Earlier this year, I received a call from one of my small business clients who wanted to upgrade the operating system on his office computer from Windows Me to Windows XP. After making sure that his computer met the minimum system requirements for the new operating system, we purchased a retail copy of Windows XP Professional Upgrade at the local computer store and installed it on his system. The upgrade installation procedure went off without a hitch and the client was immediately impressed with Windows XP.

A couple of weeks later, I received a call from the same client. He was so impressed with the stability of the Windows XP operating system compared to Windows Me that he wanted to upgrade the other three computers in his small office to Windows XP Professional. Since all the computers were purchased within the same time period, they all met the minimum system requirements, and my client was ready to head out to the computer store to purchase three more Windows XP Professional packages. He wanted to set up a time for me to help him perform the upgrade installations.

I explained to him that he didn’t have to purchase any additional Windows XP packages because by virtue of purchasing a single retail copy of Windows XP Professional Upgrade, he was eligible to take advantage of Microsoft’s little-known Additional License Program. This program is designed for consumers and small businesses and allows you to purchase, at a discounted price, up to three additional licenses for each Windows XP Home or Professional CD that you own. Best of all, you can purchase the additional licenses online and use them immediately. With the additional licenses in hand, you then use your original Windows XP CD to install the operating system on another computer.

Since Microsoft doesn’t widely publicize the Windows XP Additional License Program, not many consultants who work with small businesses are aware that it exists. I’ll introduce you to the Windows XP Additional License Program and explain how you can take advantage of it.

Other licensing deals for small businesses

Most consultants have heard of Microsoft’s other small-business licensing program—Open License 6.0—which allows you to purchase a minimum of five licenses. However, this program is more complex and requires that you go through a Microsoft Licensing Program Reseller to participate. The Open License 6.0 program may be overkill in many situations.

Getting started
To get started, you need to have on hand either the Product Key or the Product ID for a legally purchased copy of Windows XP Home or Professional. You can use either one. You’ll find the Product Key printed on an orange sticker on the back of the Windows XP CD folder. To find the Product ID, access the Start menu, right-click on My Computer, and select Properties. You’ll find the current Product ID under the Registered To heading.

Keeping track of your additional license

While you can use either the Product Key or the Product ID to purchase an additional license, I recommend that you have the Windows XP CD folder on hand when you make your order. Then, when you receive your new Product Key, you can write the number on the orange sticker right below the original. That way, you’ll always know which licenses are associated with that particular CD in case you ever need to reinstall.

Start the ordering procedure
Once you have a Product Key or the Product ID, point your browser to the appropriate page on the Shop Microsoft Web site: Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional. Once you arrive at either of these pages, follow the “Save up to 15% on an additional license!” link. On the qualification page, select one of the radio buttons, supply the appropriate key, and click the Submit button.

If you entered a Product Key that qualifies you for an additional license, you’ll see a confirmation screen. To continue, select United States from the country/region drop-down list and then click the Continue To Online Store button—once it’s active. In a moment, you’ll be taken to the Buy Additional Licenses page on the License Technologies Group Web site.

Handling the transaction

License Technologies Group, a Microsoft partner company, handles the actual purchase and distribution of the additional license. This electronic program is relatively new, having been implemented on December 1, 2002. To learn more about the additional license program and License Technologies Group, you can check out its press release.

To continue with the transaction, click the Buy Now button. You’ll see a second page on which you can specify the number of additional licenses you wish to purchase. As I mentioned, you can purchase a maximum of three additional licenses in this program. When you click the Next button, you’ll be taken to the Billing Info page and will need to fill in the appropriate information. You’ll then see the Check Out page and will need to confirm the information you entered.

Receiving your additional license
As soon as you click the Check Out button, you‘ll see the Order Confirmation screen and will find your new Additional License Key in the center of the page. At this point, go ahead and print this page for your records. Within a few moments, you’ll receive the same information via e-mail. In addition, you’ll find an attached PDF file that contains an electronic certificate, which acts as your official proof of purchase. Print out this page and attach it to the Windows XP CD folder.

Installing your additional license
Installing your additional license is a piece of cake. You simply run the Windows XP installation procedure from the CD as you normally would. When you’re prompted for the Product Key, just enter the key you received with your additional license.

Saving money for the client
In the case of my consulting job, I purchased three additional licenses for the single Windows XP Professional CD that my client already owned. He was happy to save $45 right off the bat and is even happier that he now has four computers in his business running Windows XP Professional. While the savings here may not seem like a lot of money, the fact that I, as a consultant, was able to reduce, rather than increase, the cost of the upgrade operation helped me build the trust of my client. And, as you know, building trust goes a long way in building a successful consulting business.