4 ways Microsoft is screwing the desktop virtualization industry - why I'm quitting the MVP program

Microsoft is doing four very specific and intentional things that are holding back the desktop virtualization industry.

A lot of people have long believed that Microsoft has been screwing us. But after last week's radio show and two fantastic articles from Gabe and Jack, it became clear that Microsoft is doing four very specific and intentional things that are holding back the desktop virtualization industry:

No. 1: No SPLA for Windows VDA

As Gabe pointed out last week, In order to connect to a Windows desktop in a VDI scenario, you're required to have a Windows VDA ("Virtual Desktop Access" license). If you buy Software Assurance (SA) for a particular client device, the VDA license is included. Fine. And for clients that are not eligible for SA (because they can't run Windows, like iPads or thin clients), you can still buy a standalone VDA license so you can use that device to access a Windows-based VDI desktop. Fine again.

Now you might also know that there's a licensing program Microsoft offers called the Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA). This is the license that service providers use to charge their customers for access to Microsoft software on a monthly basis. This makes sense, because you couldn't be a service provider if you had to buy full-price licenses for products that customers might only use for three months and then abandon. Microsoft has SPLA licenses for just about every product they make—except for VDA! In other words, it's simply not possible for a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) provider to "rent" Windows desktops to users. The only workaround, and the recommendation from Microsoft, is that if a service provider wants to provide a desktop as a service to a customer, the customer has to provide their own VDA licenses. So all these DaaS providers you hear so much about—Desktone, tuCloud, etc.—all their pricing is based on the customer bringing their own Windows licenses. (BYOL?)

The crazy thing is that tons of people have asked for SPLA licenses that can be applied to Windows desktops. We hear this from every major DaaS provider. (Both on the record and off.) And it's also crazy that Microsoft has SPLA licenses for Windows Server, including Remote Desktop Session Host. So you can provide an shared session-based desktop as a service, but not a VDI desktop? WTF?

There are plenty of users out there who would like to try subscribing to Windows desktops as a service, but as soon as they read the fine print, they're discouraged. I mean imagine how someone like Desktone has to say, "Okay, you can get your desktop from us for $30 per user per month. Oh, but first you have to buy this other volume license from Microsoft, and if you ever change your mind and don't like our service, you're stuck with this thing." How crazy is that?

Some people argue that each customer buying their own full licenses shouldn't be a problem, and that this is a non-issue. Well if this isn't a problem, then why does the SPLA program exist? Why do they make RDS CALs available via SPLA? Obviously Microsoft and the world-at-large recognize that having an SPLA program is a good thing. Heck, even Office has SPLA. So why does it apply to DaaS desktops with the multi-user OS but not the single user? What gives?

And how crazy are the workarounds? So service providers can buy big servers, buy copies of Windows Server Datacenter Edition, build an unlimited number of VMs, configure those VMs to look like desktops with Aero glass and everything, give each user exclusive access to a "desktop" VM, then rent RDS CALs via SPLA—and that's all Ok? But you try that same thing with a Windows 7 VM, and you're the recipient of legal action from Microsoft!

No. 2: Hosting providers aren't allowed to let two customers share the same servers or storage

As if the whole SPLA thing isn't crazy enough, Gabe also pointed out that if you're a DaaS provider and you've managed to convince your customers to buy their own VDA licenses, Microsoft forbids you from using the same physical hardware for more than one customer! Are you kidding me? So if you want to get into the desktop hosting business, it's impossible to have a customer with less than, say, 50 users, because you'd have to splurge for for a dedicated server for them.

Again, what possible logic could there be behind this rule other than to purposefully slow the adoption of DaaS and VDI? What's really crazy is that VDI is all about virtual desktops, and virtual desktops are VMs running on these virtual platforms. Yet Microsoft forces service providers to have purposefully inefficient designs? How many compostable forks are needed on their Redmond campus to make up for all the extra greenhouse gases burned to power these arbitrarily-underutilized servers? And isn't virtualization supposed to fix all this, not be the cause of it?

