Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Licensing

During this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, Microsoft announced 2 new VDI licensing models. Although this is pretty big news if you’re in that space, VDI isn’t really a technology of the masses so this news hasn’t been hugely reported-but hopefully I can change that just a little bit 🙂

There are two new licences available:

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Standard Suite

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Premium Suite

Microsoft’s aim is for these to

“make it simple for customers to purchase the comprehensive Microsoft VDI technologies while providing excellent value compared with competing VDI offerings.”

What do they include?

Both version contain the essential products for setting up, configuring and managing an efficient and effective VDI environment:

  • Hyper-V Server
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • System Center Configuration  Manager (SCCM)
  • System Center Operations Manager (SCOM)
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL (formerly Terminal Service CAL)
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) <– Further clarification shows that MDOP is an optional extra.

The Premium version will also include:

  • Additional use rights for RDS
  • App-V for RDS


“enable mixed environments with not only VM-based remote desktops, but also session-based desktops and applications.”

The RDS CALs in the Standard bundle can only be used for VDI and not regular Terminal Server instances or “session based desktops” as they’re known now.

Once you have one of these bundles, the only other thing  you need to correctly licence VDI is Virtual/Vista Enterprise Centralised Desktop (VECD)-for more info on that see my other post here.

How is it licensed?

The licensing could have become quite complicated as the components can be licensed in various ways but, quite possibly in reaction to general feedback on licensing, have made this nice and simple:

“As with VECD, the number of VDI Suite licenses equals the total number of client devices that accesses the VDI environment.”

Also, as it’s a subscription you’ll always be up to date with new releases.

What does it cost?

The licences are set to be made available in Q4 2009 so from October onwards. The only pricing I’ve seen is in dollars (and not a definite final figure) but that is $21 per year per device for Standard and $53 for premium…that is some awesome pricing! Even if the usual “swap the $ for a £” happens, that’s still much cheaper than licensing them separately and it seems much cheaper than competitors (i.e. VMWare).


This is a great move on Microsoft’s part and will really help drive VDI adoption-particularly in the mid-market sector as it’s not only more cost effective but much easier to manage than buying the components separately.

The Technet blog article can be found here and thanks to Brian Madden too.

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