Virtualization Technology News and Information
Vista Enterprise: Licensing FAQ for Virtualization

While I haven't seen this officially posted at Microsoft or through Microsoft, I found this while reading and thought I would share it with you.  These Vista Enterprise licensing FAQs for virtualization are brought to you from James Senior's Blog site, where he writes about technical and business stuff relating to Windows Vista, Business Intelligence, SQL Server and other cool technologies.  He is a Microsoft employee in the UK working as a Technical Specialist. 


Q. What does licensing rights to 4 virtual operating systems mean and why is this valuable for customers?

A. Customers who deploy Windows Vista Enterprise receive a new benefit: the ability to install up to four copies of the operating system in a virtual machine for a single user on a single device. This new benefit, coupled with the free availability of Virtual PC provides Enterprise customers with the most economical means to address application compatibility and other scenarios using virtualization. Customers who do not deploy Vista Enterprise and wish to use the operating system in a virtual machine are required to purchase a license of Windows Vista for every copy installed in a virtual machine. Customers who deploy Vista Enterprise receive 4 installs in a virtual machine in addition to the installation on the device as part of only one license.

Virtual PC 2004 is available for download by all customers and the additional operating system right will become available in conjunction with the volume licensing availability of Windows Vista (11/06).

Q. What are the business scenarios of four additional operating systems per user?

A. Business scenarios include:

  • Application compatibility remains a valuable scenario for companies with vital legacy applications during migration to Windows Vista
  • Development and testing – Running several operating systems in virtual machines improves efficiency and cost for testing and developing applications that run on various operating systems
  • Training scenarios – Companies can preset various training scenarios on a variety of operating systems
  • Help Desk scenarios- Help desks will now require only 1 physical machine to solve multiple OS and application issues

Enterprise customers can exercise their downgrade rights to run several different operating systems within virtual machines with Windows Vista Enterprise as the host. The addition of four virtual operating systems is designed to cover a majority of customer scenarios.


Q. What are the requirements for using the licensing rights to 4 virtual operating systems benefit?

A. Requirements are as follows:

  • Customers may run any prior version of Vista Business (XP Pro, 2KPro, or Win98) or even WinFLP on the same PC at the same time
  • The licensed device may only be used by 1 user at a time; the guest virtual machines may not be accessed remotely by another user.
  • You may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker in a virtualized environment.
  • Additionally, Microsoft advises against playing or accessing content or using applications protected by other digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other rights management services or using full volume disk drive encryption in a virtualized environment.
  • You may use Vista Business, Vista Enterprise, Vista Ultimate or any prior version in any of the 4 virtualized environments
  • Only Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, or third-party product may be used to run the hardware virtualization software and to service the virtual hardware systems

Q. Is this good for Vista Enterprise customers?

A. Yes. With this change customers get the valuable right to install four additional copies of the operating system in virtual machines for one user on one device. For all other Windows Vista customers a license for the operating system is required for every virtual machine installation.

Q. What are the cost benefits associated with the new Vista Enterprise?

A. Customers who deploy Windows Vista Enterprise receive considerable value, the right to install 4 copies of the operating system in a virtual machine, as part of a single license. Customers without Windows Vista Enterprise need to purchase a license for each.

Q. When will Vista Enterprise customers be able to take advantage of their additional rights to 4 installs?

A. Customers will be able to take advantage of the additional install rights with the launch of Windows Vista Enterprise.

Q. Do customers need to deploy Windows Vista Enterprise to take advantage of this new right?

A. The four operating system right is uniquely available to customers who deploy either Windows Vista Enterprise or non-Windows virtualization stacks. For example, this right is not available to customers who deploy Windows XP or Vista Business as the host operating system.

Q. Does this new licensing apply to network centric scenarios?

A. No. This licensing applies to use on a single device by a single user. Network centric scenarios involve installation of multiple virtual machines on a network server or blade pc to support multiple users. Windows is not a multiple user operating system and this new benefit does not apply to these scenarios.

Q. What are you doing for network centric scenarios?

A. We are evaluating various licensing solutions for Windows Vista to further enable support as a guest in network centric scenarios.

Q. Can I use the new 4 VM licensing for multiple users?

A. No. This technology only applies to a single user on a single physical device per Windows Vista license. Window Server is suited for that scenario.

Published Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:41 AM by David Marshall
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