By the way, if you don't believe this, check out the question and answer from Microsoft's official on SPLA Program Guide:

I am a hoster who wants to provide Windows-based desktops as a hosted service. Do my customers need to pay for Windows VDA? OR Is there a Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) for Windows VDA so that hosters can provide Windows-based desktops as a service to third parties?

Currently, there is no SPLA model for Windows VDA. Hence, customers who subscribe to desktops from a third-party hoster will need to pay Microsoft for a Windows VDA license for each device accessing Windows client virtual machines in the datacenter. Additionally, hosters need to ensure that they isolate the hardware and other resources for each company (i.e. no two customers can share the same set of resources, such as hardware, storage, etc).

No. 3: Arcane rules about on-premises devices

For our third bit of craziness, Microsoft has this arcane rule about how SA and VDA licenses are allocated. Microsoft SA and VDA licenses are assigned to devices, not people. So right off the bat this is weird, because this whole VDI thing is about the ability to access your desktop from anywhere on any device. But if Microsoft is licensing VDA based on the client device, you need an expensive VDA license for every possible client device each user connects from!

To address this, Microsoft created something called "Extended Roaming Rights" (ERR). The basic concept is that as long as the user's primary device is covered by VDA, then the user can use ERR to also access a VDI desktop from a personally-owned device. So far, so good. Except here's where it gets crazy. The ERR only apply to users when they're not in the office. Check out Jack's article from a few weeks ago for more details, but the basic point is that any device that's used on-premises must be fully licensed with VDA. The ERR are only for off-premises clients. As Jack pointed out, "say for example that an employee, tired of being chained to their desk, brought in a MacBook from home. The company would now need to provide another VDA license. That MacBook was perfectly fine at Starbucks, but now it’s costing the company more money."

Again, how crazy is that? And it gets worse. The definition of whether a device needs to have its own VDA license or can leverage the ERR of an existing device is based on whether the device is "controlled" by the company. But as Eric Gunderson pointed out in the comments of Jack's article, what does that mean exactly? If the company uses an MDM or MAM solution to enforce security policies on iPads, now that means that device needs a separate VDA license if it's brought onto the company's premises? (All of these gory details are outlined in Microsoft's 147-page Product Use Rights document.)

No. 4: Microsoft won't disclose how OnLive licensing works

The final thing that pisses me off about Microsoft is that they won't disclose how OnLive is able to provide their service while maintaining compliance with Microsoft licensing. For those who haven't seen it, OnLive offers a full remote Windows 7 VDI desktop direct to end user consumers, and the users don't have to buy VDA licenses. Based on everything we know about Microsoft licensing, this should be in clear violation of Microsoft's policies. (And many of the other DaaS providers are crying foul, noting that it's hard for them to compete against a company who apparently doesn't have to license Microsoft products like the rest of the world does.)

I decided to leverage my Microsoft "MVP" credentials to find an answer. (Microsoft is always talking about how we MVPs have exclusive access to the product teams and how we can get our questions answered.) I sent the following question to my primary contact in the Remote Desktop group at Microsoft:

Can anyone shed any light on how OnLive is licensing Windows 7 licensing for their customers? Is this a special SPLA-like deal? We talked to their CEO, and he just said, "We have licensing experts, and it's legal," but he couldn't tell us how. He also never heard of VDA, so I'm not sure he's the right person to ask?

The response we received was something along the lines of "we're not in the best position to comment on how another company is doing their licensing."

Fine. So I asked the question a different way:

Thanks for this answer. I understand that you can't comment on specific customers. Let me a different question: Can you please get me in touch with a licensing expert at Microsoft who can explain how I would set up my own DaaS offering based on Win7 Enterprise? I want it to be free, or $9.99 per month. But I don't want customers to have to own their own Win7, VDA, or SA. I want to provide everything as a provider. I'd be interested in exploring this offering for both physical and virtual hosts. Please tell me which Win7 licenses I have to buy in order to do this?

