Microsoft’s Tablet And Smartphone Licensing: Still Counting Devices When The World Only Wants To Count Users

Over the last few years, there have been fantastic advances in technology that have brought us almost a billion smartphones and tablets. These handy mobile computers give us access to our Microsoft Windows and Office products anytime and from anywhere. No longer are we tied to the old clunky desktop device in the office. This is good stuff: It lifts the age-old location-dependent restrictions that meant nothing got done unless you were physically in the office.

There’s only one hitch: Microsoft continues to apply licensing models that count physical devices. Device counting is fine if I have multiple access devices each with their own Windows and Office software versions installed. But when I only have one version of Windows and Office but wish to access that version remotely or virtually via multiple access devices, why should I have to pay more for the privilege? In today’s increasingly cloud-delivered software world that simply counts users not devices, that’s the question more and more people are asking.

Some details: With Windows 8, users that have a "primary device" licensed under a volume agreement with Software Assurance (SA) for Windows can access Windows on- or off-premise on up to 4 devices by buying the new Companion Subscription License (CSL). Prior to the advent of the CSL, each extra device required a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription in order to provide virtual access to their Windows desktop.

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