Posted by: kurtsh | March 1, 2007

INFO: How do I get Windows Vista Ultimate deployed to my EA/SA-licensed company?

Here’s an interesting question I got from a customer that’s not really that well documented.

As you know, we have an Enterprise Agreement with fully licensed Windows desktops on Software Assurance, meaning I’m allowed to deploy Windows Vista Enterprise Edition to every machine.  This also means that I can "upgrade" to Windows Vista Ultimate Edition if one of my customer’s needs its special Media Center multimedia capabilities.  (Audio/Video departments, PR divisions, K-12 Education Classrooms, the CEO’s home workstation, etc.)

QUESTION:  How do I go about deploying Windows Vista Ultimate Edition to select machines in our company?  Where do I get the software?  Is there a volume license key (KMS/MAK) for Ultimate Edition for my company and if so where is it?  If there isn’t a volume license key, how do I get individual keys?

This is a darned good question.  Heck if I knew the answer so I went to our licensing folks.  Basically the answer is as such:

    Customers can license Windows Vista Ultimate Edition through their Enterprise Agreement/ Software Assurance agreement at a volume discounted pricing, which of course is much better than buying Retail copies.
    Windows Vista Ultimate Edition does not work with any Enterprise MAK/KMS key.  There is no way to automate the installation for a workstation either:  Each installation must be done manually using an individually unique activation key.
    Because each Ultimate key is obtained individually, you must obtain full Ultimate Edition kits individually to get additional keys.  I was told that in order to get more kits, you are supposed to order them through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Services website which will deliver a full DVD+key kit to whomever is officially responsible for receiving CD/DVD media.  This is arbitrated by the folks that originally established the agreement. 

    I checked the MVLS site however and I didn’t see any way to do this.  In fact, on the SA Benefits page for Windows Vista Ultimate, the MVLS site states that you’re supposed to contact your software reseller (the organization responsible for facilitating the agreement) to order additional kits – which I believe are at cost-of-goods ($some small number) and not the retail price ($420).

So if you’re looking for Ultimate Edition for your company, don’t plan on rolling it out en masse.  It’s not designed for that and you won’t have much fun trying.  Stick with Enterprise and if you need Ultimate on a case by case basis, you can order a DVD+key through your reseller. 


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