Understanding Microsoft Licensing can be, and often is, more difficult than understanding the technology. In this post we will look at what is required to license Windows in a VDI scenario.

The concept of VDI is to store and run desktop workloads including a Windows client operating system, applications, and data in a server-based virtual machine in a data center; and allow a user to interact with the desktop presented onto a user device via a Remote Desktop Protocol such as Microsoft’s RDP or Citrix’s ICA.

VDI Licensing
There is some confusion here because the old Microsoft Windows VDI licensing model called VECD. Please ignore any VECD material as it has been replaced by VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) as of July 1st 2010.

If I want to access a virtual machine running a Windows client I have two choices. If the machine I am running is Windows then I either need that machine covered under software assurance or I need to buy a VDA license. For all other devices I need a VDA license. Windows VDA is a device-based subscription license and will be available at $100/device/year.

So it doesn’t matter if you use Hyper-v or VMWare ESX or something else. To run Windows clients in a VDI scenario you need to either:

  • License the Windows desktop used to access the VM under SA. about $40 a year
  • License the device with a VDA license for about $100 a year

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have questions.