Again, I got absolutely nowhere. They supposedly said that they were escalating it, but that was more than a month ago and I've heard nothing. So not even Microsoft can explain what's happening even though it definitely looks illegal from the outside and all the other cloud DaaS providers are claiming that something is going on.

So with all this shadiness and Microsoft's unwillingness to answer a question, why am I an MVP? I don't agree with so much of what this company is doing. Why would I want them using me to broadcast their propaganda?

I logged into the MVP interface to see if there was an option to quit in protest. (There was not.) But I did decide that there's no way I'm going to the MVP conference. [UPDATE March 2: I emailed my resignation to MVP Lead , and it was accepted. So I'm no longer an MVP.]

Microsoft's annual MVP Summit is going on in Redmond this week. I am not there. I'm protesting.

I've been an MVP since 2004. The program used to be awesome, but it's not anymore. I remember my loving feelings from the early days. (I even wrote a blog post with Ron Oglesby on how awesome it was.) I bragged about things like, "When we say something critical of a Microsoft product, a Terminal Server product manager at Microsoft’s response is 'Oh my gosh! You (as a community leader) are so important to us, and we can’t believe that we’re doing anything that would make you think that. Please, tell us how we can improve and what we can do better.'"

That was back in 2004. Now in 2012 I know that I left a sentence off the end of that statement which is, "Of course we can't actually do anything about it, but hey, we'll make you feel like you're making a difference." Seriously, the same basic group of MVPs has been going there for eight years, yet there's not one single Microsoft Remote Desktop person we deal with now who was also there in 2004. They claim to want to help and listen, but the program can't deliver any of that.

I know I've dedicated my whole career to Microsoft desktops and applications, and that's not changing anytime soon. And I know that Microsoft applications themselves are not going anywhere anytime soon. That's also fine. It doesn't change the fact that I don't agree with what Microsoft is doing, and I can't wait until alternative application frameworks break their monopoly.

I've told a few people privately that I want to leave the MVP program, and one of the responses I've gotten was people saying, "But if you don't go and give your feedback, then they're never going know and they won't fix anything."

But that's a load of crap too. I've been going to MVP summits for eight years and telling Microsoft the same stuff year after year, but so far it hasn't worked. And besides, none of this is news to them. They know they're screwing us.

So that's it. Microsoft is screwing this entire industry with their asshole policies. I'm embarrassed that I supported them for so long. I just don't have the respect for them that I did in 2004.

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Onlive not disclosing how they address Windows licensing might potentially backfire on them (or is it part of guerilla marketing tactics?).

In a recent report titled "OnLive Links iPad Users to MS Office, but With Potential Licensing Risks", , Gartner states: OnLive has not disclosed to us how it is complying with Microsoft licensing, and Microsoft has thus far declined to comment on the matter"

It is not just you Brian that has difficulties solving this.


Right on, Bri. Licensing is second on my "VDI fail" list (first on the list is the fact that most people are doing it for the wrong reason). Ultimately, I get so tired of people claiming to solve IOPS problems or whatever, when the very basic issue of licensing is not likely to be resolved in the near future.

And it's not just a DaaS problem..

I recently asked on twitter if anyone knew of any enterprise doing VDI that was audited by Microsoft and I got a few solid responses which I followed up on. Ostensibly MS has given a "pass" to comapnies with SA who are paying per seat without VDA licensing for devices not covered by SA. That said, without converting this into an actual licensing framework, those IT admins are likely doing this without the knowledge of the CFO. If MS ever decides to pass on the "pass" these co's would have to pay licensing costs that could get the IT guys fired.

VDI: It's messy. And you're probably doing it wrong.


Congrats for having the balls to do this, and for the helpful insight into how licensing for VDI actually works (or not).

Time for Microsoft to come clean on this and play fair.  The time of one PC per desk per employee is ancient history.


Brian - great to see you attempting to make changes here in the industry.  The items you note above are a significant impediment to DaaS adoption which is crazy given the recent explosive interest in adopting this VDI model.

