The Virtualization Practice

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Licensing VDI for Microsoft Desktops – is it rocket science?

Given all the past ingenuity and accomplishment why is it, in 2011, the mere task of assigning valid licenses to desktop virtualisation should appear an arcane process?

How do different virtualization models impact how you license your desktop services? What are the current licensing models and do they apply in all instances of desktop virtualisation? Do the models impact on provisioning of services be they laptops, thin clients, Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC), or mobile devices?

Is desktop virtualization licensing an intentionally complex process and what other options could there be?

Attached as a footnote to last week’s big news of Windows 7 SP1 being released to manufacture, Microsoft also announced a new lightweight edition of Windows 7. Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is in many respects a Windows 7-based update of Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP), a lightweight locked down version of Windows XP SP3 that was offered to enterprise customers as an encouragement to get them to migrate away from Windows 2000 without the cost of performing a hardware refresh at the same time.

MultiPoint Server is the Cinderella of the Windows world, locked away in the cellar education sector, kept away from the bright lights of publicity and severely limited in what it could offer. But that could well be changing given Microsoft’s recent efforts to revamp the product. Although not yet quite ready for shipping, Microsoft has been working hard to add value to MultiPoint Server and when it ships in March it looks like Microsoft might have a winner on its hands.

There is great outrage to Microsoft’s reluctance to play ball and support virtualization of IE. Without an alternative, the solutions offered by Microsoft are expensive, cumbersome and difficult to maintain. Virtualising the application may well allow different browser versions to co-exist – but the user-experience can be cumbersome with links to other applications not always launching the correct browser and users having to know which browser to choose. Unibrows offers an interesting alternative utilising isolation to support the deployment of different controls and centralisation to allow management and control and importantly wrapped up in what sounds like a very appealing cost.

On October 22nd, Microsoft announced that it has partnered with Cloud.com to provide integration and support of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V to the OpenStack project. The announcement caused a great deal of interest here at the Virtualization Practice, as it signals an unexpected willingness on Microsoft’s part to pursue interoperability at the IaaS layer, allowing users to break out of the Hyper-v stack, whilst still retaining Hyper-v at the bottom. The fact this announcement came from Microsoft (not Cloud.com, Rackspace or OpenStack) seems to signal the seriousness of the intent.