Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure is general available and is an alternative for a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in your own datacenter. Besides the pro’s and con’s of going to the cloud, there are some licensing concerns to be considered. A brief overview.
Windows Virtual Desktop
A Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) on Azure is not much different than a virtual Windows desktop provided from a network server on a customers IT infrastructure. To legally use the technology an organization needs software licenses or cloud subscriptions.
For WVD on Azure with Windows 7 of Windows 10 an organization needs a license or subscription which grants access to a virtual desktop. In case of WVD those licenses or subscriptions are:
- Microsoft 365 E3, E5, F1
- Microsoft 365 Business
- Microsoft A3, A5, Student Use Benefit (educational institutions)
All of the above subscriptions contain a Windows Business or Windows Enterprise user subscription as a component of the suite. Besides that, those suites also have an Office365 subscription as a component of the suite. With that, the use of corresponding Office applications on the virtual Windows Desktop is covered as well.
- Windows 10 Enterprise E3, E5
- Windows 10 Education A3, A5 (educational institutions)
- Windows VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) E3, E5
Besides the right to access the Windows Virtual Desktop, any use of Office applications on the virtual desktop have to be licensed via a qualifying Office 365 subscription or Office Professional Plus or Office Standard license with network use rights.
Good to know
Because the architecture of Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure is based on shared hardware, a Windows Enterprise Upgrade license acquired through a Volume License program and covered by Software Assurance does not qualify to use WVD.
Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure is also available with Windows Server as the underlying operating system. With that, organizations do not have to license Windows Desktop but do have to license the Windows Server (and Office) environment.
For the Windows Server there are two options:
- License with the subscription within Azure (pay as you go, most expensive option)
- Use Azure Hybrid Benefits for Windows Server Core Licenses covered with Software Assurance and save on Azure costs
Besides the above, with the use of Windows Server an organization will also have to license Remote Desktop Services. This can be done in multiple ways:
- Users licensed with Windows Server RDS User CALs covered with Software Assurance
- RDS User Subscription Licenses through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program
- Devices licensed with Windows Server RDS Device CALs covered with Software Assurance
Besides the right to access the virtual Windows Server on Azure, any use of Office applications on the virtual desktop have to be licensed via a qualifying Office 365 subscription or Office Professional Plus or Office Standard license with network use rights.
When you have all your licenses sorted, use of Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure will cost you money. You don’t have to pay for the licensing, but still have to pay for base Azure services like compute power, storage, memory, et cetera.
Need to know
Licensing new cloud technology can be confusing or even difficult. To prevent any future hassle it is a clever move to get the appropriate knowledge before deployment. The licensing experts of Quexcel can help you with that. Please do contact us for more information or to discuss your specific case for Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure.