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How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

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  • How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

    I am experimenting at the moment with different virtual environment scenarios.

    Currently I have been working with traditional terminal server environments - each user logs on to the same terminal server and gets their own customised desktop, and documents, desktop etc are redirected to the file server/domain controller.

    It works quite well.

    But for a cheaper option (for small business clients) I am thinking about setting up some sort of Virtual desktop environment with just a collection of windows 7 VMs, some sort of storage (possibly FreeNAS) and then something like office 365 for email functionality.

    I have been trying to research licensing info for the Windows 7 VMs, and I understand you can purchase windows 7 for a physical client machine, and then you can also purchase an additional monthly license so that the windows 7 software can be used on a virtual instance as well.

    However, I am getting a little confused with this and just wondered if anyone has experience in this area, and if you could give me a few pointers?
    David Silvester
    Systems Administrator

  • #2
    Re: How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

    Typically for all licensing questions, you ask 3 different people at Microsoft and choose the most favourable of the four different answers you will get (in writing, just in case)

    Roughly, you will need a Win7 license (NOT OEM as that is tied to hardware) per VM - I have never heard of the monthly virtual license, which sounds more like Office365 or some other "cloudy with a chance of failure" solution.

    Since Datacentre Server allows unlimited guest OSes on it, I have tried to find out if this allows client as well as server OS installs, but have never had a definitive answer.
    Tom Jones
    MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
    PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
    IT Trainer / Consultant
    Ossian Ltd
    Scotland

    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

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    • #3
      Re: How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

      Originally posted by Ossian View Post
      Typically for all licensing questions, you ask 3 different people at Microsoft and choose the most favourable of the four different answers you will get (in writing, just in case)

      Roughly, you will need a Win7 license (NOT OEM as that is tied to hardware) per VM - I have never heard of the monthly virtual license, which sounds more like Office365 or some other "cloudy with a chance of failure" solution.

      Since Datacentre Server allows unlimited guest OSes on it, I have tried to find out if this allows client as well as server OS installs, but have never had a definitive answer.
      Thanks for the quick reply!
      So, If we had a retail licence on the physical machine, would the VM licence be covered, or are you saying a licence is needed specifically for the VM?

      This is what I was looking at, I tried reading it last week and got confused!
      http://download.microsoft.com/downlo...l_Machines.pdf
      David Silvester
      Systems Administrator

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      • #4
        Re: How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

        Honestly not sure - I have always assumed (ass-u-me) that the physical OS (on the desktop client) and the virtual OS on the VDI server are two separate licenses, and reading the PDF seems to support that in some scenarios, but the software assurance one suggests 4 x virtual per physical license....

        Best ask MS directly!
        Tom Jones
        MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
        PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
        IT Trainer / Consultant
        Ossian Ltd
        Scotland

        ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

          just printed and read through it.
          the way I understand it now is that if you have software assurance for windows, or VDA subscription then you can use the license on up to 5 remote virtual instances - I think this is more for the fact that you could have a VDI that roams between different host servers?
          And you can also use it to Roam - IE if you log in to your VDI from another computer.

          I think software assurance is more for small business by the sounds of it.

          I just checked on Microsoft license estimator for windows 7 professional open license with software assurance and it comes to 90.00 per license.

          Based on the document I shared, I think that would then cover the physical windows licence, as well as remote license of up to 5 virtual instances (But as I said, i think thats just for that single client, so you cant use if for 5 users).

          Does that sound right? Microsoft licensing is so confusing!
          David Silvester
          Systems Administrator

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How does windows client licencing work in a VDI environment?

            We purchase licences for our customers under SPLA and tend to use the free version of Hyper-V to Host Windows 7 VMs and as already mentioned, you purchase the appropriate licenses for the physical instance of Windows 7 that you are using to connect to the virtual instance. Furthermore, some Office products allow roaming but with some provisos such as only that customers VMs being on a Host etc.

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