Microsoft CSP can sell Windows 10 licenses as part of their subscription service, but is the struggle really over?

Microsoft CSP
Microsoft CSP can sell Windows 10 licenses as part of their subscription service

Microsoft announced, that from September on, virtualization user rights will be coming to Windows 10 subscriptions in the Microsoft CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program. This goes for both desktops hosted on Azure and for 3rd party hosting partners.

For service providers that want to host desktops, this seems like the news of the year. They can finally sell Windows 10 licenses with their offering, even outside of Azure. So they can now really sell the car without having to ask the customer to license the motor somewhere else.

Microsoft licensing for service providers has always been a struggle, resulting in cumbersome workarounds. In the beginning there were no rules at all. VECD and then VDA step by step introduced rules and more and more options, but in the end didn’t really deliver what was needed. Service providers were running Windows Servers for each user instead of virtual desktops in order to enable feasible licensing. This might read like a joke in the future, but unfortunately was common practice for a long time.

In the first place, it was very difficult to even understand how to license correctly. Some consider Microsoft licensing to be a black art. There were blog posts, articles, flyers and workshops dealing with it. Wordings combined Software Assurance, SPLA, FPP, Volume- and more licensing options with different operating systems, roaming users, company owned devices, exceptions, rules for exceptions and finally ended in “ask your Microsoft sales person”. Abbreviations sometimes took on a life of their own (e.g. the V in VECD seamlessly turned from Vista to Virtual).

The main issue for a long time was that licensing remained device based. If a user had non-Windows devices like a thin client and an iPad, he needed to license them separately. This made costs unpredictable and too expansive for many businesses. Things improved when using Azure, but this was not helping service providers who wanted to add value with their own hosting centers.

Now it seems that Microsoft will finally fully support service providers in what they want to do. Take a look at the Microsoft announcement.  The question remains though – What will licensing restrictions and pricing look like? How long for example will licenses be available for a user or virtual machine?

So we’ll have to keep an eye on more news coming from Microsoft. : To make your hosted desktop complete, no matter which Microsoft licenses are used, don’t forget to include ThinPrint.

Thorsten Hesse Avatar
Thorsten Hesse