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Big Windows Server users get prepaid Amazon fluffing

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Windows server customers who've bought in bulk can now use their licenses to effectively access prepaid computing power in Amazon's Web Services cloud.

The online toaster warehouse has struck an agreement with Microsoft so business customers can use their existing Enterprise Agreements with the software giant to activate Amazon EC2 instances for up to a year. EAs are bought by customers with more than 250 PCs to get volume discounts among other benefits from Microsoft.

To access the new service, Microsoft customers simply complete a Windows License Mobility form, which Amazon will verify. The program is a pilot, and enrolment lasts until September 23 2010. There was no word on when the pilot ends.

The pilot means Windows server customers turning to AWS can save money, as they won't need to pay Amazon to spin up Windows-based AWS instances. Instead, they can transfer the existing server licenses that they've paid Microsoft for - meaning prepaid cloud-computing power.

Amazon offers AWS hosting on Windows Server 2003 and more recently Windows Server 2008, in addition to hosting on Unix with customers getting the option to reserve instances or buy instance on the fly. Amazon charges more for its Windows instances than those based on Unix, which is believed due to the Windows license agreement with Microsoft with Amazon passing the cost to the customer.

Amazon said in a blog here that larger Windows server customers using AWS hosted on its Windows server "often tell us that they've already set up an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft, and ask if it can be applied to EC2 instances. As of today, the answer is now a conditional (yet still enthusiastic) - 'Yes!'"

The Windows License Mobility pilot applies to Enterprise Agreement Windows Server Standard, Windows Server Enterprise and Windows Server Datacenter Edition. You can spin up one instance per Windows Server Standard license, and up to four EC2 instances for each Windows Server Enterprise or Windows Server Datacenter license.

There are a couple of restrictions, though: you have to be in the US, already have an EA that lasts longer than 12 months, and have purchased Software Assurance. Academic and government institutions are not covered. Also, you can only move your license once every 90 days. ®

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