While Microsoft has made miniscule steps towards DaaS friendliness (eg. your quote above notes that you can not share storage and they now allow this in their most recent FAQ - download.microsoft.com/.../Microsoft%20VDI%20Suites%20and%20Windows%20VDA%20FAQ%20v3%201.pdf), but it is not even close to being Service Provider friendly as it still requires isolated compute.

The ironic part about their position is that they increase hardware costs which does not make them any more money.  While we have SPs offering DaaS to as small as 20 desktops, they could open the market all the way down to the consumer as well as reducing the price point by allowing shared hardware, and they could greatly reduce the complexity by offering the SPLA license.  It seems they just aren't listening to the industry or seeing the huge market opportunity.


What makes this situation all the more perplexing is that Microsoft should surely be desperate to promote anything that keeps thier key cash cow products relevent in the fast changing IT ecosystem.

Ignoring corporate virtual desktops for a moment and considering consumerization, unless Microsoft offers a product range that is easily accessibly and functionally relevent to the ever increasing number users who now spend as much (or more) time with a non-Microsoft tablet or on a smartphone as not, then the will quickly become irrelevent in this space.

Despite being in at the very start of the "smartphone" era via CE and its successors anyone looking at thier market share now would be forgiven for thinkning that they turned up late for the game! Microsoft are struggling to have any impact on the tablet/mobile device market right now (in either the consumer or corporate space) and given the fragmented nature of the fortcoming Windows8 range, this is unlikely to change.

This leaves Microsoft with few remaining money makers. The need for Windows Server versus functionally equivelent alternative products stem from the close integration with Windows desktop - i.e. Active directory etc. If Windows desktops loose thier relevence then the need to maintain the overhead of Windows server also diminishes, impacting that products income.

Right now, via nearsighted decisions such as the restrictions on VDA via SPLA (which is a particularlyjagged thorn in an already stupidly overcomplex and unfriendly licensing platform) Microsoft are hamstringing any attempt to break into emerging markets like VDI.

Early indications about the usability and mindset behind Windows 8 seem to suggest that Microsoft are aiming for a piece of the app publishing/delivery action, but what they have failed to grasp is that they are no longer the ordained authority from which all business models are built anymore. Apple, Google, VMware, Amazon, Facebook et al are now defining the direction of the IT market, and Microsoft are either too damn arrogant to accept it, and too damn greedy to settle for just a piece of the pie. They want to be in charge and we all suffer for it.



Nice read!

I will give you a number 5. It's not directly VD but VD could be a part of it. It is a DaaS-story based on Win7 Ent and MS doing odd things with client OS's too.

A couple of months ago I wrote a 4 step article about Daas. The first defines if we all mean the same because you could also provide a DaaS as a complete workplace service; I twisted it to WaaS… And my problem is when you want to provide a complete managed workplace service incl HW based on Win7 Enterprise. So the three ending posts handles the strange idea to only offer Enterprise as an SA and saying no no; SPLA is not SA – yes it is. I don’t care about all benefits but please give me the possibility to provide a service based on Win7 Ent incl DA, BitLocker and BranchCache!

Short breakout:

“The Issue

When working with managed services and SCCM, as the “manager”, you cannot use OEM-versions as OS-license because you can’t control the license, it belongs to one specific computer, and you cannot handle one image for every PC. Neither can you use non VL-licenses, like the Windows 7 Ultimate, because they use traditional Microsoft licensing servers and not KMS or MAK (read more). You are stacked to use either licenses from VL or SPLA.

Check the picture in chapter 2 again which says; “The Windows 7 Enterprise operating system (OS) is available to Microsoft Software Assurance customers”. This means you can find the Windows 7 Enterprise version in the VL Programs, if you signed up for SA. This is a fact and I won’t go in to that discussion even if I think you should be able to buy it without SA. So this is fine if you as an MSP want to offer a managed DaaS where the customer is responsible for the licenses.

