Today I was investigating the license requirements for virtual desktops and ran into something downright silly, but completely legitimate. So, without further ado, I give you an alternative approach to Microsoft’s VDA license.
In my research I really want to figure out what licenses are required to run a Windows desktop virtually. Many organizations still don’t get this, or if they do they blatantly ignore the requirements. Long story short if you are accessing your VDI based Windows’ desktop from anything other than a fully licensed Windows’ endpoint that includes Software Assurance (SA) you are most likely in violation of your Windows’ license. You can thank me later for making you aware of this.
The license in question is the Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license. Since this license is per device, per year and has a hefty price tag at roughly $100 each year, it takes a lot of the blame for the high cost of desktop virtualization. Yet if a business bought a PC with an OEM’d Windows Professional on it then added SA, its roughly $40 per year. This makes thin clients and zero clients much more expensive.
So here’s a silly idea, why not:
- Buy the cheapest PC you can find that comes with Windows Professional on it.
- Put SA on this PC
- Repurpose the PC with Microsoft Windows ThinPC
- Manage the ThinPC with System Center
I make the argument in my research that a Windows endpoint gives a better user experience due to many of the features that are only available on Windows endpoints: Non-hairpinned Unified Communications, DirectX redirection, Windows Media Redirection, etc. So choosing a Windows endpoint makes sense from a UX stand point. However, it defeats the purpose from a management standpoint which is why I’d drop WinTPC on it (good news there: you get WinTPC as a part of SA). Its still a bit beefier to manage WinTPC than a typical thin/zero client, however, its licensing cost is 60% lower YOY.
I like thin clients, they use less power, less space, have longer shelf lives but even though I really dislike this idea, I can’t refute that it makes sense from a cost perspective. Which leads me to a final conclusion:
Microsoft really needs to fix the VDA license