Microsoft: Roaming Use Rights Discontinued

By Dan Brewster

Director of Client Services – Microsoft, NPI

May 03, 2017

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Roaming Use Rights for the Windows Enterprise operating system and the Windows VDA licenses are discontinued on January 31, 2017 or at the end of a customer’s existing enrollment (whichever is later). What are the implications for you if you’ve recently lost Roaming Use Rights for these products?

It probably makes sense to first understand that Roaming Use Rights were a benefit provided via Software Assurance. This benefit permitted the primary user of a licensed device to access the device remotely, to access a virtualized copy of the operating system locally, or to run a copy of the Windows operating system on a USB drive via Windows to Go.

These are all good things. So why would Microsoft discontinue a Software Assurance benefit? Because this benefit provides “user-like licensing” to the “Primary User” of a device-based license – while licensing (AKA paying fees) on a per-device basis.

It seems clear that Microsoft wants to move everyone to a Per User license model. In fact, the replacement scenario for roaming users is to either purchase a VDA license for each device, or license the Windows Operating System on a Per User basis. You can also purchase a “Windows Per User Add On” license for an existing device license. These models are more in line with Microsoft’s Office 365 offerings and force customers to count users instead of counting devices. From a SAM perspective, Microsoft is telling many customers that it’s easier to count users than devices – which is only partially true.

For those customers with a higher concentration of knowledge workers, where they may have more devices than users, the move to a Per User model makes sense. But it makes less sense for organizations that have multiple users per device. A hospital might have clinical workers that work around the clock and share devices as shifts turn – thus a Per User model doesn’t work so well.

You must do the math for all options to determine the implications of this licensing change. In some cases, the cost differential could be half. Additionally, given the subscription-based approach of many of these options, the fact that companies may need to continue to pay for those subscriptions in perpetuity should be considered.

At the end of the day, this is a price increase for virtualized users and a shift to subscription licensing for a product that has been licensed on a per device basis for, literally, decades.