A complete managed DaaS where the license is included should then use Windows OS license from the SPLA program. Here is the big problem; Microsoft only offers Professional in the SPLA Program! According to Microsoft; Windows 7 Enterprise is an SA benefit. According to me; SPLA is in a way SA too, you have the right to run the latest version; SPLA is the way to offer services including the license; Windows Enterprise is the version for companies; why isn’t it available in SPLA? MSP doesn’t need the other SA-benefits but we need the Enterprise version and I really think we’re paying for it.

Going back to the DaaS, part 1; as a MSP you will not be able to fulfill 100% because if you want to give enterprises enterprise options customers have to buy or subscript their own licenses from a VL agreement. Today there is no way to deliver a complete managed DaaS. Microsoft; please do check this out; you are making a mistake here. I’ve talked to a lot of people at Microsoft about this; both on Nordic, EMEA and Corp level but no one really understand or can explain why it isn’t available in SPLA. My intention was to discuss this on the DaaS round table at Microsoft Hosting Summit 2011. Unfortunately all the talk was about VD’s, AppV and other V-things – yes, “the other” DaaS…"

It starts with DaaS, Part 2 (1 of 3) – what happens when you provide it with a Microsoft OS? (inmaxmind.blogspot.com/.../daas-part-2-1-of-3-what-happens-when.html)

A small number 6 is how to sign an Leased Agreement…it seems to exist but no one knows anything about it…



It is silly that many of us have been yakking away for years about MS licensing but continue to either pay or skirt by in hopes that MS will look the other way.

Brian's digital hunger strike will not change MS' licensing attitude; only customers will by NOT buying MS software.

There is choice (as we all know) and the costs can be calculated.

Personally - I have started advocating virtualizing Ubuntu since it is very easy to use (especially for web applications that have been updated). The other option is to go back to using Remote Control software for the Power Users.

Unfortunately, VDI/HDV costs continue to go up, not down and each organization has to decide if the solution scales in terms of price, performance, and manageability.



You forgot one important point.  The VDA license is one that a customer never "owns".  You either purchase every year or you can purchase it in a 3 year block.  It must be renewed once that time is up.  Not only do they have to buy VDA, they have to buy it every year.

@Phil and @SillyRabbit - Microsoft will do whatever it wants because they can.  You have no other option at this point for a virtual desktop OS.  Unless this has changed recently, there is no way to connect to a non-windows virtual machine (ubuntu) by a client based product line (XenDesktop, View, Etc.)  Until that happens, Windows OS is going to be the VDI OS by default and Microsoft is going to make you pay for it.  

Let me give you another hint, Citrix's relationship with Microsoft will prohibit them from pioneering a change in the virtual desktop OS.


for what it's worth, I've been chasing OnLive for meaningful comment on its desktop service for over six months, and just the same as you I have had nothing but broken promises, evasion, and ultimately silence.

Anyone with any common sense at all would be advised to stay well clear of OnLive until it comes clean on licensing and fixes its terms of service (more on the terms of service mess here blog.simonbramfitt.com/.../onlive-desktop ).

Okay, telling people to stay away from OnLive is hardly necessary advice here, but when you look at the consumer world everybody is singing OnLive's praises and promoting the hell out of it.  I'm just waiting for the class-action lawsuit the day these guys go under. A nice opportunity for an expert witness if ever there was one.



"Unfortunately, VDI/HDV costs continue to go up, not down and each organization has to decide if the solution scales in terms of price, performance, and manageability."

Wwhat? What makes you say that, from my perspective VDI costs are falling all the time.


Brian, this is a great view on VDI.  

I actually just had a meeting with MS where #2 was addressed.  According to them, this is no longer an issue and they fully support a multi-tenant cloud environment.


Thats not entirely true Matt - there are two very real options. The first is to answer the demand for mobile working and centralised provisioning/management via published SaaS apps (not necessarily Windows desktop based either). The real risk facing Microsoft is that they are becoming less relevent in the endpoint space. Its not going to happen overnight, but it is happening.

