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Vista Desktop Licensing Plan Has Its Virtues, Gartner Says

Microsoft has two new licensing options under its Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop program.

Windows licensing took an evolutionary turn in early September when Microsoft announced two new licensing options under its Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) program. The program allows IT administrators to move the OS to other PCs (or Macs) using virtual machine (VM) technology.

This week, Gartner published an analysis on the new licensing, describing the options it provides.

The broader use of VMs through licensing-compliant frameworks is a step in the right direction, according to Gartner. However, because VECD is only available with Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing, the bottom line for business will be relatively expensive.

One option under the new licensing plan allows a VM to be transferred between machines covered under the VECD program for $23 per year. You can also "occasionally" run the VM on a home PC.

A second option enables the VM to be used on machines not owned by the VECD program licensee. This option may be good for companies that work with temporary or contract employees. Having this capability will cost $110 per user annually, but it allows the VM to be moved after 90 days of installation.

Gartner calls this second option "highly significant" because it allows enterprises to deploy a corporate Windows OS that is not tied to a specific machine. The option will help stimulate innovation in the market, according to Gartner. Still, such licensing "may not be broad enough to meet some users' needs," Gartner added.

Organizations should do a thorough evaluation of network security to determine if it would be more secure, and cost effective, to have employees or contractors using their own machines under this licensing plan, Gartner said. A common scenario might be applying the licensing to employee-owned Macs.

The new VECD program VM licensing options will be available on January 1, 2009, according to Microsoft.

Gartner's analysis on the new Windows desktop licensing can be accessed here.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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