Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

Some answers and updates on Microsoft Action Pack questions we’ve been hearing

Below is some updated information and answers to some of the more common questions we have been seeing and receiving regarding the Microsoft Action Pack subscription.  As a reminder, you can join Tram Nguyen and me, later today for our “Understanding the latest MAPS Updates” Live Meeting session where we will be addressing your questions and concerns while also providing more information regarding the policies and changes.


Downgrade Rights

We received several communications from our Action Pack subscribers, in which they expressed concerns regarding the removal of Windows XP from the Action Pack and the replacement with Windows Vista. In order to avoid confusion, we would like to clarify the requirements of the agreement.


In accordance with the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) agreement and the program guide, Partners are encouraged (but not required) to upgrade to the most recent version of any product included in the MAPS kit within six months. To the extent you have certain constraints that prevent you from upgrading your systems to Windows Vista, you may keep using your existing product licenses, even if you are renewing your subscription and the product is no longer included in the subscription.


We believe that Windows Vista is an incredible value for your business and your customers’ business, and we truly hope that you will chose to upgrade and experience this new product.


Note: This is not the same as Downgrade Rights.  Action Pack does not have downgrade rights.  This updated policy means that as long as you continue to keep your Action Pack subscription current, you can use prior versions of the software that you have received through Action Pack in the past.  If you did not receive the prior versions in your Action Pack in the past, you cannot use those versions. 


For instance, someone who just subscribed to Action Pack for the first time in January 2007 would have received their first kit, which includes Windows Vista Business Upgrade and Office 2007.  They were not Action Pack subscribers when Windows XP Pro Upgrades were included, so they would not have any rights to Windows XP Pro through Action Pack.  If a Partner did have a pre-existing Action Pack subscription back when the Windows XP Pro Upgrades were included, and they kept their Action Pack subscription current by renewing it, then this Partner would retain the rights to use the Windows XP Pro Upgrade in lieu of the Windows Vista Business Upgrade, if they chose. 


Vista Business vs. Ultimate

We received several questions from our Action Pack subscribers regarding the Windows Vista SKUs and the inclusion of Windows Vista Business in the Microsoft Action Pack.  Further information regarding the Windows Vista offerings is provided below:


·         Windows Vista Business is recommended for a majority of the business customer segment and thus is considered the most appropriate version for Action Pack subscribers to experience.

·         Windows Vista Enterprise is available only to organizations with desktops covered by Software Assurance agreements or with a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that includes the Windows desktop component.  Windows Vista Enterprise includes additional technologies such as: BitLocker, Multi-User Language Interface, rights to (4) Virtual O/S instances on the licensed PC, and additional application compatibility.

·         Windows Vista Ultimate is a consumer and small business edition that is aimed at high-end users, gamers, multimedia professionals and personal computer enthusiasts. Windows Vista Ultimate is available through retail as a packaged product, as a pre-install on a new computer, or via volume licensing to customers as a part of their Software Assurance agreement. Partners can upgrade to the Windows Vista Ultimate for $139 (USD) using a new technology available with Windows Vista called Windows Anytime Upgrade.  This is a per PC upgrade.  (i.e. To upgrade 5 of your Windows Vista Business Upgrade licenses to Windows Vista Ultimates, you would need to purchase (5) Windows Anytime Upgrades).


I have been running Windows Vista RC1. Can I upgrade to Windows Vista Business?

·         Yes, it is possible to upgrade from Windows Vista RC1 to Windows Vista RTM, if you are running the same SKU of the OS.  For example, you can upgrade the RC1 version of Windows Vista Business to the RTM version of Windows Vista Business.  If you are running the RC1 version of a Vista SKU other than Business, you cannot upgrade that machine to the RTM version of Vista Business.  You would need to do a clean installation instead.


Move from full version to upgrade only (for North America and EMEA)

In response to feedback we are received from partners regarding the abuse of the Microsoft Action Pack subscription, Microsoft changed some of the software media available through the subscription.

As of  July 2006,( October 2006 in Western Europe) Microsoft offers only the UPGRADE version of the Windows desktop operating system within Action Pack, which is consistent with how this product is distributed to our Volume Licensing customers. The total number of Windows Upgrade licenses remains at 10.


We continue to evaluate the software benefit included in this subscription in order to ensure it meets the needs of our partners while adding necessary license compliance measures to ensure we are able to continue to offer this valuable benefit for our partners. Please visit the Action Pack web page for additional information.  


NOTE: This change took place back in July, 2006 here in the US.  This is not a recent change, even though some people currently seem to believe this is new for the January edition.


Removal of OEM software

We recently completed a worldwide study of Microsoft Action Pack subscribers to better understand the needs of our subscribers.  OEM software was not prioritized relative to other software benefits and consistently was among the lowest utilization of the software benefits provided.  Thus we removed the OEM software in order to streamline the subscription and enable us to offer new products such as the Windows Server 64B Operating System and Expression.


System builders can purchase System Builder OEM product from an Authorized Microsoft OEM Distributor to evaluate, validate, setup and preinstall.  As long as the software is not activated during the validation and testing process, it is fine to resell it to a customer.


No download option

Currently, MSDN is available as a benefit to Certified and Gold Certified Partners only.  MSDN provides partners with ability to download their partner licensing benefits.  Registered Members have the option of subscribing to the Microsoft Action Pack in order to receive internal use licenses for desktop products. The Microsoft Action Pack is currently a physical kit delivered on a quarterly basis.  Microsoft is currently working with the MSDN team to determine whether online downloads could be used to deliver software benefits to our Registered Members.  We will keep partners informed regarding those efforts but anticipate this will not be a near term option.  Thus, for the foreseeable future Microsoft Action Pack will continue to be the delivery software benefits delivery vehicle for Registered Members


Thank you and have a wonderful day,


Eric Ligman

Microsoft US Senior Manager

Small Business Community Engagement

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights