Buy Microsoft volume licenses from Mslicence also individually – how does that work?

Mslicence offers Microsoft software programs at a particularly favourable price, which is usually significantly lower than the sales price of other software vendors. In addition, in the Mslicence software shop you will also find program editions that are hardly to be found in regular shops. One reason for our broad and at the same time low-priced offer of Microsoft software is that the licenses offered in each case are components of earlier volume licenses, i.e. they were once part of a license package that only larger companies can purchase through the Microsoft volume license program. The purchase of such a single volume license thus offers you several advantages over a conventional single user license.

Even if one reads in various forums on the web again and again about doubts as to whether the trade with volume licenses is legal, you can be sure that with Mslicence as your partner in the software purchase of these licenses you are guaranteed to be on the safe side of the law. In the following you will find all important information about this:

  • which advantages volume licenses offer not only for companies – but especially also for private users,
  • why trading volume licenses is perfectly legal in the EU, and
  • which advantages you can profit from when buying software from individual volume licenses with Mslicence.

What are Microsoft volume licenses?

When purchasing a Microsoft software license, a buyer can choose between a normal single license (for individuals) or a volume license (for businesses) – this contains at least five such single licenses, but usually a much larger number of them.

Definition of volume license

Strictly speaking, the term “volume license” always means a numerically defined bundle of individual licenses, comparable to a bulk package. However, on the web you often read about “one” volume license in the sense of a single license from a volume, which is actually not correct, but has become common practice in the forums etc. In this respect, the question “Are volume licenses legal?” should actually be correct: “Is it legal to split a volume license and sell or buy the individual licenses it contains? The following explanations try to consider this difference in understanding.

Single license vs. volume license

As a rule, private individuals can only purchase a retail package (Full Packaged Product – FPP) with a single license that entitles them to use the software on their own PC, or, if they purchase a PC, it is already pre-installed as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version and may then only be used on one additional, usually mobile, end device.

On the other hand, companies and institutions with a large number of PC workstations can purchase a larger number of individual software licenses as a package, referred to by Microsoft as a volume license.

There are several advantages for companies purchasing volume licenses: On the one hand, Microsoft grants large discounts, so that a single volume license is significantly cheaper than the corresponding number of individual licenses of the same software.

On the other hand, volume licensing simplifies the installation and administration of this software. The license terms also offer various options for the type of use: companies can generally choose between unlimited use of the software or a temporary lease in the form of a subscription, which can then be extended.

The usual requirement for a volume license agreement is that the company must have at least 250 computers on which the volume license(s) can be used. However, Microsoft also offers opportunities for small businesses and public institutions to use the Volume Licensing Program.

Typical benefits of volume licensing for companies at a glance

  • More favourable discount prices of license bundles (volume licenses) compared to single licenses
  • Easier installation and management of volume licenses
  • Choice between the unlimited purchase of the software or a temporary rental
  • Special terms of use

The Microsoft Volume Licensing System, which we will briefly introduce in the following, regulates the details in individual cases.

Overview of the Microsoft volume licensing system

The Microsoft Volume Licensing System, the full terms of which are contained in the “Microsoft Volume Licensing Product Terms”, governs the requirements and all other terms and conditions that apply to the purchase and use of volume licenses. All purchasers must agree to these terms when purchasing a software license in order to use the software. Elsewhere referred to as the End User License Agreement (EULA), these are called the Microsoft Software License Terms. The End User License Agreement explains what volume licensing programs are, the terms and conditions of purchase, and the benefits they provide.

Sense and purpose of Microsoft volume license programs

Volume licensing of software reduces the cost of acquisition in an organization while simplifying its use on multiple computers.

Since no physical data carriers such as CD-ROMs or DVDs are required for volume licenses, this alone reduces the price compared to a suitably packaged single license. Most importantly, volume licenses include more flexible licensing options as well as the option or obligation of product support.

The corresponding license agreement for the Microsoft volume license program regulates the rights of use for the software, e.g. whether it can be installed and used on more than one end device and for how long. Depending on the license agreement, different agreements apply to the volume licenses.

Structure of Microsoft volume licensing

Microsoft volume licensing programs are generally divided into two main categories, based on the size of a company or the number of PC workstations on which the licensed software is to be used:

  • Organizations with fewer than 250 devices or users
  • Companies with at least 250 end devices or users

Other criteria for selecting the most appropriate Microsoft Volume Licensing program for an organization are the overall size of the organization, the type of software (e.g., for servers or users) to be licensed, and the way it will be used: For example, volume licenses for MS Office have only one type of license, while the corresponding ones for server systems with client access licenses (CALs) have different licensing options: A further distinction is made here between access licenses for users (User CALs) and those for end devices (Device CALs).

Useful life of a volume license

Volume licenses can have different useful lives – usually they are either “perpetual” or “limited in time” according to Microsoft. Temporary licenses are similar to a subscription, which can either expire or be renewed after the contractually agreed term has expired.

Further provisions for Microsoft volume licensing agreements

Depending on the requirements in a company, Microsoft volume license agreements contain further conditions and rights of use. For example, the Standard Open License regulates the activation and management of the volume license and additional rights, especially for smaller companies, for example when agreeing on software assurance:

  • The volume activation is done with a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or with a Key Management Service Key (KMS) to install the software on different end devices.
  • The downgrade right allows you to revert to older versions of the software.
  • The Reimaging Right allows the creation and distribution of an image of the software in question.
  • Depending on the software, virtualization rights are also included.

