Microsoft: Virtualization Obstructor

Reduced rates on licensing in virtualized networks doesn't go far enough

January 26, 2008

2 Min Read
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Earlier this week, I mentioned Microsoft's recent announcements as evidence of Redmond's goal to spur desktop virtualization.

Seems I spoke too soon. Email from Microsoft detailing its new virtualizaton licensing prices got me to reconsider my statement. Microsoft is interested in virtualization of all kinds, but strictly on its own terms.

To explain, let me first itemize the key points of Microsoft's revised pricing of virtual machines:

  • Microsoft's Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD), announced April 2007, had an estimated retail price per subscription of $78/year per rich client license.

  • VECD now costs $23/year per rich client.

  • VECD requires Software Assurance for Windows Client.

Software Assurance licensing is the key here. Software Assurance, whereby a company pays annually for a specified range of client licenses, is known to be more costly than traditional enterprise licensing, even though Microsoft refuses to give any examples of its pricing.

At least one analyst notes that even though Microsoft offers extra management software with the premium license, it's not the way a lot of companies want to pay for virtual clients."It makes sense logically, but many customers don't want to have to become Service Assurance customers to take advantage of virtual desktops," says analyst Michael Rose of IDC.

According to Rose, Microsoft's licensing has been a barrier for virtualization customers from the beginning. He thinks there's more work to be done to remove that barrier. "The latest pricing of VECD is an improvement, but it doesn't go far enough," he says.

One thing: The clients you buy with VECD will run on anyone's virtual machines, including VMware's, according to Microsoft. The question is whether, given all the fine print involved in these licensing and support agreements, it would be worth it to mix and match like that.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • IDC

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • VMware Inc.0

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