Microsoft rethinks virtualization rules for Vista: Now (legally) run it in a VM, lowers VECD pricing

It's been almost a year since Microsoft officially announced their licensing policies for using Vista in virtual machine environments. Today they made a few changes to those policies.

It's been almost a year since Microsoft officially announced their licensing policies for using Vista in virtual machine environments. Today they made a few changes to those policies.

There are actually two sets of rules concerning Vista and VMs, depending on your use case. The first governs which version of Windows Vista you're allowed to run in a VM running locally on your computer. The second rule dictates when you're allowed to access Vista remotely across a network.

Running Vista in a local virtual machine

Under the old rules, you must have been using Windows Vista Business edition or higher to be allowed to run in a VM. In other words, if you had a Mac, and you bought VMware Fusion to run Vista in a local VM, you had to buy at least Vista Business edition. If you just bought the Home edition of Vista, you were breaking the law!

Of course this was crazy and no one followed it, so today Microsoft officially announced that ALL editions of Vista, including the "cheap" home editions, can legally be used in a virtual machine.

Connecting to Vista remotely over a network

The second aspect of yesterday's announcement is about pricing, specifically, the cost of something Microsoft calls "Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop," or VECD.

VDI environments (where instances of Windows XP or Vista run in the data center in VMs or on hardware blades) have been gaining popularity for several years. The only problem was that Microsoft didn't really come out and say whether it was actually legal to do this. Was it legal for a coming to buy a copy of Vista, run it in the data center, and then provide access to it via full desktop server-based computing?

In April 2007, Microsoft said "yes," you can do this if you pay them some extra money on top of the money you already paid to buy Vista. This "extra money" you have to pay is to buy an additional license called "Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop" (VECD). The catch is that you can only buy this VECD license if you have the enterprise edition of Vista and if that copy of Vista is currently enrolled in Microsoft's subscription program, Software Assurance. The April 2007 price for the VECD license was $78 if you're connecting from a rich client device, and $196 if you're connection from a thin client device.

Yesterday's announcement from Microsoft did not change the terms of the VECD license, but it did lower the price. The additional VECD license is now $23 when connecting from rich clients, and $110 when connecting from a thin client device.

What does this mean?

The Vista licensing rules as they were laid out last April were almost universally received with confusion, contempt, and people generally claiming "WTF?" The feeling was that Microsoft didn't "get" virtualization, and the April 2007 rules were Microsoft's arrogant way of saying, "F you. If you want to do virtualization, you will do it on our terms. If you don't like it, then run Vista locally as it was designed for!"

Now Microsoft has caved to industry pressure. They've realized that people are going to virtualize and remotely deliver Vista whether Microsoft likes it or not, so they might as well try to offer a licensing program that people can be in compliance with.

The only thing that I still don't understand is why Microsoft forces customers to have Software Assurance in order to use VECD. This just seems like another way to force people onto SA. But then again, they're Microsoft. What can you do? Not use Windows?

Join the conversation

17 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Sure it's cheaper, but it's another scam to boost Vista sales.  In a way, Microsoft is conceding that Vista is a failure.  Yes,  I know you can downgrade Vista to XP, but it shows on M$ books as a Vista sale and not a XP sale. 
Cancel
With Ultimate edition I believe you were entitled to run 4 instances of Vista...  1 as the host and 3 guests with only needing to purchase once license...  Is this how it now works with all editions of Vista?
Cancel
Microsoft is trying to position Software Assurance as a offering for enterprises that are intereseted in using new and innovative technologies. In that category do fall VDI solutions as well as application virtualization (Softgrid). So this is an attempt of Microsoft to make SA interesting for those type of companies.
Cancel
SA only?  Sounds like Microsoft is trying to rape it's clients.  What about the smaller companies?
Cancel
What about SA does not pertain to small companies?
Cancel
I believe the VECD concessions are for Enterprise, Select and, potentially, Campus (academic) agreements.  I didn't see anything in Microsoft's release for the Open Business, Open Volume and Open Government customers of the world.  So, as I understand it, Microsoft's announcement does little, if anything, for the small-to-medium customer.
Cancel
I specifically asked Microsoft this question when I was on the phone with them. They confirmed that YES you can also buy SA for Open. So it's ok for small business too. My whole complaint is that they force you to use SA, no matter what size you are. What if I don't care about future versions of Windows? Windows XP came out seven years ago, and it's still the most widely-used business desktop OS. Wouldn't I feel stupid if I'd been paying SA all these years on that? What are the chances that I'll want to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it's out? (Well, ok, Vista is such a dog, so maybe chances are good that I'll want to get onto Windows 7 really fast!)
Cancel
If businesses don't like it, they have choice--Mac, Linux, thin clients.  Microsoft obviously thinks they can get away with this...the first rule of capitalism is "charge what the market will bear" not "appease pissant blogger-journalists."
Cancel