The second option is not to go VDI at all. Try as I might I just can't think of a single realistic use case where hosting complete virtual desktop OS's can be regarded as a neccessity. A nice to have certainly, but not a neccessity - VDI doesnt give the average desktop user anything from a productivity perspective that can't be achieved on a fat client. VDI is for the enterprise, not the end user.

I feel my point about Microsoft no longer driving the software industry is valid here - sufficient penetration of viable enterprise quality SaaS products that don't rely on a Windows desktop OS just have to hit a saturation/tipping point and Microsoft will be left floundering as growth hits a wall and shareholders start shouting about why they arent gettinga  cut of all the new "cloud app" money (the same way they are currently shouting about how Microsoft has repeatedly missed the boat with tablets and smartphones). Hell, all anyway wanted to talk about at VMworld this year was app publishing and the irrelevence of the Wintel deskpoint as an endpoint - I'm a Windows stallwart, and even I have no doubt its coming.

All Microsoft rule (in terms of the VDI marketplace) right now is a mound of dirt. Unless they sort out thier attitude this is all it will ever be. Not because no-one else could do viable VDI, but because its and inherently inefficient model and anyone without Microsofts headstart would even consider developing. Any potential Microsoft have to monetise the VDI market by making virtual Windows desktops a go-to solution for corporate IT departments will be largely bypassed and die before it has a chance to flourish as better and cheaper delivery methods grow through the cracks in thier outdated business model.


Just joined your blog to thank you, Brian, for taking up the VDA/SPLA cause. SPLA licensing more or less makes sense, except for this.

I was an MVP, too, back when the program began; it was a great program in its day. I still have an (unused) MSN.com e-mail address that accompanied the MSN dial-up Internet account that was a perq in those days! Sorry to see it's fallen so far so fast.


Another interesting DaaS vendor is Nivio where they just got 21m in funding.

It's interesting to note that Ian Pratt is on the Advisory Board too.



“With successful trials in Europe and India, nivio is an experienced provider of cloud desktops, and the only company to launch in the U.S. a complete solution for users to migrate their desktops to the cloud,” said Ian Pratt, Chairman of Xen.org, Senior Vice President of Products at Bromium, Inc., and a member of the Advisory Board at nivio. “nivio has pioneered the Cloud Desktop globally, driven by the vision and passion of its founders and an experienced management team. I’m excited to see this new offering come to the United States.”



Brian - As a DaaS service provider in the Southern California, we know this issue too well.  This has forced us and others to focus on the 50+ desktops market and turn away the bulk of the opportunities.  The Win Server shared solution is appropriate for static deployments where user applications are uniform and controlled.  However, this is not the case with many of the small businesses who need the flexibility a true dedicated VDI desktop offers.

There are many 50+ opportunities - we are doing just fine - however, I think the true Holy Grail is below 50 where 90% of the SMB market lives. I hope MS resolves this soon.

BTW - We signed up for OnLive on Day 1.  I instantly screamed "FOUL".  We sent our legal group into licensing no man's land and still have not got an answer.  Thanks for escalating this issue.


@Roberto - What form of assurance did you get from MS about #2?  Written release, soon to change T&Cs, MS hand shake?  This is a pretty significant piece of the pie!


One of the biggest hurdles Microsoft need to remove is the concept of paying at both ends. If I pay for a desktop OS license (paying the extra for enterprise is fine as long as it is transparent that this allows me to do what I need) then that license should permit me to install, access and operate a single instance of that operating system, whether that be on a desktop or virtual machine and to access it via any means I see fit (from any endpoint). By all means sell me Windows TPC as a seperate SKU for my repurposed desktops if needbe, or sell me RDS CAL's if I'm using an RDSH server rather than a VDI box.

The concept that users should pay a premium for an enterprise deskotp OS license and then face further restrictions or ongoing charges to access that system from thier desired endpoint is insane. I don't recall having to pay for VDA or an RDS CAL in order to hook up an IP KVM to my servers back in the day... why should I be expected to pay through the nose to do functionally the same thing now?

