On the verge of launching its next operating system, Microsoft has modified its Windows 8 software licensing agreements to encourage enterprise partners to buy and use ARM-based tablets running Windows RT. The company also made it more expensive for companies that use competing products, such as Apple’s iPad or Android tablets, to access Windows virtual desktops, as noted by CRN.
A new volume licensing agreement called Companion Device License (CDL) will give customers rights to access Windows 8 desktops via a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) on up to four personally owned devices. In simplified terms, the CDL allows an employee of a business with Windows 8 volume licensing to use Citrix, VMware, or other remote desktop solutions to access their work desktop from their iPad or Android tablet while on the go or at home.
In current versions of Windows, there is no device restriction for accessing volume-licensed copies of the operating system. Going forward, organizations migrating to Windows 8 will have to purchase the CDL at added cost, with one exception: organizations with employees using Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 custom-designed for ARM-based tablets, will not have to pay extra for the CDL to access virtual desktops from those devices.
“That’s basically a penalty for not buying a Windows RT tablet,” said Paul DeGroot, principal analyst at Pica Communications, a Microsoft licensing consultancy in Camano Island, Wash.
Erwin Visser, senior director for the Windows Commercial Group, had a different take, writing in a blog post that, “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.”
Apple and its iOS devices have dominated the enterprise field in recent quarters, with iPads and iPhones achieving adoption rates significantly higher than those of competing products.
While the market has yet to experience the new hardware that Windows 8 promises, it remains to be seen if Microsoft’s new restrictions for enterprise customers can stem the tide by incentivizing the purchase and use of Windows RT tablets, or if it will further galvanize the market and drive more business to alternative solutions from iOS and Android-friendly software companies.