Windows 8 Brings New Virtualization Benefits

Hot off the tailwinds of MMS 2012, a new Windows Blog announcement caught our eyes (and ears) today.  I actually have to thank my colleague, Kenny Chan at CDW for bringing this to my attention, because I wasn’t paying attention to MMS at all this week.  I’ll keep it short, since you can read the details on the site, but basically, there are a couple of enhancements being made to Windows Software Assurance:

  1. Windows To Go, which is basically running Windows 8 on a USB drive, is now available to both personal devices as well as work devices as long as the user’s primary device has SA on it.  And the key point here is that even if you bring in your personal device to work, it still counts (yeah!).
  2. Windows RT VDA Rights, which is Windows 8 running on ARM tablets, can now access VDI sessions assuming the user’s primary device is covered user SA.  In other words, if Bob, your end-user has a desktop/laptop covered under SA at work, he can now use his Windows RT Tablet to access those VDI sessions.  It is a huge bummer that it only covers ‘Windows’ tablets; I’m guessing that will change to include iOS and Android at some point in the future.
  3. Companion Device License – this is a new ‘add-on’ (AKA additional cost) to allow the user, who has SA on their primary endpoint, to connect into their VDI sessions from up to 4 personal devices.  The assumption here is that ‘where’ the connection is made – work or home doesn’t matter anymore.

So the best way to explain this, is to whiteboard this out.  You may see a pattern here, but maybe not.  Bob is the employee who has a Windows 8 Desktop licensed with SA.  As you can see in the diagram below, because he has SA on his primary device, he can use his Windows RT tablet to access his VDI sessions in the data center.  This is a benefit of SA, no big surprise.

Just like before, because of SA, Bob can go home and use his iMac and other devices to access his VDI sessions, as long as those devices don’t make its way back onto company premises.  However, let’s assume Bob also has CDL now added to SA on his primary device; this now allows him to bring in up to 4 of his personal devices while at work, and use them to access his VDI sessions.  So now Bob has more flexibility in bringing his own devices in and allowing his company to stay compliant.

Are these big changes for Microsoft?  Well, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, with BYOD gaining steam worldwide.  Like everything else, some will question whether these changes are ‘enough’ but like everything else, we have to wait to see how this evolves.  This is definitely a good thing.

Nathan