Archive for October, 2011

Microsoft VDA Licensing Made Simple-ish

October 12, 2011

Let’s face it VDI is hot nowadays, and for many customers it can make managing their desktop infrastructure much easier.  Regardless of which solution you decide on, whether it’s VMware View or Citrix XenDestop there is still one piece of the puzzle that everyone will have to deal with – Microsoft Licensing.  Specifically Microsoft VDA licensing. 

Like most Microsoft licensing plans, Microsoft VDA licensing is anything but clear and easy to understand.  None the less I’m going to try and simplify it as much as I can.  First let’s look at HOW you connect to your virtual desktop.

  • Option 1 – From a Traditional Windows Desktop or Laptop
  • Option 2 – From a Thin Client or Non-Windows OS (this includes iPads, Droids, Blackberry…..)

Now let’s look at WHICH Microsoft licensing options are available.  You MUST have one of these to connect to a virtual desktop.

Option 1 – Microsoft SA (Software Assurance)

  • SA is only available for Windows Desktops and Laptops and is NOT available for Thin Clients
  • In most cases SA can be added to existing workstations/laptops if not already owned.
  • Licensed per DEVICE

Option 2 – Microsoft VDA

  • The VDA license is required for ALL thin clients – regardless of whether it’s Window Embedded or a “Zero” client and ALL non-Windows OS devices (iPads, Droid Tablets, Linux….)
  • Licensed per DEVICE
  • Estimated cost is around $100/per device/per year

Let’s look a few examples to help illustrate how the licensing works.

Example 1:

  • Healthcare environment with 300 nurses working on 3 shifts (100 per shift)
  • 100 Thin Client devices throughout the hospital, all accessing Windows 7 Virtual Desktops provided by VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop that are shared by the 300 nurses
  • Microsoft Licensing Required = 100 VDA Licenses (1 per device)

Example 2:

  • Healthcare environment with 300 nurses working on 3 shifts (100 per shift)
  • 100 Windows XP PC’s throughout the hospital, all accessing Windows 7 Virtual Desktops provided by VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop that are shared by the 300 nurses.  In addition, 50 iPads are also used by the nurses INSIDE the hospital to connect to their Virtual Desktops.
  • Microsoft Licensing Required = 100 SA Licenses (1 per device) AND 50 VDA Licenses (for the iPads)

So, looking at the examples it’s pretty straight forward, and you might be thinking “it can’t be that simple can it?” – No not really.  Now we need to talk about HOME USERS.  Let’s look at some new examples:

Example 3:

  • Office environment with 100 employees
  • 100 Thin Client devices in the office connecting to virtual desktops
  • 50 of the 100 users also OCCASIONALLY work from home using their PERSONAL home PC’s and/or iPads.
  • Microsoft Licensing Required = 100 VDA Licenses for the 100 Thin Clients
    • Because the users are OCCASIONAL home users additional VDA licenses are NOT required

Example 4:

  • Office environment with 100 employees
  • 50 employees work in the office daily.  50 employees work full-time from home from their PERSONAL home PC’s
  • Microsoft Licensing Required = 100 VDA Licenses
    • All devices must be licensed including the home PC’s

Other things to note about the Microsoft VDA license are:

  1. If the device you are connecting from is licensed with SA or VDA you do not need to purchase and additional Windows OS license for the virtual desktop.
  2. Install Windows 7/Windows Vista/Windows XP virtual machines on any combination of hardware and storage
  3. Unlimited movement between servers and storage
  4. Access corporate desktop images from non-corporate owned Windows-based PCs
  5. The primary user of a Windows VDA device has extended roaming rights, which means that he/she can access their VDI desktop from any device outside of the corporate environment, such as a home PC or an internet kiosk
  6. Includes Software Assurance (SA) benefits such as 24×7 call support, training vouchers, access to Enterprise versions of Windows, etc.
  7. Eligibility for other Software Assurance products, such as MDOP and Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
  8. Single Windows VDA license allows concurrent access for up to 4 VMs
  9. Reassignment rights to another device after 90 days, or in the case of end-point failure
  10. Dynamic desktop licensing enabled through KMS/MAK activation
  11. Unlimited backups of both running and stored VMs

I hope that helps to demystify Windows VDA licensing for your next VDI project.


Microsoft VDA Brochure

Licensing Windows for VDI

Licensing Windows for Virtual Desktops (PowerPoint)