Windows 10 licensing for Virtual Desktops-August 2020
Windows 10 licensing – Summary
Windows 10 can be used to deploy secure and centrally managed virtual desktops to workers at scale. Customers looking to virtualize Windows 10 have a variety of ways to deploy and license their virtual machines (VMs). This brief
describes how to license Windows 10 running on VMs.
• This brief addresses Windows 10 licensing for Microsoft Commercial Licensing customers only. For the purposes of this brief, Commercial Licensing programs include all Volume License programs, CSP, and the Microsoft Customer Agreement. Windows 10 licensed solely through your OEM device generally does not include virtualization entitlements, with some exceptions. Please see your OEM license agreement for more details.
• This brief solely addresses Windows 10 virtualization. It does not cover virtualized Windows Server sessions,
or the licenses needed to access virtualized Windows Server sessions (e.g. Windows Server CALs & RDS CALs).
Generally, and with limitations found below, you must have one of the following licenses to run and access a virtual
machine running Windows 10:
• Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
• Windows 10 Education A3/A5
• Windows 10 Education Student Use Benefit
• Windows 10 Enterprise per device with Software Assurance
• Windows VDA E3/E5
• Windows VDA per device
• Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5
• Microsoft 365 A3/A5
• Microsoft 365 Business Premium
User licenses allow licensed users to access Windows 10 VMs from any device. Device licenses allow any user of
the device to access Windows 10 VMs from the licensed device
Windows 10 licensing – Virtualization Methods
How you can virtualize Windows 10 depends on your license, your licensing program, and the means of virtualization. Different licenses and licensing programs confer different virtualization entitlements. The below sections explain which licenses and Commercial Licensing programs offer which virtualization entitlements.
Windows 10 can be virtualized using three primary methods:
• Windows Virtual Desktop
• On-premises server or server dedicated to the customer, including those managed by an outsourcer
• Azure or Qualified Multitenant Hosting (QMTH) partner infrastructure
Windows Virtual Desktop
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service running on Azure. It’s the only virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that delivers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimizations for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments.
WVD allows you to deploy and scale your Windows 10 desktops and apps on Azure in minutes with built-in security and compliance features.
• To use and access WVD desktops, users must be licensed with an eligible user license. Per device licenses are not eligible for WVD running Windows 10.
• Eligible licenses acquired through all Commercial Licensing programs include the entitlement to virtualize on WVD.
On-premises server or outsourcer server virtualization
You can run Windows 10 virtual machines on your own on-premises server or on a server dedicated to you that is managed by an outsourcer. However, if the outsourcer is not deemed an Authorized Outsourcer (see definition below), only Windows VDA E3/E5 licenses confer virtualization entitlements. Eligible licensed users or devices may access up to four virtual machines.
Authorized Outsourcers are 3rd parties designated by Microsoft as qualified to host and manage virtualized instances of your software on servers that are dedicated to you. Authorized Outsourcers are all 3rd party hosters that are not designed as “Listed Providers” in the document found here: https://aka.ms/ListedProviders. Windows 10 licensing for Virtual Desktops
To use and access Windows 10 virtual machines via this method,
1) Users or devices must be licensed with an eligible license,
2) Licensed users or devices must have a Qualifying Operating System (QOS) or be licensed with VDA, and
3) Your licenses must have been acquired through an eligible Commercial Licensing program.
Azure or Qualified Multitenant Hosting Partner Infrastructure
You can run Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel virtual machines on Azure infrastructure (dedicated or multitenant) or servers provided by a Qualified Multitenant Hosting (QMTH) Partner. Each eligible licensed user is entitled to access up to four virtual machines.
Windows 10 licensing – Scenarios
The following examples illustrate how you can license Windows 10 virtual machines in different environments.
Windows 10 licensing – Summary Table
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