Microsoft makes FSLogix free to all. What does this mean for the rest of the industry?

Functionality that third-party vendors once competed on will be freely available, allowing (or pushing) them to compete elsewhere.

Last week, there were two important events in the world of desktop virtualization. First, Microsoft announced the public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop. Second, they revealed that FSLogix will be free to essentially all customers that are currently licensed for any form of desktop virtualization, answering the biggest question since Microsoft acquired FSLogix.

This tweet from Microsoft RDS group manager Scott Manchester sums it up:

“Who will be entitled to #FSLogix?  Anyone with an RDS-CAL, RDS-SAL, VDA, or WVD entitlement. Use the full suite for on-prem or in the cloud. #WVD”

Scott also mentioned that you don’t need Software Assurance to use FSLogix with an RDS CAL on premises, either. (You just need SA to run FSLogix with server-based workloads in the cloud.) FSLogix will replace Microsoft User Profile Disks, and UPD will be removed down the line.

Prior to the news, my outlook was guarded, and I assumed that Microsoft would try to use FSLogix as a carrot to get customers on Windows Virtual Desktop or at least on Azure. I’m happy that I was wrong.

There’s widespread agreement that this is good for the industry, and blog posts from James Rankin, Freek Berson, and Bas van Kaam all celebrated the news.

FSLogix and the industry

This is yet another example of the standard Microsoft playbook: Stay out of the fray while other vendors act as the first movers, then later on, decide to build or buy their way in the market. In this case, they really had to buy or build something like FSLogix, in order for Windows Virtual Desktop to work with their flagship Office 365.

Most of the time, this is a customer-friendly move, as functionality that they once had to pay third-parties for becomes free and included. (And as I mentioned above, that’s definitely the case here.)

For some third-party vendors, this could certainly take some getting used to (read: some of them probably weren’t too happy to wake up to the news). But in theory, this frees them up to differentiate in other ways. And in addition, profile management and app management is a big space, and there are a lot of vendors offering functionality and workflows that are different from what FSLogix does.

If you're a larger desktop virtualization vendor with a broader product line, then this is probably good news. All of your customers will be able to have this useful tool for free, so it's more of a "one less thing for us to worry about" situation.

Another point that I think is interesting is that FSLogix Profile and Office Containers may be getting all the attention right now, but since Microsoft is making the whole suite available, a bunch of customers will now be able to use App Masking for the first time. App Masking was the first product when FSLogix came out of stealth, and it remains fairly unique. I’ll be watching to see what Microsoft and customers alike do with this part of the FSLogix suite, as well.

Update

A few people have asked where and when they can get access to the FSLogix bits. On Twitter, FSLogix said to reach out to their sales team and request an evaluation, and FSLogix co-founder Randy Cook said that the new license entitlements will be effective soon, but they don't know the exact date yet.

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