I think a tectonic shakeup of Microsofts licensing is needed - I'm not saying they have to go for an Apple "1 SKU" model (though it'd be nice) but someone needs to sit down and take a very careful look at the whole system and cut out 80% of the unneccessary and obstructive crud.


Brian, thanks for bringing up these issues with Microsoft licensing!

I totally agree that their licensing is insane, especially when it comes to VDI in the Public Cloud.

Here is my theory:

1) Mcrosoft is working on their own offering "Windows365" (like Office365) and they don't want to give conpetitors a competitive edge.

2) OnLive: Either it's illegal what they are doing or they have a special agreement with Microsoft. Maybay Microsoft is doing a large Proof-of-Concept together with OnLive and later on they will buy the company.

I will share ths artifle in my social networks. I hope, that a lot of other people will do the same!


I am sorry but this is somebody whining that they don't like Microsofts corporate strategy on how they licence their own products. Its like walking up to a car manufacturer and saying "all that money you spent developing and testing those engines, sod that, buy an engine from somebody else, cus yours are crap anyway!!"

This is blatantly moaning cus he can't get his idea of what he thinks should be. What this guys fails to see is that under his idea, there is no control. There is no governance. Customers currently have to be in control of their assets. Half of the time they are not, the other half they just can't be arsed. Why should MS give licence to customers to do what they want with their code? Ms spend billions on r&d and advertising and marketing. All to let a service provider take away the revenue from the brand development windows has gone through for 20 odd years now.

MS will get there eventually, but the market is still evolving in terms of saas, daas etc

I could rant about posts like this all day. This is a typical "I hate volume licensing!" rant. The customers that give me this are the best ones, cus these guys are the ones, that at the end of the day, buy it cus they are scared of getting it wrong. And they probably would get it wrong, cus rather than follow the rules, they want to make their own to suit themselves.


@William Gates: Sorry, but I ccanot follow your argumentation!

Microsoft is not giving away revenue by providing a SPLA licensing option for Windows 7 - the opposite might be true!

What they are doing with OnLive sounds like they are giving away licenses for free (Win7 and Office).


Congrats Brian - you seem to have your first real troll!

@Bill Gates (witty name) Though I feel slightly ashamed to be rising to the bait - do you really believe this is an "I hate volume licensing!" rant? I think its patently obvious that Brian (and everyone else who has responded to his blod post) is very much in favor of volume licensing; However thats not really what Microsoft is delivering in regards to VDA et al.

If your going to "rant about posts like this all day" then please feel free to so on facebook. Other than some occasional shilling by vendors promoting thier solutions the observations on here are usually pretty relevent and legible. It'd be nice to keep it that way!


I spoke with Microsoft about topic 1 last year when we began designing our DaaS offering.  When I challenged their position on not having a SPLA version for the Windows desktop they shared that it was really intended to protect their windows OEM partners.  So in turn, it is arguably the HPs and Dells of the world that are contributing to this problem as they will suffer significant revenue loss with the VDI movement.  Who knows for sure?  It isn't a model that we can withstand for too long.  


Thanks for the comments everyone.

Just an update for those who asked: Microsoft has accepted my request to leave the MVP program. So now I'm just a regular guy!



What's with all the "Cus"sing?


Of course, RDS is available for SPLA and for many hosters, not wanting to give admin rights or allow users to install any application, it is just fine for providing virtual desktops.  It also scales with less hardware, is multi-tenant, has years of tried and tested history and is already delivered by plenty of partners.

A good 90%+ of the VDI projects I see end up being RDS (plus someone else's product if required), so it is not as if this is not a common solution.

Just a thought.


Did any of you geniuses ever think that perhaps Microsoft is going after OnLive for license violation instead of being in bed with them and that is the source of their silence and not their lack of love for all that is Brian Madden and his chubby little side kick Gabe?


