Cloud computing has a plethora of jargon and terminology that can be hard to get your head round. To help customers considering using a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution we have drawn together a number of frequently asked questions relating to DaaS and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and in particular relating to Microsoft licences.
Can I use a Windows “desktop” operating system like Windows 10 on a DaaS solution?
Most Desktop as a Service, aka Hosted Desktop, providers will use a Windows “Server” operating system on their virtual machines, like Windows Server 2019 or 2016 to provide the desktop virtualisation experience. For 99% of uses this will look and feel identical to a Windows 10 desktop, and will run the same applications. Most users will be unaware they are not using a Windows 10 virtual machine. The only things they will perhaps miss are Cortana and the Microsoft Store applications.
Microsoft themselves are offering Windows 10 desktops on their Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktops. However, this may prove to be a more expensive virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution than independent DaaS services.
Many Desktop as a Service solutions will often include solutions called “RemoteApps” or “RemoteResources” where the individual applications running on the hosted desktops are “streamed” from the data centres to the users local PC so they appear as if they are running on their local desktop which gives a familiar user experience. They can also be presented within a web browser.
Can I run Microsoft Office on a DaaS solution?
Yes, there are several options to run office.
Office – Service Provider Licence Agreement (SPLA)
SPLA is a way to licence the Office Standard or Office Professional suites on month by month rental. It can also be used to just rent single Office applications like Outlook or Excel.
Office – Microsoft 365/Office 365 Subscriptions
Microsoft 365 versions of Office applications can be used on DaaS, depending on the type of cloud service. Most DaaS providers use Windows Remote Desktop Services where the users share a Windows server. In these scenarios the Microsoft 365 subscription will need to include the “Shared Computer Activation” feature. At the time of writing the plans that include this feature are the Enterprise plans:
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise
Office 365 E3/E5
Office 365 Non-Profit E3/E5
Office – Volume Licences
Customers can generally use their own volume licence versions of Office on DaaS systems, they will need to declare these licences to Microsoft and ensure that the number of volume licences they have is sufficient to include the cloud computing remote desktops for each user as well as any local desktops where Office is installed.
Can I use the same Office licence on my local PC as the DaaS desktop?
It depends on the Office licence.
Traditional “Boxed Product” versions of Office cannot be used on a DaaS solution where multiple users share the same virtual machine (Server).
Volume licences can be used, but customers will need separate licences for the local and DaaS desktops.
Microsoft 365 licences can be used on up to 5 devices, which will include the DaaS desktop. As mentioned above, only Enterprise plans will activate on most DaaS solution.
SPLA Office licences cannot be used on your local desktop PC
Do I need Windows Server licences or Windows CALs to use a Desktop as a Service solution?
Yes, DaaS solutions, or any desktop virtualisation running Windows require Windows Server licences or Windows Client Access Licences (CALs).
Many DaaS providers will purchase Windows server licences and then include Windows CALs on a per user basis as part of the package, declaring them to Microsoft on your behalf.
One of the benefits of DaaS is that you don’t need to purchase perpetual licences for Windows CALs, the provider will rent them as you need them allowing you to flex user numbers up and down as needed.
Where the DaaS provider is paying for “Data Centre” licences, i.e. they pay an amount depending on the number of CPU processors on the underlying physical host servers, then they can vary how they charge for these CALs, giving options for just charging for concurrent users for example.
Do I need Microsoft Remote Desktop CALs to use a DaaS solution?
Most DaaS offers use Windows Remote Desktop Services and so will require Remote Desktop CALs for all user accounts, regardless of concurrency.
One of the benefits of DaaS platforms is that the DaaS provider will ensure you have the correct CALs and declare these for you so you don’t need to worry about these licences.
Services such as Azure Windows Virtual Desktop don’t use Remote Desktop CALs but instead incorporate these into other charges such as Office 365 E3 plans.
Do I need to pay for other non-Microsoft licences on a DaaS service?
Yes, just like running software on a PC, running software on a cloud based virtual machine on DaaS platforms requires that each user has the correct licences for the software they are running. Some software vendors will licence on a per user basis, others on a per concurrent user basis. Where licences are designed to be sold per “device” rather than per user you will need to check with the software vendor how the licences will work when using a Desktop as a Service solution, which may, in reality, have several users on one device.
Do I need to buy Anti-Virus licences for DaaS?
Many independent DaaS offers will include managed Anti-virus as part of the cloud service, but do check with the provider. When using Microsoft Azure WVD you need to deploy and manage your own anti-virus, which may or may not be included in your Microsoft 365 plan.
Do I need different licences if I am connecting to Desktop as a Service from a Mac, or a Tablet?
No, the licences used on DaaS platforms are based on the user connecting to it, and are not affected by the device the user is connecting from.
Most “apps” used to connect to cloud based DaaS services are free from relevant app stores, for example the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, or from within a web browser. Some people may wish to pay for 3rd party remote desktop apps that advertise accelerated connection speeds, but in our experience that is rarely necessary.
What licences does Your Office Anywhere include in their Desktop as a Service platform?
The standard DaaS price will include all required Windows CALs and Remote Desktop CALs. It also includes Anti-Virus licences on the server.
Your Office Anywhere can resell Microsoft 365 subscriptions to run Office and other cloud services on the DaaS, as well as locally. We can also rent SPLA licences if more appropriate.
Your Office Anywhere can also resell Anti-virus licences for your local PCs.