Changes To Licensing For Enterprise App Sideloading in Windows 8.1

The Windows 8.1 Update, with changes to volume licensing, is bringing changes to the licensing of Enterprise Sideloading.

Sideloading is where you can use a tool like Windows Intune to push a custom developed/acquired “Metro” app onto Windows without using the Microsoft Store. Note that Intune can also do this with iOS (free license) and Android (not looked into the licensing). The solution is nice. If the device is IT-owned, then IT enrolls the device. If it’s a BYO device, then the user electively enrols to Windows Intune via the Company Store app. And IT then publishes the custom app (and can link Store apps) to the portal that users can pull down. It’s basically a private app store for enrolled devices.

Prior to May 1st 2014, Enterprise Sideloading requires per-device licensing. And it’s pricey. In fact, it’s only sold in blocks of 100 devices. When you compare that to the free option from Apple, then that iPad or iPhone looked cheap when you needed to push sideloaded apps to your devices. This made Windows devices expensive and the 100-minimum purchase was a blocker for smaller deployments.

That all changes on May 1st 2014. According to a blog post by Microsoft:

In May, we will grant Enterprise Sideloading rights to organizations in certain Volume License programs, regardless of what product they purchase, at no additional cost. Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights for an unlimited number of devices through Volume Licensing at approximately $100. For additional information on sideloading licensing, review the Windows Volume Licensing Guide.

The Windows 8.1 Volume Licensing Guide goes on to say that the following editions of Windows can sideload:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro Update (that’s Windows 8.1 Pro with the Windows 8.1 Update, by the way)
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise

The machines must be domain joined and have a policy setting enabled. That setting is Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > and then App Package Deployment > Allow all trusted apps to install [TRUE].

Back to the licensing

Customers can also enable Enterprise Sideloading of trusted Windows 8.1 apps on Windows RT 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise devices that are not domain-joined by using a Volume Licensing Multiple Activation Key (MAK).

OK, what does this all cost? If you are signed up to one of the below licensing schemes then Enterprise Sideloading will be free from May 1st 2014:

  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Subscription Agreement
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (under a Campus and School Agreement
  • School Enrollment
  • Select and Select Plus

Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights through the Open License program as of May 1, 2014. These rights include the ability to sideload on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices. MAKs for these customers will be made available through the VLSC.

This license will be $100 for an unlimited number of devices.

So in short:

  • The ability to distribute custom apps via Enterprise Sideloading is added to Windows 8.1 Pro via the Windows 8.1 Update.
  • The license for Enterprise Sideloading is free to those larger customers that are enrolled to an applicable large customer volume license agreement.
  • Anyone else can get the Enterprise Sideloading license for an unlimited number of devices for $100 through an Open volume license program.

Good news, I would say.

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Veeam ESX Monitoring for SCOM

At yesterday’s VMware event, I wandered over to the Veeam stand to get myself a demo of their nworks Management Pack for VMware.  This allows OpsMgr (System Center Operations Manager 2007) to natively monitor ESX(i) without installing an agent on the host, with or without vSphere.  They fired up an RDP session and gave me a guided tour.  I was impressed with the solution.  It had all you would expect from an OpsMgr monitored object: alerts, knowledge base, diagrams, and reports.

This reinforces the fact that even if you do deploy ESXi then this does not rule out the use of what I believe to be the best monitoring solution out there (even if it is my job to convince you of that!).  With the nworks management pack and OpsMgr, you can include the mainframe-important-like virtualisation layer in the management of your hardware, operating system, services, application, and SLA stack.

BTW, if you are an SME then you can also use this management pack with System Center Essentials.

System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 RTM

OpsMgr 2007 R2 has been released to manufacturing with a GA date of July 1st.  You can download a trial now.  There is an overview of this new production and a what is new document as well.

The big thing in OpsMgr 2007 R2 is the inclusion of Cross Platform Extensions.  This gives you the ability to monitor UNIX and Linux using agents and basic management packs provided by Microsoft as a part of the product.  3rd parties will still continue to offer more complete management packs.

SLA (Service Level Agreement) reporting has also been included as opposed to being a bolt-on in the current 2007 release.

I’m really hoping someone from MS publishes an official guide on how to do an in-place upgrade from 2007 to 2007 R2.


I’ve just found a video on upgrade and deployment best practices.

And documentation can be downloaded from here (including deployment guide).

EDIT #2:

Wow, the upgrade is complex.  Make sure you read all 63 pages of the upgrade guide.  I’ve a funny feeling I’ll be working a long weekend for this “mini” project.

TechNet Webcast: Operations Manager 2007 R2 Deployment and Upgrade Best Practices

“Join us for this informative session on deploying Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager 2007, where you will gain useful insights into what worked, as well as what didn’t, when deploying Operations Manager 2007 into different environments. You will have the opportunity to learn best practices for setup (including recommended approaches for disaster recovery and high availability), running Operations Manager in a virtualized environment, and more.

For more information and to register online visit TechNet Webcast”.

This is a recorded webcast featuring the soon-to-RTM version of OpsMgr 2007 R2 that includes the much anticipated Cross Platform Extensions with support for Linux and UNIX.

How to Extend the Certificate Expiration period in Operations Manager 2007

The MS folks posted a method to extend the validity of certificates used for agents or gateways in OpsMgr 2007.  You use certificates to authenticate non-forest members because they are in a different Kerberos realm.  The default validity is only 1 year – that’s pretty short if you’re using agents to authenticate lots of agents like I am.

OpsMgr Alert: Service Check Data Source Module Failed Execution

I got this alert from the SQL 2005 management pack this afternoon.  A quick google and I found some answers on the TechNet forums.  This alert will occur on SQL servers that don’t have full text indexing installed.  An MS engineer posted that the SQL management pack mightn’t be the cleanest of them.  True enough; I’ve overridden a few unnecessary alerts today.

Error: 0x8007007b

Details: The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect.

One or more workflows were affected by this.

Workflow name: Microsoft.SQLServer.2005.DBEngine.FullTextSearchServiceMonitor

Installing The OpsMgr Active Directory 2008 Management Pack

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 has a management pack (bundled expertise) for Active Directory.  This blog post gives a step-by-step from download to troubleshooting of this management pack.  The AD management pack can be troublesome – not because of the management pack itself but because of the environment it will monitor.  This guide tells you how to avoid some of the potential issues and fix some common problems.


Monitoring Untrusted Servers Over The Internet Using OpsMgr 2007

Walter Chomak wrote a good article to help people avoid a gotchya when monitoring un-trusted servers over the Internet using Operations Manager 2007 and the Gateway.  This applies equally when using OpsMgr and agents with certificates.  You need to be sure that the cert is for the actual FQDN of the server and that OpsMgr addresses the agent by the FQDN of the agent server.  Set up name resolution using DNS or hosts files.

Credit: Walter Chomak.