Now, as you know more about Microsoft's VDI products and technology, I will tell you a little about Microsoft's VDI licensing. I will explain the old VECD licensing and the new VDA licensing. The question of whether you can reduce costs with VDI will be the topic of my next post.

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The most interesting part of Microsoft's recent announcements about desktop virtualization were the changes regarding VDI licensing.

VECD licensing

At the moment, you need the Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) license if you run Windows desktops in a VDI environment. VECD licensing applies not only to Microsoft products but also to third-party VDI solutions such as VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop.

If you are a Windows Software Assurance (SA) customer, you have to pay $23 per year for every device that accesses your VDI. This also applies to PCs that run a Windows client OS.

If you are not a SA customer, then you pay $110 per year. Note that in this case a license for Windows client (Windows 7 Professional, Windows Vista Business, Windows XP Professional) is included.

SA customers also have to pay $110 per year for devices that are not covered by the SA, such as thin clients or non-Windows PCs.

VDA licensing

Beginning July 1, 2010, the VECD license will be discontinued and replaced with the Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license. The most interesting part of the VDA license is that SA customers don't have to pay at all. VDA is already included in SA, if you will,. Only non-SA customers pay $100 for a VDA license per year. This is $10 less than before.

Notice that VECD and VDA have to be paid on top of the licenses you pay for the VDI Standard Suite and VDI Premium Suite. So, for example, if you want to deploy virtual desktops with the VDI Standard Suite after July 1, and you don't have Software Assurance, then you pay $100 (VDA license) + $21 (VDI Standard Suite license) per device and per year.

As noted before, this will also include the license for Windows 7 Professional. Since VDI is hardly imaginable without file and print sharing, you will also need CALs (Client Access Licenses). Microsoft VDI licensing is per device. Hence, it probably makes sense to buy device CALs to keep VDI licensing simple (as far as this is possible in a Microsoft world).

Even if you consider that Windows 7 Professional licenses are already included here, VDI licenses are obviously more expensive than common Windows licenses in the long run if you have no Software Assurance. Since Windows 7 Professional costs you no more than $250, VDI licensing already costs more after two and a half years.

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However, the licensing costs are usually unimportant with regard to TCO (Total Costs of Ownership). In my next post, I will discuss the question of whether you can reduce the overall costs with VDI or not.


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