Windows 8 Enterprise Mobility Rights

I’ve just followed a link that Mary Jo Foley tweeted and that lead me to a broader Windows 8 licensing article called “Introducing Windows 8 Enterprise and Enhanced Software Assurance for Today’s Modern Workforce”.  That article had a section that I found interesting, detailing how companies with Software Assurance for the desktop would be getting additional mobility and usage rights:

  • “Windows To Go Use Rights: Windows To Go will allow companies to support Bring Your Own PC scenarios and will give employees who need to work from home more secure access to their full corporate environment. With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Windows SA as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device license for SA, employees will be able to use WTG on their personal devices at work.
  • Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.
  • Companion Device License (CDL): For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, we are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices”.

Windows To Go is a pretty cool feature.  Long-story-short: you can install Windows 8 Enterprise onto a USB 3.0 stick and then plug that into any USB 3.0 capable machine (assuming the drivers are there for PNP) to boot that machine up.  The idea is that a business can build these sticks and give them to employees to enable bring your own device (BYOD) while still using a corporate build of Windows.  Teamed up with Network Access Protection (NAP), you could isolate the non-corporate OEM Windows installs on the network (should the employee boot from the on-disk install instead of the USB 3.0 one) and give “unrestricted” access to the USB 3.0 boot image (for normal corporate resource access).

At the moment, setting up Windows To Go and deploying it is command line messing with WAIK.  I’d suspect MSFT will give us an updated deployment tool that enables driver and update injection so we can automatically handle many models of hardware.

Windows RT is what we briefly called Windows on ARM (WOA), the OEM-only build of Windows 8 for ARM based tablets.  If you use one of these as a secondary device to a SA covered desktop then you’ll get VDI rights for this device.  That’s cool!  Windows 8 Enterprise (SA) per desktop (not for the RT tablet) gives that PC rights to access VDI.  Without SA for the tablet, the company would have had to license it with the per-device VDA which would be very costly.

For non-Windows companion devices, such as the iPad, there will be an optional add-on called CDL.  We don’t know the price of that – I suspect GA for Windows 8 will be October so I’d expect LARs and distributors will have updated price lists on October 1st.  When you attach CDL to a PC’s software assurance, you will entitle up to 4 personally owned companion devices (iPad, iPhone, etc) of that PC to access Windows based VDI or Windows To Go.  This is an improvement … right now personally owned devices probably should have VDA.  With the estimate being that tech savvy employees personally own 4-5 of these devices, that could be very expensive for the company.  CDL will greatly reduce that cost.

It sounds to me that corporate owned devices will still require VDA.

Right now, all we have is a single light on detail blog post to go on.  We’ll have to wait until MSFT updates their licensing training and Product Usage Rights (PUR) for Windows 8 to get the specifics.

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