I heard an interesting rumor this week that Microsoft is planning on updating their licensing model in the near future for Microsoft Office to introduce a virtualization version. The way it was described to me is that if you want to migrate your physical desktops to virtual desktops and run Microsoft Office on them, you will need to purchase a special Office Virtualized Edition.
What I haven’t heard is if this will be an additional license fee for Office or not (the way it was described to me made it sound like it was an additional cost to upgrade your current office to run it on a virtualized desktop).
(Note: I’ve pinged numerous contacts familiar with Microsoft licensing and no one else has heard this…)
Since I am in discussions with a number of my clients about desktop virtualization, I’ve gotten some exposure to the ins and outs of Microsoft licensing. I know that many large enterprises have been pushing Microsoft for a per user licensing model for software applications, and this could very well be just that. Or is this a sign that Microsoft is concerned that virtual desktops could cut into their profit margins and they are taking a proactive stance to prevent that?
After all, if I have 6000 call center workers spread out around the world in three different time zones and they all need to have MS office on their desktop, today I have to pay Microsoft for 6000 Office licenses. With virtual desktops I can run 2000 virtual desktops in a data center that all my call center workers access and only have to pay for 2000 Microsoft Office licenses (as one center shuts down another center spins up and re-uses the same virtual desktop).
Microsoft isn’t going to sit by and lose all that revenue. So hearing about this doesn’t surprise me. It also won’t surprise me if Microsoft ends up charging more for the Virtualized Edition. Which leads one to wonder if this is truely a new licensing version or just a virtualization penalty? Time will tell…