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Will Microsoft Unlock Desktop Licensing on Azure with Windows 9?

It's hard to imagine Microsoft holding on to its current Windows desktop licensing model for much longer. As the company doubles down on cloud and as Azure builds momentum, Microsoft will look to build more services to improve Azure in the enterprise.

In a recent survey that my company conducted internally with customers (mind you, company sizes ranged from 1,000 employees to about 25K employs), about half said DRaaS was their top priority. A surprising 25 percent said they were going for DaaS and the rest were were looking at IaaS and some other services. Now I am not claiming that our survey is an indicator for what is going on in the market as whole, but considering the markets I service, I would consider it to be fairly accurate.

Now if you also consider that Windows has all but lost momentum as a desktop operating system with consumers and in the enterprise, as evidenced by significantly depressed PC sales reports but also by simply observing the nature of meetings, I can tell you that in 90 percent of the meetings I am in, the Apple MacBook is the dominant laptop.

So how does Microsoft turn this around? Well, I am a huge believer in Microsof. They have always come from behind and they have always managed to get it right and I don't think the current situation is doomed. On the contrary, with some creative thinking Microsoft could maintain its pole position in the enterprise. And the answer lies with Azure.

Enterprises like the consumption model and many services have moved to the cloud: e-mail, collaboration. Why not come out with a DaaS model that would work? Here is what I envision.

If Microsoft unlocked Windows desktop licensing with Windows 9 and made it so that when you purchase a Windows 9 license you automatically get a trial 60 VDI instance that runs on Azure, that would be cool right? But it is not a game changer, it's déjà vu -- we kind of have that today with Remote Desktop Services themed to look like Windows 7. But what if as part of that service Microsoft also couples it with a synchronization engine so that the VDI instance running in Azure is a replica of what is running on your desktop or laptop? And what if you could connect to that VDI instance at any time, and if you make changes on your VDI instances, those difference blocks are then synchronized with your laptop or desktop once that is online? I don't know about you, but I would absolutely love that feature.

Offer the same engine and products to the enterprise, maybe the synchronization engine becomes part of System Center? That is just one example that I find interesting. I am sure there are so many other features that could be integrated to make it even more attractive, but the bottom line is that Microsoft cannot hold on to market share by simply denying Service Provider access to Windows desktop licensing. And evolving is inevitable, so why not build a service that your consumers want and that would help you sell more Windows licenses and maintain leadership?

We can debate to death whether VDI has a future, but it's a certainty that VDI will be present in some shape in every enterprise. As for physical desktops without cloud integration -- which I consider the new "dumb terminals" -- why not integrate with cloud and evolve the OS?

What are your thoughts? Would you buy a service like the one I just described? Please share in the comments.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 07/22/2013 at 1:24 PM


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