Windows 8 Enterprise SideLoading Keys

One of the many new things introduced with Windows 8 is the concept of “Enterprise SideLoading”.

While existing “desktop” apps can be deployed in the same fashion as with previous editions of Windows, “Windows Style” apps are published to the Windows Store and then downloaded from there. Microsoft realise that this isn’t the preferred method for organizations with bespoke apps for LOB (Line Of Business), HR etc, software purchased directly from an ISV etc. and so “Enterprise SideLoading” was born. This enables organizations to publish a Windows Style app directly to machines, circumventing the Windows Store, and is available in a couple of different ways.

Software Assurance

Enterprise SideLoading is a Software Assurance (SA) benefit on the following license schemes*:

  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Subscription Agreement
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES)
  • Campus & Schools agreements still running
  • Select Plus with SA
  • Select contracts still running

*Note it is NOT an SA benefit on Open licensing.

meaning customers running Windows 8 Enterprise (obtained via Windows 8 Pro + SA or VDA subscription purchased on the above licensing schemes) can enable this feature on domain joined machines through the “Allow all trusted applications to install” Group Policy setting.

More info on the policy setting can be found here:


Enterprise SideLoading Keys

Organizations who:

  • Choose not to purchase SA on Select/Select Plus & so have Windows 8 Pro
  • Have Windows RT devices
  • Obtain licensing (even with SA) via the Open license programmes

can purchase Enterprise SideLoading license keys in packs of 100, for approximately £2500 RRP…so around £25 per machine.

MAK (Multiple Activation Keys) will be made available via VLSC (Volume License Service Center).

For customers with non-domain joined Windows 8 Enterprise machines, these keys will be made available free of charge.



This will enable smaller organizations, or those who choose not to take SA, to still deploy apps without going through the Windows Store.


  • It should be noted that “Each…Enterprise SideLoading license must be permanently assigned to a single device”.
  • For Academic institutions, Sideloading may only be enabled on institution owned devices
  • This licensing is per device NOT per app.

It appears that the info on this isn’t as widespread as I’d thought so hopefully this will help!

Update: Here’s a link to the “Windows 8 & RT Licensing Document” that gives some info on page 12:

Volume Licensing guide Windows 8 and Windows RT

October Microsoft Product List, page 101 has good info:

October 2012 – Microsoft Product List

9 Replies to “Windows 8 Enterprise SideLoading Keys”

  1. After 35+ years developing software on Microsoft platforms, almost exclusively, this issue has finally pushed me to leave the Microsoft fold. Draconic is putting it mildly.

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