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By now you're all familiar with the story of OnLive's Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering where they appear to flagrantly break Microsoft's Windows 7 licensing model. (If you're not caught up, check out this and this.) Over the weekend, the OnLive enthusiasts on the OnLiveFans.com website noticed that OnLive apparently switched their desktop offering to Windows Server 2008 R2 instead of Windows 7, seemingly marking of the end of the licensing battle between them and Microsoft.
This is a good thing for many reasons.
First, it means that OnLive is now on a level playing field with the rest of the DaaS providers. Windows Server 2008 R2 can be provided as a remote desktop for users via RDS CALs, and the RDS CALs are available via Microsoft's SPLA program. So this is something that anyone can get access to.
It's unfortunate that it went down the way it did. Gabe and Jack met with OnLive CEO Steve Perlman back in January and asked how OnLive Desktop was licensed, because it appeared to be illegal. Steve just told them that they had a lot of licensing experts in the company and that it was fine.
Steve has close ties with Microsoft, so we don't know whether anything really changed or whether they just made this small change to satiate the community. "Hey, it's Server now, so leave us alone!" Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 are fundamentally the same OS anyway, and it's possible to configure the Windows Server desktop to look and feel like a Windows 7 desktop. I would assume that OnLive didn't change their fundamental architecture at all—they just dropped the server bits instead of the desktop bits and all is now well. (Even on the cost standpoint, Microsoft is known to cut special deals with companies for licensing, so it's possible that no additional money changed hands with OnLive. Microsoft might have just said, "Look, just change it to Server and we'll leave you alone."
By the way, I'm still staying out of the MVP program. Microsoft not disclosing how OnLive was licensed with only the final thing that pushed me over the edge to quit. But Microsoft is still screwing the desktop industry by not having an SPLA for Windows desktops and for having those crazy policies on multitenancy.
Finally, it will be interesting to see what Guise Bule does with his "Desktops on Demand" company (which is slated to open for business in a few weeks). In his day job, Guise is the CEO of DaaS provider TuCloud, but he was so mad at Microsoft for allowing OnLive to violate the Windows 7 license agreement that he said, "F it!" and started Desktops on Demand with the open intention of violating Microsoft's license agreement to bring light to the issue. Many folks in the industry have said he's just doing for the publicity, which is true and exactly why it's awesome. (Check out the comments in Simon Bramfitt's post on Desktop on Demand for more info, and watch the segment from the time Guise explained his thinking on Brian & Gabe LIVE.)
So now what? This chapter is done. We still hope Microsoft changes their policies… What else?
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