Furthermore, additional agreements apply depending on the volume license agreement.

Main advantage for single customers when purchasing a single Microsoft volume license

The possibility of splitting a volume license bundle, which originates from the inventory of a larger company, into individual licenses, means that private customers can also benefit from the significantly lower price compared to conventional individual licenses. Since these licenses are then purely purchased versions – and not subscription versions – any previous paid updates or other services such as Software Assurance are also no longer required.

What other advantages does the purchase of software from a volume license offer?

Besides the already mentioned big price advantage when buying such as so-called single volume licenses of the Microsoft Standard – both for first and second buyers – they also offer the advantage to benefit from a much broader software portfolio: Many editions of Microsoft software programs are not normally offered as single licenses at all – neither as purchased nor subscription versions, but are reserved exclusively for volume license customers. Often these editions are characterized by an extended scope of programs, such as the Professional Pro Editions of MS Office, but this also applies to server licenses.

The purchase of such a single volume license from Mslicence is the only way to purchase such an edition as a private person or self-employed person, or even for individual employees of a smaller company whose number is below the minimum size defined in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Program.

Is the purchase of Microsoft volume licenses legal?

Splitting a volume license into individual licenses for resale to individuals is basically perfectly legal. The only condition is that the software license in question has been deleted or uninstalled on the original end device. This is because the exclusive right of distribution of the manufacturer (Microsoft) expires with the first sale. There are a number of binding decisions on this issue, both by the Federal Court of Justice in Germany and by the European Court of Justice, which clearly permit the resale of such licenses derived from former volume licenses:

Court decisions on the sale or purchase of individual volume licenses

Even if some dealers still use the argument that the trade with individual volume licenses from a Volume License Package is illegal, this statement contradicts the valid jurisdiction in Germany and the EU. In several judgments it has been clearly decided that merchants like mslicence may legally offer such split volume licenses for purchase or customers may purchase them. Contract clauses that prohibit the trade with used or volume licenses are therefore basically without legal effect.

In the meantime, Microsoft has also confirmed these judgments and adapted its license terms accordingly: For example, it is no longer necessary to take out the previously required Software Assurance (SA) when purchasing an Enterprise version of a server software that comes from a volume license agreement. This means that such individual licenses can be used without a maintenance contract.

Verdict of principle of the BGH and ECJ on Microsoft volume licenses

In a landmark decision of July 6, 2000, the German Federal Supreme Court (BGH), based on the principle of exhaustion of the German Copyright Act (UrhG), ruled that a software can be legally resold at any time if its producer has sold it for the first time with his consent. The manufacturer thus profits only once from the sale of his product. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) underscored this decision once again in a judgment dated July 3, 2012.

The principle of exhaustion forms the legal basis for trading with volume licenses

The basis for these court decisions is the legal concept of the so-called principle of exhaustion in the German Copyright Act (UrhG). The principle of exhaustion states that property rights which are subject to exhaustion are generally consumed as soon as the protected object has been lawfully put on the market for the first time – i.e. sold. The author therefore no longer has any influence on what the first buyer does with the purchased goods. According to § 69 c No. 3 sentence 2 of the German Copyright Act, the principle of exhaustion also applies to the course of a software.

The principle of exhaustion also applies to the downloading of software

Product keys in a volume license agreement are also subject to the principle of exhaustion. This was clearly emphasised by the Federal Court of Justice in the reasons for the ruling in the so-called UsedSoft III proceedings of 17 July 2013 (file number I ZR 129/08). Thus, the right to distribute software applies not only to the download of the first purchaser, but also to copies made for resale, as is necessary for the splitting of Microsoft volume licenses. This also does not require the consent of Microsoft. Thus, you as a buyer can be sure to do a legally sound business with Wiresoft when buying Microsoft software that originates from a volume license.

Further provisions on trading individual volume licenses in the EU

Within Germany and the EU, Microsoft is bound by German case law and the rulings of the European Court of Justice and therefore cannot object to the resale of a volume license. Conversely, however, this means that different case law may apply outside the EU.

If a company acquires such licenses originating from volume licenses, it is not required to provide evidence of this during an audit, as these licenses were not acquired through a direct contract with Microsoft and therefore the audit clause does not apply.

Buying software from Microsoft volume licenses at mslicence – a sure thing

In the software shop of mslicence you will find a wide range of single user volume licenses for various Microsoft programs – from current Office and Office to Windows operating systems and single user CALs for server licenses.

Your Mslicence advantages when buying a license:

  • Mslicence only offers for purchase such individual licenses originating from volume licenses, which are usable for an unlimited period of time and do not contain any updates with costs.
  • Special editions, which were originally only available through a volume license, are now also available to Mslicence customers.
  • Once purchased, the software can be installed via instant download.
  • In the case of licensing with CALs, such as those required above all for the use of Windows server programs, the purchase of single user licenses makes it possible to license according to the number of users.
  • By offering single licenses for the different systems, the need for CALs or single user licenses can be extended or adjusted at any time.
  • Mslicence offers inexpensive single volume licenses for: Microsoft Server incl. CALs and for MS Office
  • The purchase of Microsoft volume licenses from Mslicence is audit-proof.

If you have further questions about purchasing volume licenses in the Mslicence software shop, please contact us by e-mail, phone or here in the chat.