OnLive Relents but Fight Continues Over Microsoft VDA Licensing

Gaming and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) provider OnLive now appears to be complying with Microsoft's virtual desktop licensing restrictions.

OnLive's low-cost services led to a public spat over how it was licensing Windows 7 to provide virtual desktop infrastructure services. The dispute turned ugly last month after Joe Matz, Microsoft corporate vice president of worldwide pricing and licensing, called out the company for running virtual desktops to customers using Windows 7, which violates Microsoft's Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) stipulations for service providers delivering remote desktops. Microsoft issues SPLA licensing to service providers only when using Windows Server 2008 R2 for delivery of remote desktops.

OnLive had been using Windows 7 to remotely deliver desktop and Office applications to Apple iPod and Android tablet users for free. It also offered relatively low-cost monthly plans that added DropBox, Gmail and extra storage options to the service.

The company's switch to using Windows Server 2008 R2 was described on Saturday in a news post by Ed Krassenstein, an editor at Users of the service noted a change in a keyboard display and discovered that Windows Server 2008 R2 was now running under the hood of OnLive's service. If that's so, then the switch potentially represents a permitted use of the software under Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) and SPLA licensing. But while Microsoft may have won this battle with OnLive, it still faces grumblings from its partners working on the front lines provide hosted desktop services to customers.

Brian Madden, a Microsoft MVP who relinquished his title in protest of Microsoft's VDA licensing restrictions, made it clear that all is not well for DaaS providers, given Microsoft's approach. He accused Microsoft of killing the DaaS industry.

"Microsoft is still screwing the desktop industry by not having an SPLA for Windows desktops and for having those crazy policies on multitenancy," Madden wrote in an April 9 blog post. He had explained in a previous post that Microsoft's VDA licensing prohibits Windows 7 to be used to deliver hosted desktops using shared hardware, otherwise known as "multitenancy," according to service-provider lingo.

The protest by Microsoft's DaaS partners continues with the creation of a DesktopsOnDemand Web site. The site will offer Windows 7-based DaaS services in the United States in the second quarter of this year, possibly this month, while starting up in European Union countries in the third or fourth quarter of this year. DesktopsOnDemand is being spearheaded by DaaS provider tuCloud, in collaboration with Desktone, according to a tuCloud press release (PDF).

tuCloud CEO Guise Bule didn't mince words about what he sees as wrong with Microsoft's VDA and SPLA licensing. He even critiqued using Windows Server 2008 R2 to deliver a desktop experience.

"We saw them [Microsoft] take stabs at VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure]," Bule wrote in a DABCC article. "Terminal Services became Remote Desktop Services which of course fooled no-one, even Microsoft cannot convince the world that a server OS is a suitable replacement for a Desktop OS."

Bule noted that he must turn away many small-to-medium enterprise clients because of the costs and complexity of Microsoft's VDA licensing for delivering hosted desktops. In contrast, organizations large enough to afford Microsoft's upper-end Software Assurance licensing option get VDA coverage thrown in at no additional cost, he noted. He advised Microsoft to open up its VDA desktop licensing to customers "in the way that will most add value to their own organizations, whilst they still want to use Windows."

DesktopsOnDemand appears designed to provoke Microsoft into a fight over the issue.

"If they sue that business, I'll appear in court and shout and scream 'antitrust, anticompetitive behavior'," Bule said, according to an Ars Technica article. "I don't think they want that because they can't justify their licensing."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


  • Gears

    Top 10 Microsoft Tips and Analyses of 2018

    Here are the year's most popular explainers and how-to columns -- along with some plain, old "Why did Microsoft do that?" musings thrown in.

  • Sign

    2018 Microsoft Predictions Revisited

    From guessing the fate of Windows 10 S to predicting Microsoft's next big move with Linux, Brien's predictions from a year ago were on the mark more than they weren't.

  • Microsoft Recaps Delivery Optimization Bandwidth Controls for Organizations

    Microsoft expects organizations using its Delivery Optimization peer-to-peer update scheme will optimally see 60 percent to 70 percent improvements in terms of network bandwidth use.

  • Getting a Handle on Hyper-V Virtual NICs

    Hyper-V usually makes it easy to configure virtual network adapters within VMs. That is, until you need to create a VM containing multiple virtual NICs.

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.