Ok, i’ll keep this one simple and straightforward. There is only one licensing model to access a virtualized/hosted Windows 7 desktop, and that’s called Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access (VDA). VDA has been around for a few years now (previously VECD), and here’s how it works.
- VDA is only available as a subscription model, and is about $100/device/year depending on your licensing tier.
- VDA is also available at no additional cost if your device has active Software Assurance.
- VDA also has Extended Roaming Rights (ERR) for the operating system, which allows the primary end point’s user to use a personally-owned device, such as a home computer or an iPad etc. to access that virtual desktop, as long as that device isn’t running on the organization’s or an affiliate’s network. Just so you didn’t miss that one, which is critical for compliance reasons; ERR does not allow you to bring in a personal device and use your virtual desktop in the office, its only allowed when you are not on company property.
The clarification of how this works is done best by using an example. Bob works in the Finance department at a large company. He has a company-issued Windows 7 desktop computer with Office 2010, as well as an older notebook which runs Windows XP and Office 2003. He has also been given a new iPad which was customized by the IT department. IT has recently deployed a VMware View desktop solution, which enables Bob to get to a new virtual desktop and all his applications, from any device. The goal of this VMware View system is to unify Bob’s technology experience across his desktop, notebook and iPad, so he always has a common Windows 7 virtual desktop with all his data and apps.
The IT department has active Software Assurance (SA) on all its devices, including Office. Since Bob’s desktop and notebook both have active SA, they are licensed properly to access his new virtual desktop, including all his Office Applications. However, since the iPad doesn’t have an OEM Windows operating system or SA, the IT department will need to purchase additional VDA licensing for that device. In fact, they will also need to purchase an additional Office 2010 license for that iPad if Bob plans to open and edit Excel spreadsheets while connecting with VMware View. The key point here is that the device is actually a corporate asset, so it needs to be licensed like any other device that needs to access Windows 7 and Office. Now, since Bob’s desktop is his primary device that has SA on it, he is also entitled to go home and use his personal iPad or PC to access his virtual desktop, provided that he is not bringing these devices physically onto the corporate network or an affiliate’s office.
Believe it or not, the above example is actually pretty simple. But what if Bob’s IT department didn’t have SA on anything? If that were the case, in order for Bob to access his new virtual desktop using his desktop, notebook or iPad, IT would need to purchase three VDA licenses as well as three Office licenses. And if he needed to access his virtual desktop from a personal computer or tablet while at home, SA would be needed on one of those Office licenses.
Are we having fun yet? And you wonder why Client Virtualization adoption is stalling? There’s one of the reason’s why. In the interest of being simple and realistic, here is some advice:
- Don’t try and beat the system. Avoid buying OEM licenses in bulk or doing Data Center Edition desktops with a Windows 7 skin. If you need full Windows 7, VDA is the only way to go.
- Talk to your reseller’s Microsoft Licensing team. These rules change all the time and they are always current on the latest and greatest compliance rules.
- If you find yourself struggling with the TCO and ROI aspect of deploying a Virtual Desktop solution, there is nothing wrong with deploying a regular desktop/notebook solution. Windows 7/8 on a pc/notebook isn’t going away anytime soon and if designed and managed correctly, can be a rock solid solution for your organization.
- After you figure it all out, run your licensing scenario by another licensing specialist. It never hurts to double-check your work.