While I can agree with your "Market will bear" statement, and switching to a Mac.... Obvious you don't understand Brian's insight and connections to the industry. But don't go away, Keep reading his blog as well as the other blogs on Brian's site and maybe you'll learn something.

 

Cancel
Where can I find the updated Vista license agreement?
Cancel
First of all, I did switch to Mac about two years ago and I love it! But for businesses, I think it's not that easy. Businesses have to worry about their applications, and it's kind of a chicken-and-egg thing here. Sure there are a ton of consumer apps for Mac, but there aren't that many business apps. Of course you could do what I do, and run Windows in a VM for the WIndows-only apps, but then you're stilling using Microsoft so that doesn't solve anything.
Cancel

The person you were talking to at Microsoft was being misleading or didn't understand their own horribly-convoluted licensing terms (either of which is equally likely). Yes, you can purchase Software Assurance (SA) on Open contracts, but you *cannot* purchase the additional VECD license on these programs. VECD licensing is only available for purchase under Select, Enterprise, Campus and School Agreements, and--as of just this month--Open *VALUE* contracts. Despite sharing the word "Open" in its name, "Open Value" is a completely different licensing program from "Open Business/Government/Academic", and its one that nets Microsoft a lot more money in the long term.

This isn't the only SA-additive license you can't purchase on Open, either. For instance, you can't buy the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)--the only way to acquire SoftGrid for Windows Desktops CALs--on an Open contract, either (although you can buy it on an Open Value contract, just like VECD). Microsoft is has decided that Open is the red-headed stepchild of its licensing programs, and I predict that they will continue to cripple it over time.

There was nothing wrong with the pre-Software-Assurance-era licensing, except that it wasn't making Microsoft enough money. It was pretty fair. You could buy a full product license if you needed it, buy an upgrade license if you already had an older version of the product and wanted the latest and greatest, and buy reasonably-priced upgrade protection if you wanted a steady budget number to stay current. Ah, the good old days! Now that Microsoft is making SA a pre-requisite for all sorts of additive licenses, it's going to be nearly impossible for all but the smallest of shops with the most basic of needs to avoid purchasing it.

Cancel
so to run vista from a thin client you need a license and another 100 dollar license on that to virtualize it.

looks like xp it is.
Cancel

I work for a reseller and have a number of customers running XP and Vista in VDI. Firstly let me say that Micrososft have done nothing but confuse the market from Day one regarding VDI but let me confim one thing for sure and that is that you can purchase VECD under a standard open License agreement, you do not need a Select etc.. agreement, I know because i've sold it !!

Cancel
Just buy a TS Cal and run terminal services
Cancel

Vista must for sure be one of the worst OS to virtualise, so I basically understand Microsofts initial feelings.. LOL


Cancel

Licensing_vista_with_VM_technologies.docx   :-"     <strong>Why is VECD only available in Enterprise Agreement (EA), Select License, and CASA Programs?</strong>  Based on initial market feedback, Microsoft has launched VECD in the primary Volume Licensing programs where the demand was highest. We are continually evaluating market conditions and customer feedback to expand our offerings into other programs. We are evaluating the viability of VECD in small to mid-market programs, such as Open License and Open Value, but do not have an offering at this time.  " 


Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchVirtualDesktop

SearchEnterpriseDesktop

SearchServerVirtualization

SearchVMware

Close