Microsoft’s licensing rules are notoriously difficult to understand, particularly when you are talking about virtual desktop environments. There are different rules for running Windows on a virtual desktop than on a physical PC, and those rules have caveats depending on the type of device.
Software Assurance (SA) customers, for example, get to run virtual desktops at a lower cost than non-SA customers as part of their enterprise licensing agreement. However, IT shops running thin clients need to buy a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license. Microsoft licensing also prohibits virtualizing Internet Explorer, but application virtualization tools -- including Microsoft App-V -- can technically virtualize it. And client hypervisors add another kink in the chain with different requirements as well.
In this guide, we help you understand
Companies will now have to purchase a Companion Device License for each end user device that connects to a virtual desktop in the office. This could add costs for many organizations, but you could get around that requirement by using Windows on ARM.
By making virtual desktop licensing expensive, Microsoft prevents customers from lowering desktop management and Windows upgrade costs, while protecting its Windows profitability.
Finding a reasonably priced way to license Windows virtual desktops can be difficult. Here are some tips on how to go about licensing without overspending.
Microsoft insists on licensing its desktop OSes only for physical devices. The company generally pushes customers toward the virtualization benefits they can get through Software Assurance (SA). Find out about options you may not know about and ways to bypass SA's requirements.
Windows ThinPC (WinTPC)is a stripped-down version of Windows 7 that runs on old Windows XP machines that don't have the memory or CPU resources to support a full Windows 7 version. But it isn’t for thin clients and it has limitations.
In this article on running virtual desktops using client hypervisors, vendors say running Windows on a bare-metal client hypervisor costs less than with VDI because the OS runs directly on hardware. But there are licensing stipulations IT pros need to be aware of.
When you understand Microsoft's licensing policies, the so-called "Microsoft tax" disappears and the company's "virtualization discount" becomes available.
Microsoft doesn't support IE6 virtualization, but some IT shops violate their End User License Agreements to run virtual Internet Explorer because the benefits outweigh the risk.
It's still illegal to use application virtualization to run Internet Explorer 6 apps on Windows 7, but new software skirts Microsoft's rules and runs IE6 apps in IE8 browsers.
How do you license applications running in a virtual machine or in a Terminal Services (TS) session? Some users assume that once they license Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to run an application like Office, they're home free. Or they think that because they've licensed Office on their work computers, they have a right to access it remotely. But it isn't that simple.
The release of Office 365 will bring many changes to Microsoft's premiere volume licensing agreement, including a more diverse application selection and Office subscriptions.
IT shops that upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 will get a bonus from Microsoft. The software vendor will include its application streaming technology in the license for free. However, this license change only allows use of App-V on a Remote Desktop Session host server.
Microsoft updated its VDI licensing for the bring your own device (BYOD) era, but the new Companion Device License could add costs for companies that already had to purchase Software Assurance.
IT shops with Software Assurance will find virtual desktop licensing more affordable, thanks to changes in Microsoft licensing. Now, Microsoft SA customers don't have to buy a separate license to access Windows in a VDI environment.
Microsoft activated its latest virtual desktop licensing plan on July 1, 2010. Non-SA customers will have to buy a Virtual Desktop Assurance (VDA) license, while SA customers don't have to purchase a separate license.
Microsoft won't support virtualizing IE, even with its own App-V tool. Read about how they stopped one application virtualization company from offering IE on the Web.
Microsoft prohibits virtualizing Internet Explorer, but is the company reading its own application virtualization rules correctly?
If a Hyper-V client and MinWin, a stripped-down version of Windows that consists of only the basic components of the operating system, appear in Windows 8, they could resolve Microsoft's argument against licensing virtualized Internet Explorer.
This was first published in July 2011