Microsoft Readies Volume Licensing Website Overhaul


Microsoft is less than two weeks away from going live with a revamped version of its Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) Web site that partners and customers use to download software and manage software licenses and subscriptions.

Redmond, Wa.-based Microsoft is promising that the overhaul will make the site -- the company's most visited business portal with some 2 million visitors every month -- much easier to use.

"This will make navigating the site much easier," said Susan Cole, senior director of licensing technology for Microsoft worldwide licensing and pricing. "It's a one-stop shop for managing software, licenses and [software] keys."

The site improvements are slated to go live on Aug. 15.

The VLSC is where Microsoft customers – and resellers acting on their behalf – go to view licensing information, download Microsoft software, and manage volume licensing benefits and software subscriptions. Despite its "volume" name, customers and partners who are purchasing as few as five licenses can use the site.

Perhaps the biggest change to the site is that software and software keys can be downloaded from the same page, rather than from separate pages as they do now. The product keys, used when installing software purchased under volume licensing, allow a single product to be used for multiple installations.

About 60 percent of VLSC visitors go to the site to download software and obtain product keys Cole said, and having separate Web pages for those tasks sometimes created confusion when matching keys to purchased software. Downloading both from a single page should eliminate those problems, Cole said.

The new site combines the online services and subscriptions pages into a single subscriptions menu. It also offers better visibility into license grants, which means that users can see what promotional products a customer is entitled to. And the overall look of the user interface has been improved to make navigation easier, according to Cole.

One Microsoft partner, who admitted that he did not have a lot of involvement with the VLSC, said in an e-mail that "the site was down often and customers found it difficult to navigate." But he was optimistic that the changes will improve the site.

Cole said the changes should help reduce customer support costs for partners.

The new site has been running in test mode and more than 1,000 Microsoft customers and partners have been trying it out and offering feedback, Cole said. "What you're going to see Aug. 15 is a result of that feedback," she said.

Other changes to the VLSC site are in the works for the future, according to Cole. Those include making it easier to coordinate administration of software subscriptions with Software Assurance software maintenance plans.

Microsoft is offering more information about the VLSC changes in a blog and on the Microsoft Partner Network portal. The company also will provide a LiveMeeting presentation on the changes, "What's New with the VLSC," on Aug. 11.

Microsoft has been making other changes to its volume licensing program. In March the company debuted the License Mobility through Software Assurance plan that allows volume licensing customers to deploy application server licenses to the cloud without any additional purchase requirements. And last month the company began allowing hosting service providers to enable customers to deploy server application licenses with Software Assurance either on-premise or in the cloud within hosting partners' shared hardware environments.