Paper: Decoding Microsoft’s VDI Licensing Arcanum

Login Consultants has released a paper titled: “Decoding Microsoft’s VDI Licensing Arcanum“. The paper which contains 43 pages is written by Falko Gräfe can be downloaded for free from the Login Consultants website after registration.

The paper covers Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) licensing and compares this against Server Based Computing licensing and single user terminal server licensing being used by some of the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) providers nowadays.

The paper contains the following chapters:

  • Management Summary
  • Conclusions Summary
  • Introduction
  • Microsoft Hosted Desktop Access Requirements
  • Device Based Licensing Options
  • The Hosted Personal Server Desktop Alternative
  • Hosted Desktop Access License Costs
  • Hosted Desktop Access Licensing Results


Part of the summary:

“Microsoft changed their VDI licensing regime many times in the last five years. They implicitly prohibited using standard Windows licensing for hosted desktops with the introduction of VECD licensing in 2008. Initially it was an add-on subscription (with costs) for Windows Software Assurance customers only. Microsoft then declared the VDA Use Right middle 2010, made it available as a free benefit for Win+SA customers and offered it as a leasable subscription licenses for Non-Win+SA devices. In April 2012 Microsoft established the new Companion Device Subscription License (CSL). Finally, the VDI Standard/Premium Suite licensing are discontinued.

This CSL addresses the use of a virtual Windows desktop also from secondary devices, namely for using personal devices in the internal network. This scenario is becoming rather typical nowadays, as more and more users use their own devices to access the corporate virtual desktop. The impact of CSL on complexity and costs is huge and should not be underestimated. The reality today is that it is practically impossible for organizations being serious about VDI (and consumerization of IT) to be compliant with Microsoft VDI licensing.

At this moment Microsoft VDI licensing remains in stark contrast to the simplicity and much lower cost of Hosted Shared Desktop licensing (also known as Terminal Server or Server Based Computing).