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Microsoft Offers Virtual Licensing Options for Vista

If your enterprise customers have been pestering you for virtual licensing options, you can now bring them some good news, at least for Vista.

Microsoft recently announced changes to its virtual licensing strategy that should make it easier for enterprises to license Vista on all types of virtual machines.

Microsoft will now let enterprises license Vista for thin-client workstations or any other version of "diskless PCs" -- if they have Software Assurance.

The company has also created a new licensing option, Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD), which will allow for licenses on "virtual machines centralized on server hardware."

"We are working with our partners so they can provide the software to enable diskless PCs and they will likely enable two different scenarios for customers," Scott Woodgate, director of Microsoft Windows Business Group, said in an interview posted on Microsoft's site. "In the first scenario, each employee's hard drive is stored individually on centralized storage hardware. In the second scenario, shared images are used by a group of users. Our licensing enables both of these scenarios so that customers can work with our partners to determine if these are valuable architectures within their desktop environment."

According to Woodgate's statements online, the "diskless PC" option is just an additional option for customers -- no price change is involved. The price of VECD will vary depending on whether customers purchase it for PCs or for virtual machines.

Both of the changes are only available to customers with Software Assurance.

While VECD might be a good fit for some customers, it doesn't look like Microsoft thinks these new options will immediately catch on: "For most businesses, the most cost-effective option for centrally managing their desktop environments continues to be Terminal Services," Woodgate said. "VECD likely has a lower price-performance ratio than Terminal Services -- due to the hardware requirements of virtual machines -- but it does have the benefit of the same application compatibility and isolation boundaries as Windows Vista."

The new options were originally launched last week at the Microsoft Management Summit 2007 in San Diego.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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