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Microsoft still mum on Azure RemoteApp licensing

Months after releasing Azure RemoteApp Service, Microsoft remains quiet on licensing and pricing details. What does this mean for enterprise IT?

Months after Microsoft debuted the Azure RemoteApp Service, licensing and pricing information remain a mystery.

General availability and pricing have yet to be revealed, but IT consultants said Microsoft must deliver a simplified licensing scheme for Azure RemoteApp to succeed.

Businesses will consider Azure RemoteApp Service more than any other Azure service, but it depends on the pricing, said Wes Miller, vice president of research at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash. He said his clients investigate both Amazon Workspaces and Microsoft’s Azure Remote App Service to determine which fits their needs.

Microsoft licensing agreements have always been convoluted. Experts worry that if Microsoft makes licensing and pricing a complex process for the new service, adoption will be slow.  

Licensing [will be] the key to its success,

"Licensing [will be] the key to its success," Miller said.

It is still unclear what happens when a company already owns Microsoft software but now wants to use the cloud-based Azure RemoteApp.

If businesses have a license for Microsoft applications but need a subscription to use the service, it will not help them if they don't get credit for licenses they already own, said Paul De Groot, principal analyst and licensing expert at Pica Communications LLC, headquartered in Camano Island, Wash.  Microsoft may change this, but there needs to be a real break for companies, he added.

Though Microsoft offers no details on pricing and licensing, the existing preview trial is free and currently does not require a service-level agreement. The company said it's had close to 100,000 downloads from unique individuals trying to preview Azure Remote App.

The primary use for an enterprise with a lot of Windows apps is to enable those applications to run on iOS, Windows and Android devices remotely, said Brad Anderson, a Microsoft corporate vice president.

Will BYOD be a problem?

While bring your own device (BYOD) is common in corporations today, some enterprises have tight regulations on how they use software on a device and have strict End User Licensing Agreements.

"Theoretically we can use the apps on the tablets," Miller said. But how would companies license the software, he asked, "if it’s not [running] on [their] hardware or on-premises?"

For Microsoft, it will determine how the company licenses its own applications. However, Microsoft cannot control how third parties license their applications for use with the Azure RemoteApp service.

"Customers are responsible for complying with use rights of the applications they bring onto our service,' said Klaas Langhout, director of program management for Microsoft's remote desktop team.

Separately, Microsoft said it is now shipping the Azure Active Directory Basic. The plan includes a number of features, including user and group management, user and group-based access management and provisioning, self-service password reset for cloud users, and more. Pricing depends on the customer's Enterprise Agreement and can be purchased through the volume licensing channel.

Senior executive editor Ed Scannell contributed to this story.

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