Just last month virtualization.info highlighted how Microsoft may be working under the radar to to hit VMware where the vendor is betting the most: on the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) initiative.
Part of this silent effort involves the improvement of the RDP protocol to efficiently handle the heavy multimedia protocols that every VDI client has to render.
Anyway this is just one piece of the VDI story that Microsoft may be shaping.
Another one is the so called client hypervisor, needed to break free the mobile VDI clients from the corporate network dependency.
On this front Microsoft is deadly silent but it’s evident that the company could push the button at any moment: nobody in the market has the capability to distribute a client hypervisor on million devices like Microsoft.
They could write a dedicated version of Hyper-V and embed it in Windows 7 (or its successor), or just wait for Citrix and Intel to do the dirty work, and then use their upcoming XenClient (which will be free of charge) with an OEM license.
A third key aspect where Microsoft may want to change things to smash VMware is the VDI pricing, which is much higher than any terminal server farm because of the additional component that it requires.
About this very point Microsoft announced yesterday the availability of two new volume licenses for VDI: the Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Standard Suite and the Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Premium Suite.
Both new offerings include licenses for all the components used in a VDI architecture: the hypervisor (Hyper-V), the management layer (SCVMM, SCCM and SCOM), the remote protocol access license (Remote Desktop Services CALs) and the application virtualization platform (MDOP which includes App-V and MED-V).
On top of these licenses the customer is still required to buy the Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) and honestly isn’t clear why Microsoft didn’t just package all together.
Like the VECD, these new licenses are per-device and cost $21 per year (Standard Suite) and $53 per year (Premium Suite). They will be available in Q4 2009.
VECD still costs $23 per year (if you are a Software Assurance customer) or $110 per year (if you are not).
Microsoft says that over a 5-years period this pricing costs 1/3 and 1/2 respectively of the VMware View licensing.
As expected Citrix immediately jumped on the bandwagon and announced the XenDesktop support for these new licenses.