Thursday, November 06, 2008

Simple Little Pocket Guide to Virtual Licensing -- Desktops

Had a great SMB Conference Call with Dave Sobel yesterday on Virtual Environments in the SMB space. It included specific questions and answers regarding SBS 2008, and the all-important Licensing of virtual systems.

[Side Note: iTunes, etc.

You can always download SMB Conference Calls on the SMB Conference Call Page. Click on "View and Browse Previous Calls."

Or you can add the page feed into your RSS reader:

Or connect to us on iTunes. Just look for SMB Conference Call. Any reviews you want to throw up there would be appreciated.

/end Side Note]

Due to the perceived complexity of licensing, I think it is useful to boil it down for you.

Caveats: I don't work for Microsoft. I don't know anything. I'm not responsible for anything. You're responsible for your own actions. Jack Ruby acted alone.

Having said that, I believe the following is true and valid and that you can proceed to make money with the following simple guide to licensing in the virtual environment. I will ask folks at Microsoft to vet this information and I will update the post itself and not just the comments.

- - - - -


Windows Desktop Operating Systems (Windows XP, Windows Vista) are sold as either an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), a full package product (FPP), or as an upgrade license (via open license).

Virtual machines cannot take an OEM license. FPP is really Full Price Product and is too expensive. And the upgrade license won't work if you don't have an existing operating system.

So it appears that there is no way to legally license a virtual machines. WRONG, dog breath.

Long Version of Licensing Discussion

1. Connecting from a PC to a VM

There are two pieces to licensing on the virtual machines (VMs). Interestingly enough, licensing is based on the machine that connects to the VM. We're going to call this the User's Machine.

First, the user's machine must have a valid operating system with Software Assurance. This includes volume licensing with basic SA and open value subscription. How you acquire Software Assurance is not important for this discussion. Just be aware that some form of SA is required.

Second, the user's machine must have a Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) license.

So, the successful combination is:
- Desktop PC or Laptop PC
- Valid Windows Operating System with Software Assurance
- VECD license

For each machine that connects to a Virtual Machine.

NOTE: In all cases, you can use "downgrade rights" to put Windows XP on the VM and on the user's machine.

You can create an essentially unlimited number of virtual machines with various configurations. Each is licensed by having the correct licensing on the user's machine that connects to it.

2. Connecting from a Thin Client to a VM

Life is just a little easier with a Thin Client. Because it won't take a full operating system (XP or Vista), the Thin Client is not required to have Software Assurance.

Therefore, all you need on the Thin Client is a Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) license.

The successful combination is:
- Thin Client with embedded or "ce" license
- VECD license

Note: See the document "Licensing Windows Vista for Use with Virtual Machine Technologies" on the Microsoft Licensing web site. THE page to review, learn, memorize, and love is:

Really good information lives there.

That page is literally a top-ten link for the next two years of your life. Add it to your internal sharepoint and read whatever you find there.

Clip this Pocket Guide to Licensing -- Desktops
  1. VM can be Vista or XP
  2. Licensing is related to the machine you're connecting FROM
  3. When connecting with a PC Desktop or Laptop, the User machine must have Windows O.S. with Software Assurance And VECD license
  4. When connecting with a Thin Client, the Thin Client must have VECD license
Note: VECD and MS Desktop Optimization Kit both include the necessary VECD licenses.

See? That boils down very nicely!


1 comment:

  1. I just want to confirm:

    VDI Licensing requires:

    Windows 7 SPLA License for VM

    Thin Client XPe license

    VECD License without SA

    Thanks for any insight you can give us. :)


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