Brian, it looks like you are not getting mad because Microsoft made a bad decision on VDISPLA, you are mad because you are not being told the answer, right?  

Is it possible that there is a good answer coming that we'll all love and appreciate, but you are not being told because the details have yet to be announced publicly?  If so, I think your rant could qualify as a major hissy fit.  

MVPs are great, and it is obviously a great program for the vast majority of IT Pros like yourself.  But they are not going to be told everything that is happening ahead of time.  And they often do not understand the larger dynamics at play, which is probably because they are MVPs instead of employees.


Google claims to be 100% non-MS Windows organization.

Suggestsion for your followup article:

"How is Google achieving being a non-MSWindows organization."

How did they do this?

How long did this take?

How much money did they save?


@Robert Christiansen

MS was specific in stating that this would only apply to Application Servers.  So they will support hosted Exchange, CRM, System Center and so on in a multi-tenant environment.  Still no SPLA for W7, which as we know, hurts DaaS solutions.  Currently, I've seen these offerings requiring customers to use their current licenses.

I have a slide deck where MS explains License Mobility in this scenario but I'm not sure I'm allowed to post it.  I'll check on that.


I'm doing some research on this whole issue of 'renting' Windows & Office and read this post & replies with great interest. But I do have one question I haven't been able to figure out on my own.

I've used Onlive and can see that it presents a more or less full Windows desktop. But I've never used Windows Server 2008 & RDS, nor do I know enough about it to know why it couldn't be used to do the same thing or something similar?

Can someone enlighten me as to why it is essential to have a Windows license (and thus the lack of an SPLA is a problem) instead of using remote access to Windows Server? Am I missing something obvious? Thanks!--David


Most folks are probably aware by now that MS is now directly engaged (enraged?) with Onlive with the hopes of bringing them into licensing compliance. Ouch.


I'm not sure why any of you are surprised Microsoft would cut this backdoor deal with OnLive and not other DaaS providers, it's pretty simple in my opinion.

OnLive is offering a product to a market that Microsoft has lost, Apple and Mobile users. Typlical DaaS providers are not, they are offering a product to a customer Microsoft already has and in essence is trying to cut the cost for that customer, potentially cutting Microsoft's cash cow sales.

It's clear to me that MS is giving Onlive a pass because MS sees the giant gaping whole they have left in the mobile market. They have let Apple become the dominant player and

through their products become the service and product delivery giant Microsoft thought they would be. This whole is widening and could take on Microsoft's cash cows, Desktop OS(Win7) and Office. Without any knowledge of the actual numbers I would be hard pressed to believe Microsoft sales of Office are anything but in a downward trend. Corporations are still using Office 03, XP even 2000 and Microsoft gives away Office to students and even small businesses with Home and Student, like any small business cares about the EULA agreement that says you can't use these versions in a business.

Want to know why OnLive got a pass, follow the money, Office and where do you not see Office products, on iPads, iPhones, iTV, iGlasses or whatever else Apple decides to release in the coming years.


Has anyone read this:



Scroll down to:

Desktop service

On 12 March 2012, Microsoft told OnLive that its OnLive Desktop service was a violation of the Windows 7 license agreement, and threatened legal action, contending that the license agreement did not permit the use of Windows 7 as a hosted client, nor for Office to be provided as a service on Windows 7 since this would be only allowed using Windows Server and Terminal Services. On the 7 April 2012 it was discovered that the OnLive Desktop Service had changed and had now begun to use Windows Server 2008, presumably to settle this dispute.


I just wanted to pop in and say that I came here trying to find illustration of MS desktop and office licensing terms. What a convoluted mess. You have given the most frank outline of the state of their affairs I have to say I applaud you, and you put your money where your mouth is resigning your mvp.

So I'm subscribed, you're bookmarked, and I'll probably come back frequently, as I like your no bs approach.

And to put my money where my mouth is, I'll enable trackers and scripts from known adverts so you can monetize my eyeballs.