switch users between on-premises and Office 365 at any time during the subscription or program year, as long as you do not exceed your license entitlement. You can also purchase the required CALs or online seats to fulfill your organization’s needs. For complete details, refer to the Product Usage Guide.

    Product Usage Guide

    What is a Microsoft Organization Account?

    A Microsoft Organization Account (also referred to as a Microsoft Account for Organizations) is specific to accessing Microsoft cloud services for your organization. The first time your organization signs up for a Microsoft cloud service such as Microsoft Azure Active Directory, Office 365, or Windows Intune, or signs up for Microsoft Azure as an organization, you are prompted to provide details about your organization and your organization’s Internet domain name registration. This process will create an Organization Account. After you have signed up for your first service, Microsoft recommends that you continue using the same tenant administrator account associated with your organization that you received when signing up.