Microsoft licensing FAQ: Watching Windows 8, BYOD and the cloud

Microsoft licensing rules have always been complex, but IT might not know how they apply to VDI and mobile devices. As Windows 8 and Office 15 approach, see whether you comply.

Most enterprise IT shops already know that Microsoft's software licensing rules are notoriously complicated, but it's important to inform all employees of how Microsoft licensing affects them through everything from budgeting to procurement and asset management.

What's the cost of not watching software licenses closely?

It may be tempting to license Microsoft server software per desktop, for example, but expenses can mount if you're not careful. The number of Microsoft products available, the difficulty of tracking licenses and the ability for enterprises to easily fall out of compliance are hindering the desktop virtualization market. Still, IT can learn best practices for managing licensing for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Why do I need to worry about Windows licensing?

As enterprises standardize on Windows 7, they should be aware of complications from its multiple predecessors and editions. Fortunately, there are tools to help avoid common Windows 7 problems. In fact, it's not a bad idea to start planning for Windows 8 licensing now. There isn't yet a version of Office for the iPad, but Microsoft Office 15 will also include licensing changes.

How does Microsoft licensing apply to mobile devices?

Although Apple and Android devices dominate the tablet market, it's worth knowing the rules that apply to Microsoft Office and finding ways to reduce costs. In addition, app stores can help with license compliance and negotiating license terms.

What about bring your own device (BYOD) programs and Microsoft licensing?

Software licenses can be violated by the developing technologies of BYOD and bring your own PC (BYOPC). Windows To Go enables a Windows 8 image and associated business apps to be booted from a Universal Serial Bus stick, so control over this portability is a concern. Enterprises can avoid licensing problems by looking closely at Microsoft's complex rules for Windows 8 and VDI, cloud computing, and mobile devices and making sure they keep proper track of assets and applicable rules.

This was first published in May 2012

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