Microsoft Windows 11 – how about the licensing?

Microsoft Windows 10 launched globally in July 2015 and Microsoft promised that Windows 10 would be the last version of their desktop operating system – because of the always on and always up-to-date architecture. Now, six years later, almost out of the blue Windows 11 is introduced. This is what you need to know about the licensing.

Read time: 3 minutes

The why
According to Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Office for Windows, Windows 11 is designed for our new reality around digitization. During the COVID-19 pandemic all of us redesigned our work and private life and more than ever before the PC plays an important role. So Microsoft threw their promise overboard and redesigned their hero-product.

What’s new?
When you read through all the news articles and blogs, a lot is new. There is this brand new, translucent User Interface, there is a brand new Store (which supports Android Apps, following the Surface Duo) and a new, more open structure. Please visit the Microsoft Window Blog for an overview of all new features.

General licensing
You may be somewhat relieved when you discover that regarding to licensing, not much will change. All PCs licensed for Windows 10 today will be eligible for a free of charge upgrade to Windows 11 when it becomes available. However, the PC must meet minimum requirements to be able to run Windows 11, here you can download the App to find out if yours does.
The upgrade methodology will be the same as we have seen with the fee upgrade from Windows 7 to 10. This means that Software Asset Managers and/or license managers need to do some work in their administration to keep track of performed upgrades (you will not receive proof of free upgrade). But at the same time, according to Microsoft, there is no deadline as there was in the past. This means that customers do not have to upgrade in a hurry.

For new hardware, the Windows 10 OEM license will be replace by a Windows 11 OEM license and coresponding bits-and-bytes install. The licensing mechanism stays the same, price changes not known today.

Volume licensing
When we look at Volume Licensing (Enterprise Agreement, Open Value (Subscription) and the Cloud Solution Provider program as examples), there is an expected change for the LTSC versions.
With Windows 10, Microsoft has a semi-annual-channel update cadence, releasing two new release a year. With Windows 11 they will bring that back to ‘just’ one new release a year. Beside this default update cycle, customer with business critical system could choose the Long Term Servicing Channel version, with updates every 2 to 3 years, which could be postponed to 10 years. Microsoft has not shared any information yet whether if the LTSC version will stay or not (come back regularly to look for updates).

Windows per user
Customers who have bought a Windows 10 Upgrade per device license through their Volume Licensing Agreement will also be eligible for a free-of-charge upgrade to Windows 11. For customer using a ‘per user’ licensing mechanism (such as Windows Enterprise E3 through CSP), not much will change either. Every user licensed for the use of Windows 10 will be eligible to use Windows 11 instead, or alongside Windows 10 as well. This means that a licensed user may use Windows 10 on (example) 2 of their devices and Windows 11 on the other 3 (note: each licensed user in this example is eligible to install and use the Windows desktop operating system on a maximum of 5 devices).

More information
When more detailed information will become available, we will provide updates in our Quexcel knowledge base section of the website. When you want our help with Windows licensing, please do contact one of our licensing experts.

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