Somebody Explain Windows, Office VDI Licensing for iPad to Me

Somebody Explain Windows, Office VDI Licensing for iPad to Me

I'm terribly frustrated. And perhaps that's Microsoft's goal. The blogosphere is lit up this week as partners and customers analyze Microsoft's Windows 8 licensing terms, and the potential implications for Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone) and Google Android users. MSPs and partners want to promote VDI (virtual desktop integration) as a way for iPad and Android users to access Windows and Office applications. But Microsoft is playing favorites with its own Windows RT tablet strategy. Here's the update, along with some links that can further explain the situation.

In an recent blog, Microsoft describes its Windows 8 Enterprise and Enhanced Software Assurance license strategy. Within all the words, check out this specific paragraph:

"Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers."
Windows RT is the ARM-based version of Windows 8. Windows RT will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors. Read between the lines and the Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights apparently favor Windows-based tablets over Apple iPad and Google Android tablets that use VDI to access Windows and Office apps.

Cutting to the Chase

BetaNews goes into deep details and analysis, but I'll cut to the chase: Microsoft apparently is making a short-sighted move by essentially favoring Windows-based tablet customers over iPad and Google Android tablet customers who want VDI access to Office and Windows.

That's too bad. Apple sold 15.4 million iPads in its quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011. (New quarterly results will surface after the market closes later today.) Instead of fighting iPads, Microsoft should make it as easy as possible to extend Windows and Office across iPad environments. CIOs, small business customers and MSPs would applaud the move...

Here's the irony of the situation: If Bill Gates was CEO of Microsoft, I suspect he'd bet heavily on iPad application development and VDI support for the iPad -- the same way Microsoft was one of the first software companies to bet heavily on Macintosh software development in the early 1980s.

Yes, Microsoft deserves to profit from its hard work and R&D. But why create artificial advantages for Windows tablets when millions of Microsoft customers want better iPad-Office and iPad-Windows integration (and a level playing field on VDI licensing terms)?

Just last week, I credited Microsoft for extending Windows Intune (the cloud-based PC management service) support out to iPad and Android devices. More recently, we've credited CEO Steve Ballmer for getting much of Microsoft's business back on track. Now, I'm left scratching my head as MSPs are continually forced to adjust their VDI and tablet support strategies because of ill-advised licensing strategies.
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