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Windows licensing question

Posted on 2014-09-29
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Last Modified: 2014-10-04
I have a server that is running free Windows 2012 Hyper-V server
I have 3 Win 8.1 Pro virtual machines running in Hyper-V.
In this scenario, my understanding is that I only need to purchase 3 Win 8.1 Pro (full) licenses for Approx $180 each.
This would essentially create a virtual peer to peer network and each virtual machine could have one user connected via remote desktop.
My incremental software cost to add another virtual machine would be just the $180 for a 4th win 8.1 Pro license.

Now if I decide I need to bring a file server and Active Directory in to the mix, then the licensing would look like this? -

Free Hyper Server  $0
Windows 2012 Server Standard with 5 CALs  - Approx. $750
Windows 8.1 Pro X 4 = $180 x 4 = $720

I realize these scenarios may sound strange, but from a pure licensing standpoint, does it make sense?

Thanks, Kevin.
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Question by:kevinvw1
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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40351520
Unfortunately no. What you are describing is called VDI and Microsoft has very strict licensing guidelines about how to properly license the windows client for virtualized environments. You'll need real workstations with 8.1 and active SA licenses, or you'll need to purchase VDA subscription licenses on a per-device basis to license remote desktops running on a server. Either way, your cost is going to be quite a bit higher than you are projecting.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 40351667
Maybe you should wait for Windows 9... There have been rumors that it could maybe be free, or at least cheap, and that may also involve some license changes that could make it at least cheaper for virtual environments. Today m$ has an event where it is probably going to be shown, and after that there should probably be a release candidate you can download and run for a limited time. In October the official version is probably going to be released.

It may be worth checking the news today.
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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40351696
I would not expect significant VDI changes. Anything is possible, but I'd be surprised in the VDI space. I also would not expect a final release in October.  Microsoft consistently gives developers far more lead time before gold code. To release in October, gold would already have to be in major OEMs hands such as Dell or HP, and likely would have leaked in full. Chances are slim.

And as an aside, calling them m$ is sad from someone trying to claim informed advice on their products. If you don't like Microsoft, that's fine. But then don't use (or claim to be an expert) on their systems. Move on and be a Linux expert. Childish acronyms do not contribute to the professionalism in I.T.
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Author Comment

by:kevinvw1
ID: 40352222
Hi Cliff,  you mention having real windows workstations with 8.1 and active SA licenses.

The users that will be remoting in will have real windows workstations with 8.1.
Do you know why I would need SA licenses?  
I thought SA was just a recurring payment that allows you to keep getting upgrades?

So, in theory, I can install free Hyper-V server on a box with no special licensing and no cost.
And, in theory, I can go buy a full Windows 8.1 Pro license for < $200.
But as soon as I virtualize the 8.1 on the Hyper-V, I need some other kind of additional license?
Is it even possible from a licensing perspective to do something as simple as that?
And furthermore, if I wish to actually remote in to the 8.1, I will need a different kind of license?
(even though windows 8.1 Pro supports remote desktop as a host.)

My concern is that even if I called Microsoft, I couldn't get a straight answer from them...

Thanks, Kevin.
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Author Comment

by:kevinvw1
ID: 40352245
So I found more info on VDA and I think I understand the basics.

If I buy something like this -
http://www.pcconnection.com/product/microsoft-corp.-select-virtual-desktop-access-vda-subscription-level-d-12-months-annual-billing/4zf-00030/13799333

do I still need to buy a full Windows 8.1 Pro license as well ?
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Accepted Solution

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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
ID: 40352936
If you buy VDA subscriptions, you don't buy the full 8.1 license. But you need a VDA subscription for every device that will be connecting. It isn't one per VM. It is one per end-point. That may be an important consideration when deciding between VDA and SA.  SA has been more than just a payment plan for years. Windows enterprise edition is, for example, an SA-only benefit.
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Author Closing Comment

by:kevinvw1
ID: 40361425
I called PcConnection and talked to one of their Microsoft licensing specialists.  They basically told be exactly what you said.
I just need to buy the $100/device/year subscription and that allows the device to connect to up to 4 VMs.

What the guy wasn't sure about is where you get the actual OS installer.
Assuming you have no software whatsoever and you download and install free Hyper-V, then you purchase a VDA subscription, does Microsoft then give you access to ISO images for installing the desktop OSes ?

Thanks,

Kevin.
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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40361698
Yes. Because one of the things many VDI scenarios offer is farms where a VM can spin up on different hosts, it needs an OS install that won't panic about activation. VDA subs are done through VL, so media and activation options have historically bern provided via VLSC.
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