8867.Microsoft_5F00_Logo_2D00_for_2D00_screenWe quite often get asked the same question every once in a while: “How much do Microsoft licenses cost for implementing Virtual Desktops, VDI, DaaS or getting a cloud based/hosted desktop solution?”

Our response has more or less been the same so we thought to make it readily available for everyone here. Depending on the type of solution that you have finalized for your environment, the licensing for Virtual Desktops varies. Here’s how:

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

If your solution entails getting Virtual Desktops through Microsoft RDS then essentially what you are doing is allowing your users to connect to a Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012 session. This solution allows multiple users to access the same OS installed on a single piece of hardware or a Virtual Machine on any hypervisor such as Citrix XenServer, VMware v-Sphere or Hyper-v. The licensing needs for such a solution are:

  1. OS license for Windows Server 2012 R2. This price will vary depending on the version you select i.e. Standard or Datacenter. You can get more information here.
  2. You will need a Client Access License or CAL for every device or user that will connect to the Server OS. For more information on the type of CAL which is best suited for your needs click here.
  3. You will also need an RDS CAL for every user or device that connects to the Server OS for establishing a Remote Desktop Session. Here is a link to the RDS licensing guide.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

There are many scenarios where you would opt to not go the RDS route and need your users to access a Windows Desktop Operating System such as Windows 7 or Windows 8. In this case depending on whether you are covered under Software Assurance (SA) or not, the licensing cost varies.

  1. If you are not covered under Software Assurance i.e. your thin client devices are either not covered or eligible to be part of the Windows Client Software Assurance, then you need to buy a subscription license which is priced at $100 per device per year. This is known as Microsoft VDA or Virtual Desktop Access.
  2. If your client devices are covered under software assurance then you do not need an additional license. You can get more details on Microsoft’s SA here. Windows Embedded 8.1 is covered under SA and can be used as the OS on a Thin Client.

You should also be aware that if you use any thin client which does not have Windows Embedded 8.1 or any OS that is not covered under the Windows Client Software Assurance for that matter then you have to buy the VDA license. Moreover, if you choose to go with a zero client using a VDI Solution from any provider, you will most certainly have to get a VDA license per device.

If you’re looking for a VDI Solution with all the bells and whistles yet want a cost effective solution give us a shout at info@vdiworks.com. We’ll be happy to help.