One license on multiple computers for development tools and OS


We assign a laptop and a desktop to our workers. Can 1 license of both windows and developer tools be used on both?


asked Oct 25 '10 at 08:54
Shawn Mclean
220 points
  • There is no way to answer your question in the abstract. Software is licensed by a contract, typically called End User License Agreement, EULA. This EULA differs between applications, so you need to review the licensing terms for the specific software you're using. Even if you say "Microsoft developer tools", you will find that Microsoft has different licensing programs (retail, OEM, MSDN, SPLA etc) as well as different software editions (Home, Pro, Ultimate, Enterprise etc), and that the legal terms differ between licensing programs as well as software editions. – Jesper Mortensen 13 years ago

2 Answers


Windows OS license is definitely per instance - at best that's per machine, but usually it's per VM on each machine. If the OS was acquired from an OEM vendor then it's usually locked to that piece of hardware and can't be ported to another computer if the first dies. This often isn't enforced in the license key itself, but is in the agreements.

Typically Microsoft applications (developer tools, office, etc) are per user - meaning as long as the person is the primary user of the computer (typically 70% or more) then the product can be installed on multiple computers. There may be a limit of three or something. I've been through a few audits and never seen them blink as long as it was clear they were assigned computers to an individual.

That said, if you enter a program like BizSpark then you can generally get all of the licenses you need for any computer owned or operated by the BizSpark entity as well as employees.

answered Oct 25 '10 at 13:15
Kendall Miller
968 points


I am not a lawyer (IANAL), but I believe you should review the end-user license agreement (EULA) for each piece of software to determine if this is allowed. Google 'Microsoft Windows EULA' if you don't have your Windows installation disc/box on hand.

While I have certainly seen software applications that allow what you are looking to achieve (single user (at a time) with multiple installations), it is rare (in my experience). For MS Windows (and pretty much all other Microsoft software), I'm pretty sure it's not allowed (but, again, don't take my word for it... check the license).

answered Oct 25 '10 at 13:23
Chris Hagner
881 points
  • MS Windows is licensed per instance, but some MS consumer appliations are more flexible (MS Office Professional 2007, for example, allows installation on up to 3 computers). As you said, Chris, it's best to look at the individual licenses. We were pleasantly surprised that MS Office Pro could go on 3 of our 5 home computers (bought it expecting I was only upgrading my main workstation but ended up being able to upgrade 2 others as well). – Kelly Rued 13 years ago
  • @KellyRued - actually, as phrased, I don't think you are correct about some MS tools programs. For example, for the MSDN program Windows OSes and tools are NOT per machine if they are used for development. – Tim J 13 years ago

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