MicrosoftAgreementsWaterfallIt is a common misunderstanding that, if you buy software licenses you can do anything with it. You will not become the owner of it, you only get the use right of the software under STRICT CONDITIONS. What you may or may not do with Microsoft software is recorded to the smallest details by Microsoft in several documents, like the End User License Agreement (e.g. Enterprise Agreement), Product Lists and Product Use Rights.

Only a few people read all those documents, but in general nobody reads them all. They just buy the licenses and think are correct or are offered by their IT supplier. Always check with a license expert that what you want to achieve complies with what is possible with the licenses you want to acquire. This prevents disappointment and high costs later on.

I wrote a post on licensing Windows 7 in a VMware Horizon View environment and most things mentioned in that post are still valid also for Windows 8. Below I will zoom into changes or summarize important facts for a complete understanding.

Which edition to use?
Windows 8 has four editions, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows 8 RT. For a VDI deployment only Windows 8 Enterprise is suited. This is because it is the only edition where you can place the necessary Software Assurance on the software.

Why Software Assurance (SA) or Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA)?
Software Assurance for Windows is the path to enabling people’s flexible work styles by providing access to Windows in a variety of ways across devices. By obtaining SA or VDA you will get Flexible Use Rights (FUR).

VDA through SA or VDA subscription?
Certain devices, such as thin- or zero clients, do not qualify for Software Assurance coverage for Windows. To license these devices for use with VDI you will need Windows VDA subscription. The rule of thumb is that if it isn’t a full blown Windows Desktop Operating System with Software Assurance (SA) you will need VDA subscription licenses to access the VMware Horizon View vDesktops.

Roaming Use Rights
For accessing the VMware Horizon View vDesktops with Windows 8 you will need Roaming Use Rights. Because Software Assurance is included in the VDA license, roaming access to Windows virtual machines (VMs) from thin clients, third party, and non-Windows-based devices is allowed.

Since Windows VDA licenses include external roaming use rights for the primary users of company-licensed devices, no additional licenses are required for users to access VMware Horizon View vDesktops from their home (employee-owned) PCs.

Enterprise Sideloading of Windows 8 Apps
Deploy custom Windows 8 apps directly to corporate devices without using the Windows Store. Receive the necessary use rights required to enable deployment of touch-centric Windows 8 apps directly to devices within an organization as opposed to being installed through the public Windows Store.

Windows Companion Subscription License (CSL)
With Windows 8, Microsoft has introduced the CSL, a new add-on subscription for devices covered with SA, which enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios and provides businesses with more flexibility to run Windows across multiple devices for their employees. The Windows CSL provides a single license valid for up to four devices instead of requiring individual licenses for each companion device. So all that is required is to license the primary work PCs with SA, and then select the users who will be bringing devices from home and attach the Windows CSL.

This is an add-on subscription cost will be around $6 per month per device, allowing up to 4 devices to connect to the VDI environment.

Important!!!Strange thing is though that Microsoft is licensing devices while they refer to users in their documentation. Select the work device and see which user uses this device and grant him/her the right to use 4 different devices outside the work device. If I am using several shifts which use the same device on the work floor do they all have the right to access this with several devices? Or do we see a slow shift to users or even concurrent users?

Windows 8 Downgrade Rights
Your rights to use prior versions of Windows in place of Windows 8 (“downgrade rights”) depend on how the license was acquired. Downgrade rights are included in licenses obtained through OEM Pre-install or Volume Licensing and do not apply to retail copies of Windows. OEM downgrade rights apply to Windows 8 Pro and allow downgrading for up to two prior versions (to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business). Software Assurance through Volume Licensing provides the greatest flexibility, allowing for downgrades to additional prior versions and editions, including Windows 7 Enterprise.


Volume Activation
Volume Activation allows enterprise customers to automate the activation process and make it transparent to users. Volume Activation applies to computers that are covered under a Volume Licensing program, and for customers using Volume Licensing media that were first introduced with Windows Vista and have since been enhanced. It is used strictly as a tool for activation, and it is not tied to license invoicing or billing.

Use Your Licensing Rights
You need not take any formal action to utilize Windows Virtual Desktop Access. Simply use your Microsoft Volume Licensing media (or downloads) to install product as appropriate to your virtual desktop infrastructure and management system. Proof of license for Windows and Software Assurance coverage are evidence of your right to use this benefit.

How to find the correct terms applied to your situation
The type of license you acquire depends on what is available under your agreement and what you order.  Some products, such as Online Services, are available under subscription licenses only.  Other products are available under either perpetual or fixed-term licenses or on a subscription basis, depending on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Program under which they are licensed.  See your volume licensing agreement and the Microsoft Product List for more information about the license types available under your agreement and for a particular product.

Which License Terms apply?

The license terms that apply to your use of a given licensed product include the Universal License Terms, the General License Terms for the licensing model under which the product is licensed, and any Product-specific License Terms. The most specific rules will always take precedence over the terms above. For example rules mentioned in additional terms always precede over the General License Terms. And the General License Terms always precede over the Universal License Terms.




VDA and Windows 8 Enterprise

Q: Do I have to buy an additional license to license the virtual desktop running in the datacenter?

A: No, by buying VDA licenses you are entitled to Windows 8 Enterprise in the form of a KMS key for the number of VDA licenses you have bought (x4) You can download the software from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).


Windows 8 local install right

Q: Are you allowed to install Windows on a device which you assign a Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription to?

A: No, Windows VDA only offers (a) access to virtual Windows PCs on the customer’s servers and (b) the right to use Windows To Go. Unlike Windows SA, which offers the right to install Windows Enterprise on the licensed device, Windows VDA does not offer any local Windows installation rights!


Windows 8 Pro OEM

Q: You bought a PC with Windows 8 Pro OEM and wants to run a virtual machine (VM) with Windows XP Professional on this device. Is this allowed?

A: No, Microsoft decided not to offer Windows XP Mode or a similar capability for Windows 8. Per the Software License Terms (SLT), Windows 8 Pro OEM may only be used in one physical or virtual Operating System Environment (OSE). The right to run professional Windows desktop operating systems in up to four machines can be obtained by attaching Windows 8 Software Assurance (SA) within 90 days after the purchase date of the PC with Windows 8 Pro OEM, or by obtaining a Windows Upgrade with SA thereafter as set forth in latest Product Use Rights.


Do I need CSL and/or Roaming Use Rights through VDA

Q: You have users who bring their own device (BYOD) to work and want to connect to the virtual desktops hosted centrally.

A: If your users have only 1 device they bring to work you can use VDA only, if they bring all sort of devices you need VDA + CSL to cover the devices.


More than one business device issuedWindowsSAplusCSL

Q: When we give users a zero/thin client and a Mac Book Air how many VDA licenses do we need to buy?

A: Both devices are company owned, so you must buy 2x VDA licenses!





Use the Windows 8 Enterprise Edition with SA or choose to use VDA for devices without Windows to access the VDI environment.

When pushing BYOD consider buying Windows SA or VDA in combination with Windows CSL. So users can choose which device, up to four different devices, they want to use to do their work at any given time.