Microsoft VLSC N-2 Media Downloads


Microsoft’s VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Center) is the central portal for volume licensing customers to manage and download licence keys and media.

Microsoft’s Volume Licences all include “Downgrade Rights” which let you run previous version of the software, for instance:

Buy Windows 7, install XP or Buy Office 2010, install 2007

However, Microsoft have only ever provided the media for 1 previous version AKA N-1 so:

Windows 7 = Vista

Office 2010 = Office 2007

Exchange 2010 = Exchange 2003

If you needed to downgrade further than that, you were required to provide your own media…usually from a previous install.

That being said, Microsoft are now changing that!

From July 2010, VLSC users have been able to access:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003 R2

and from September 2010, the following N-2 downloads will be made available:

  • Office 2003
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Exchange Server 2003

This will make it easier for organizations who still need to run these older versions.

(via Eric Ligman)

Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD)


Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD) is a unique way to licence Windows OS on virtual machines (VM’s) as part of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

The desktop OS (Operating System) images are held on a server and users access them via PC or Thin Clients*. You can have an unlimited number of OS instances on the server, these can be Vista or downgraded to XP, it is licensed by Device and you can have 4 virtual instances per access device at a time.

VECD is priced on a per device per month basis (so 100 users = 1200 units x price) for a minimum of 1 year.

A link to the Microsoft page which includes various datasheets can be found here.

Running Virtual Instances on the desktop is becoming more and more common and, of course, poses it’s own problems when it comes to licensing. You must have a separate OS licence for each VM as well as the OS licence for the physical machine.

If VECD isn’t an option for whatever reason, you can run OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)/FPP (Full Packaged Product) inside the VM to give you the OS licences. However if your corporate standard is still XP (as it is with many companies) it gets a bit trickier! You won’t find an OEM or FPP copy of XP now so you will have to start with Vista and downgrade to XP:

1) Buy a volume licence for Vista= NO. The Desktop OS volume licence is UPGRADE ONLY and as a VM is a clean machine, yo’re not eligible to install an upgrade.

2) Buy an OEM Vista licence= NO. Although OEM licences of Vista Business/Ultimate give downgrade rights, you’re not eligible for OEM licensing as they’re not being installed on a “new” physical machine.

3) Buy an FPP copy of Vista and enrol it in to Software Assurance (SA)= YES. Enrolling an FPP licence into SA** grants you Downgrade Rights, so you can take Vista down to XP and it’s a full copy so you can install it in a new clean VM.

* PC’s MUST be covered with Software Assurance (SA) to be eligible for VECD.

**You have a time limit to enrol the FPP copies into SA. 90 days for Open Licensing, 30 days for Open Value/Select/Enterprise Agreements.

Downgrade MS Vista to XP


“How do I downgrade MS Vista to XP” is a question I hear quite often at work (although less recently so it looks like Vista is gaining ground!), so I thought I’d make a quick post on how it’s done.

Can I downgrade?

In most cases yes. All Microsoft volume licenses include “Downgrade Rights” as do the OEM licences for Vista Business & Vista Ultimate. The Downgrade Chart can be found here. Vista Business & Ultimate can only be downgraded to XP Pro, XP Pro 64-bit or XP Pro Tablet…NOT Windows 2000.

How do I downgrade?

You can use any XP Media and also any previous XP Pro licence key (VLK), even one that has been used before. This prevents you from activating online so you’ll need to call the Product Activation Centre, you can get the number by selecting the “Activate by Phone” option in the installation wizard or call 0800 018 8354 and 0870 2411963 if you’re in the UK. Once they confirm you have a valid XP key, you will get a new Vista key.

Can I re-install Vista later?

Yes you can. You will need to remove the XP installation and use the original OEM Vista media.

Office 2003 MUI Packs


Office 2003 MUI Packs can be nearly as tricky to pin down as those for Vista.

Now with Office 2007, you need to purchase the Office Multi Language Pack via Volume Licensing (around £75).

If you need to downgrade to Office 2003, then you are entitled to downgrade the MUI pack too.

Backup Exec 12.5 Compatibility


Backup Exec 12.5 is released within the next few weeks and for those of you considering an upgrade, I’ve gathered together some information that will hopefully make your decision easier.

Licensing Downgrades:

Can I use a previous version? If so what version? The curretn downgrade rights allow you to downgrade from V12.5 back to 11d. If you need to add new servers/agents/options to an older environment you will have to upgrade to V12.5.

If you purchase your licences with support, that will give you Version Upgrade Protection, enabling y ou to always keep up to date with new releases.

Backwards Compatibilty:

  • As has been the case before, the new features of V12.5 will not work if the agent is put in to an older environment (12, 11d etc)
  • Backup Exec 12.5 media server will work with 11d and v12 agents.
  • Backup Exec 12.5 Central Admin Server Option (CASO) will manage V12 servers, but not 11d or before.
  • Backup Exec 12.5 Media Server is compatible with Netware 9.2 Remote agents.

What Windows operating systems are supported in Backup Exec 12.5 and BESR 8.5?:
• Microsoft Windows Server 2008
• Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server 2008
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 family (SP1)
• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 family
• Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003.(SP1)
• Microsoft Windows 2000 Server family.(SP4, Update Rollup 1
for Windows SP4) (SP4 is the minimum requirement for support
of SQL Express 2005)
• Windows Small Business Server 2000, 2003, and 2008

What virtual environments are supported in Backup Exec 12.5 and BESR 8.5?:
• VMware ESX Server 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5
• VMware Infrastructure 3 (replacement/rename for ESX Server)
• VMware Server 1.0 (replacement/rename for GSX Server)
• VMware GSX Server 3.1 and 3.2
• Microsoft Hyper-V
• Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

For those of you out there that are running Linux servers, the Remote Media Server Agent for Linux should be of interest. This means you can now add direct attached storage (DAS) to your remote Linux servers (the agent include a Linux Remote Agent too).

Microsoft Small Business Server 2008: As you may know,  SBS 2008 is now licensed by Microsoft to include a 2nd “Member Server” that can be used as part of the SBS 2008 Premium family to host SBS-included applications such as SQL 2008, Exchange, or SharePoint. Backup Exec 12.5 Small Business Server Premium will now include, at no charge, an Agent for Windows System (AWS) for customers who may want to protect this second sever as well.

What versions can I upgrade from?:

This is often the trickiest part of moving to a new version of software, if your current environment isn’t 100% standardised on one version.

From a technical standpoint, versions 11d & 12 can be directly upgraded to 12.5, while any previous versions must be un-installed prior to 12.5 installation.

From a licensing standpoint, you are still eligible to upgrade ANY previous version of Backup Exec.