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Microsoft cracks open Windows licensing — a bit — for a BYOD world

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Software licensing is a boring topic — unless you’re the IT buyer for a big company and are periodically rendered apoplectic by the arcane (and expensive) enterprise licensing requirements of your software vendors. In that case, software licensing is anything but boring, but it’s still not pleasant.

[company]Microsoft[/company] took a step towards addressing the complaints of business users this week by moving Windows 8.1 licensing for volume buyers to a per user model. That means if Joan Doe has a qualifying Windows license, she can run Windows on any device or devices she wants; her home laptop, her work desktop, her tablet or phone (if they run Windows, which they probably do not, but I digress.) In the past she or her company would often have had to pay for a license for each device.

Per the Microsoft blog post announcing the change:

Now you can license access to Windows Enterprise on a per user basis through the new Windows Software Assurance per User and Windows VDA [virtual desktop access] per User licensing options. These options put your users at the center of your Windows licensing solution, give you flexible options for how you deploy and access Windows across devices, and simplify Windows licensing and management.

This would be a bold move if it weren’t so overdue and riddled with qualifiers, which, according to software licensing expert Paul DeGroot, it is.

DeGroot, principal consultant with Pica Communications, said what Microsoft has done here is extend existing rights, like its companion license that lets a user access a corporate desktop through VDI for use on a companion device.

“There are still too many prerequisites and restrictions,” DeGroot noted via email. “The one thing it’s not is a ‘pure’ user license. You have to have a PC licensed for Windows Pro, and then you need to add [Software Assurance], and then you can buy a User license and use it to put Enterprise on other machines as long as they can run Windows and, in most cases are already licensed for Windows.”

CIOs will probably start feeling a little apoplectic again at this point.

Still, Microsoft is at least being a bit more receptive to customer gripes and perhaps more than a little concerned about potential defections to other platforms.

It also is further recognition of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) wave roiling corporations in which employees want to use their personal gadgets as sanctioned work devices. With the popularity of iPads, iPhones and Android devices in the past few years, Microsoft’s licensing didn’t do it any favors here.

More here from Forrester Research Analyst Duncan Jones and more here on the VDI impact.


New Microsoft per-user licensing for Windows.
New Microsoft per-user licensing for Windows.

10 Responses to “Microsoft cracks open Windows licensing — a bit — for a BYOD world”

  1. Adam Greenblum

    BYOD will continue growing as mobile devices continue to play a greater role in our lives. Even Microsoft recognizes that.

    Does BYOD come with headaches? Of course it does. However, security issues and IT management headaches (how do I support all those devices?) can be addressed by using new HTML5 technologies that enable users to connect to applications and systems without requiring IT staff to install anything on user devices. For example, Ericom AccessNow is an HTML5 RDP client that enables remote users to securely connect from iPads, iPhones and Android devices to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run their applications and desktops in a browser. This enhances security by keeping applications and data separate from personal devices.

    Since AccessNow doesn’t require any software installation on the end user device – just an HTML5 browser, network connection, URL address and login details – IT staff end up with less support hassles. The volunteer or temporary employee that brings in their own device merely opens their HTML5-compatible browser and connects to the URL given them by the IT admin.

    Visit for more info.

    Please note that I work for Ericom

    • Gooly Gee

      Despite the approach, many Privacy and security issues still remain including the following:

      (1) most employees and external resources will configure and receive their corporate emails on their personal devices. Which means that a company like Google will now be able to scan not only your personal emails but your corporate emails as well. Google scans every available document – including emails, text messages, photos videos, etc. – in order to build a comprehensive profile of individuals “for advertising purposes”. This also means they could now potentially use the same technology to build a comprehensive profile of your enterprise workforce,

      (2) most employees will use collaboration software to share corporate documents, photos, videos and more. In the course of such a process, corporate documents are inevitably moving between the secure corporate infrastructure onto the individual employee’s devices. Again a company like Google could potentially use their technology to access any of the corporate documents available on the employee’s device.

      No matter how you cut it, even under the best circumstances a BYOD access model opens access to sensitive corporate data. Such access should remain of utmost concern to individuals and corporations specially when using mobile software technology that doesn’t adhere to strict Privacy and Security engineering rules to the likes of Apple and Google.

      Unfortunately, most individuals who use such mobile technology are technology agnostics and remain unable to appreciate the exposure and risks associated with using it.

      Only Microsoft demonstrates a high level of concern for their clients Privacy and Security. In fact, Microsoft continues to invest billions of dollars each year to detect and protect individuals and enterprises from malware and other various types of intrusions.

      As an individual, through Microsoft you get the benefit of the most secure technology and the highest level of privacy above by any other company in the industry.

      When it comes to Privacy and Security, MICROSOFT IS THE ONLY NAME YOU CAN TRUST.

  2. so how does this work for shared devices with multiple users? i the software is licensed to an individual instead for a device does this still allow multiple users to share a tablet or desktop?

  3. Golly Gee

    Why would Microsoft care about Apple or Google in the enterprise. ?

    Everybody knows that the use Google technology exposes employees and the enterprise to serious privacy issues while Apple technology exposes employees and the enterprise to security and privacy issues.

    Microsoft offers best-in class security and privacy for both individual consumers and the enterprise.

    • wow the notion that microsoft wouldn’t care about Google or Apple in the enterprise boggles the mind given how many iphones,ipads and android devices are now entrenched — brought in by employees — but there to stay. thanks for your comment but i would worry about Microsoft if it were NOT worried about these rivals.

      • Golly Gee

        Read my comment carefully.

        Google is known to intrude on customer privacy. More specifically, Google systematically scans all your emails, your text messages and documents in search of “key words for advertising purposes”.

        Now, imagine if enterprises allow employees to use Google devices at work. Perhaps you have never heard of industrial espionage. As a consumer, I would be extremely concerned with Google’s practices and as a business even more so.

        As for Apple, their technology also poses serious concern over privacy and security. In particular, Apple offers no detection for any type of malware to which consumers and enterprises are exposed to on a daily basis.

        When it comes to Privacy and Security, the saying is “No Detection equals No Protection”.

        Unfortunately Apple products fall in that category “No Detection equals No Protection”.

    • so how does this work for shared devices with multiple users? i the software is licensed to an individual instead for a device does this still allow multiple users to share a tablet or desktop?