What if Microsoft fixed VDA and added SPLA for Windows 8?

By all accounts, traction for Windows 8 (and 8.1) in the enterprise has been non-existent.

By all accounts, traction for Windows 8 (and 8.1) in the enterprise has been non-existent. Any growth has mainly been in the mobile sector where companies are using it on tablets to enable a more portable Windows environment for specific use cases where a laptop is even too cumbersome. TileWorld applications haven’t caught on, either, with very few being developed for in-house line of business purposes.

The biggest reason for this, even more so than the fact that so much changes in the UI, is that nobody has any real incentive to move from Windows 7. Almost everyone has moved off of XP, and the only reason many companies did that was because the OS that they love so much is going to lose support. Windows 7 support doesn’t end until January 14, 2020 (a Tuesday, if you’re planning a party), so we’re pretty much fine waiting until then.

On a related note, organizations are currently warming up to trend of using Windows Server as a VDI OS to avoid all the licensing complexities associated with using Windows client OSes for VDI. Doing so is like delivering 1:1 RDSH servers, and it means that your only required user license is a Remote Desktop CAL. You don’t have to worry about a VDA license for devices, SA for primary client devices, which devices are corporate-owned, which are used on company property, or any of that crap. Sure, you need to have the Datacenter platform license for Windows, but when you add it all up, you’re looking at a substantial reduction in cost and headaches.

DaaS providers are going this route, too, since there’s no SPLA license for Windows client OSes. So when you buy a persistent desktop solution from a DaaS provider for $35/mo per user, you’re probably getting a Windows Server 2008 R2 desktop dressed up to look like a Windows 7 machine. If you want to actually run Windows 7, you’re going to pay the provider about the same amount of money, but you’ll also have to go buy all your VDA licenses on top of that.

Microsoft almost certainly sees this, and I’m sure it drives them nuts. (Although companies are still paying them money even though they’re running Windows 7, so maybe not?) They have a billion dollar business built around a product that nobody wants to move to, not even in enterprises where the vast majority of applications are Windows applications! But what if there was something that could sweeten the pot? What if Microsoft finally caved to our demands (really, just requests, since we have no bargaining power), fixed VDA, and added SPLA licensing for Windows?

There have been all sorts of calls to action for Microsoft to add SPLA and #FixVDA, but they’ve fallen on deaf ears. So the question is, what if Microsoft met us halfway? What if they gave us a SPLA and “fixed” VDA for Windows 8 ONLY? Would that be enough to get us to move to Windows 8?

The tables would be turned. It would actually be cheaper to deploy Windows 8 as a VDI OS than it would be for Windows 7. Could you put up with the pains of that migration then? Of course as IT people, we’re probably still resistant to the prospect of using Windows 8 because we know what a hassle it will be when dealing with users, but when the IT Director or CIO gets a hold of the information that it could actually save money, it might land on your plate anyway.

For Microsoft, they’d finally have a legitimate reason for companies to move to Windows 8, not to mention a way to dissuade people from using RDSH in a way that it was probably not intended to be used (although it’s still totally legit to use it in the 1:1 VDI way). Maybe they just don’t care, and they’re content to focus on all things cloud for the foreseeable future.

What do you think...could it work?

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You're funny Gabe. how long have we been asking MS to fix its licensing with regards to remote desktops of any type.


I actually think this is the way they are going to go, it makes zero sense to me that they would launch their own Mohoro DaaS platform using server OS images disguised as desktops.

If you assume that they have been stopping DaaS providers from  deploying Client OS images and building multi-tenant infras in order to slow the space down until they are ready to launch, its the next logical step for them when they are ready.

No way are they going to launch their brand new DaaS platform using server images, they own the desktop, why would they ?

I can see 8.1 hosted desktops on the horizon.


What if MS just changes the licensing so we can't use servers as desktops anymore?


"What if MS just changes the licensing so we can't use servers as desktops anymore?"

Exactly. we tend to assume they want to "fix" this. What if they see us using server AS THE PROBLEM, thus the "fix" would not be what we think is needed.


I used to work closely with Microsoft teams, including the SPLA team, and at one point came up with a bunch of reasons that hosted desktops would be a good thing. This was because I kept working with companies who had good ideas for hosted services that kept running aground on the prohibition against renting hosted desktops.

I can't remember all the reasons, but they included

--less piracy in poorer countries as internet cafes there could legally offer hosted desktops. (they later came up with the Windows rental plan, which was a start)

--more secure Windows--if a VM is compromised, you just replace it with a fresh one, so viruses and bots don't live forever

--familiarize people with the latest version of Windows

--reach more customers

--have a Windows revenue stream that did not depend on OEM PC sales

The reaction was just a shrug of the shoulders.

I was, and still am, discouraged by how tolerant Microsoft is of bad ideas, and how even when they admitted something was substandard, no one was ever prepared to actually take responsibility for tackling the problem.

The flip side of that is that I have built a whole business on the back of their failure to tackle the sorry mess that is Microsoft licensing, offering courses and advisory retainers, reducing audit risks, and negotiating millions of dollars in savings.

So, from my perspective, there's nothing wrong with Microsoft licensing. It's almost perfect and getting better all the time! The only problem I have is being unable to keep up with all the work they're driving in!


I just sat in yet-another-licensing-explanation-by-Microsoft today.  And while I can't talk about some of what I heard, the bottom line is that every time I hear the full licensing story, the more baffled I am.

Too many options for stuff that, quite frankly, you should already have the right to do.

Great, I buy (or license the right to use) a copy of Windows.  But there are a dozen different rules and licenses about where I can access that software, as in remoting the user interface.  Give me a break!

If MS is serious about moving to the cloud and wants Azure to be something more than a developer playground, the rules have to change.  

To the new CEO:  Make it simple, dude!


I don't think licensing Win8 VDI in SPLA will make any difference to Win8 adoption.  It isn't being adopted because a)win7 is great and b)enterprise don't yet see the value.  If they don't see the value on their physical desktops then they won't see the value in the cloud where it would likely cost the same or more.  So if MS did change the license I predict you would see people using the downgrade rights to deploy win7 in the cloud :-)


I've been saying this forever :-) Only hope MS has of getting people non-consumers to upgrade.


Doesn't this go against the predictions that, long-term, the Windows desktop will only be maintained for legacy applications. If you follow this line of reasoning, does it not make more sense to have apps running on a server and then stream these to whatever device/browser is used on the client side? Why would we have a virtual desktop at all if products like Mainframe2 can run heavy/legacy apps at a central location and stream them to you. I know this is likely quite a few years off, but if Microsoft internally have a similar opinion then why would they move now?

Additionally, if Microsoft are committed to the mobile vision for Windows with the tile interface, perhaps they are more keen on putting legacy apps into run-time containers and doing away with the legacy desktop altogether. Again, why have a full VDI instance when you're running "just a bunch of apps"? You can lose the desktop/RDSH and just stream the app interface.

Conceptually Windows 8 would be ideal for VDI, as it is somewhat leaner than Win7 to run, so in theory you could get improved density. The real "problem" with Windows 8 though is still that the majority of people using it on legacy hardware (ie. non-touch capable) just use the Windows 7 desktop.

Why have a Windows 8 VDI if I have a thin-client without touch capability?