Posted by: Mike Chase 2 years, 1 month ago

Most of us in the know have been wondering how ONLive was delivering a Windows 7 hosted desktop for $4.99/mo. Now (finally), Microsoft is wondering too. We knew it was non-compliant—price-point and instant provisioning were the giveaway.

Due to Windows 7 complex licensing restrictions, a coordinated customer engagement is required for licensing and cloud infrastructure compliance. Yes, you read that right - the Windows 7 license determines the cloud provider’s architecture. Complex to say the least. And not all cloud providers have the expertise in licensing to address these complexities, which could help explain how some cloud providers are offering Windows 7 hosted desktop for free (or next to free) and near instant provisioning. You know what they say: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Don’t be fooled; in this case, free (or next to free) definitely has a cost.

As you look deeper into your company’s cloud strategy, one topic is increasingly dominating your discussion. A topic that is probably the main reason that your cloud strategy has a time frame as long as it does. Dreaded licensing! Ask ten people the same question, and you’re bound to receive ten answers. We’ve all gone through that, right? Your head explodes, you suffer a meltdown, you try to read up on it yourself, and you come to the conclusion: this is ANNOYING!

And that’s just understanding the labyrinth that is Microsoft licensing. Now you’re told that Windows 7 isn’t even available on the Microsoft Service License Provider Agreement price list.

The price point for ONLive’s virtual hosted Windows 7 desktop offerings wouldn’t even cover the necessary Microsoft licensing requirements, much less the cloud infrastructure needed to support a Windows 7 hosted virtual desktop, unless you’re not following licensing and infrastructure requirements to be compliant. If you avoid licensing compliancy and infrastructure requirements, you’ve got yourself a cheap solution. There’s just one problem: it’s illegal.

The question you need to ask yourself is if you were responsible for your company’s datacenter, would you take these risks? My guess is the answer is no.