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How to understand Microsoft Office licences on Citrix virtual machines

New Roaming Use Rights help sort Microsoft licences in virtual einvironment

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Microsoft Office, Visio and Project are all device licensed applications. This means that a device holds the licence, not the user. So every device that uses one of these products has to hold a licence for the product.

That can make for an expensive proposition for companies who allow their users to access these applications via Citrix or Microsoft Application Virtualisation (aka App-V or fka Softgrid) if that access isn't limited to devices already licensed for those same applications. If users access these applications through Remote Desktop Services from their home computer, a loaner laptop or the computer at the hotel then suddenly those devices now need a licence.

Companies that have maintained Software Assurance (SA) benefits on their applications have had access to a solution for the home computer situation for quite a while but now as of the July 1, 2010 Microsoft Product Use Rights (PUR) they finally have a solution for these other situations as well without having to purchase more licences.

To quote:  "…and Software Assurance for all editions of Office, Project and Visio to include Roaming Use Rights.  These new Roaming Use Rights will help to facilitate your users’ use of your virtual desktop infrastructure while they are away from the office.  The Roaming Use Rights permit the primary user of a licensed device to remotely access licensed software running in your datacenter from qualified third party devices.  In the case of Windows, Office, Project and Visio, these rights also permit the primary user’s use of the licensed software in a virtual machine on a qualified third party device…"

Example 1:

A nationwide consulting firm assigns all users a laptop licensed for Microsoft Windows Enterprise and Microsoft Office Professional Plus. Additionally all users have Microsoft User CALs for Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and Remote Desktop Services as well as Citrix licensing.

The consulting firm licences all Microsoft software with Software Assurance. Due to the nature of the business their users are frequently on client sites using client’s desktops. However; they often need to access their own company’s resources to collaborate with co-workers using Microsoft Office software. Due to the new “Roaming Use Rights”, they can now access their Citrix environment to run Office Professional from their client’s computer without need for additional licensing.

Example 2:

A nationwide consulting firm assigns all users a laptop licensed for Microsoft Windows Enterprise and Microsoft Office Professional Plus. Additionally all users have Microsoft User CALs for Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and Remote Desktop Services as well as Citrix licensing. The consulting firm does not licence their Microsoft software with Software Assurance. Due to the nature of the business their users are frequently on client sites using client’s desktops. However; they often need to access their own company’s resources to collaborate with co-workers using Microsoft Office software. Since they do not have the “Roaming Use Rights” benefit of Software Assurance, any of these computers that doesn’t have the same or greater version/edition of Office would need to be licensed resulting in potentially unknown numbers of additional licences required.

Be sure to note that this applies only to "…the primary user of a licensed device to remotely access licensed software running in your datacenter from qualified third party devices" so situations where the licensed device is shared amongst users (no primary user), the software is running somewhere other than your datacenter or the device is not a third party device (for example it is owned by your company or an affiliate) are not covered by the new Roaming Use Rights.


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