One of our previous articles examined the Windows Virtual Desktop, also known as WVD for short.  It is a unique way of deploying any physical computers and workstations from On Prem into the Cloud.  There are many strategic advantages to this, some of which include the following:

  • Fixed and affordable pricing: You don’t have to worry about the cost of replacing legacy equipment or separate software licensing issues (these all come as one package with the WVD).
  • Scalability: When compared to On Prem solutions, the scalability is very quick with the WVD, depending upon your needs and requirements.  This can all be done in a matter of a few minutes.
  • Security: You don’t have to worry anymore about applying the latest software patches and upgrades; this is all done for you at the Azure Datacenter or wherever your WVDs are hosted.

But once you get your WVDs up and running, the next item you need to give attention to is the licensing component of it, which is the focal point of this article.  But first, it is also important the types of WVDs you can create, and the factors that affect its pricing.

The Types of WVDs & The Factors Affecting Pricing

There are two types, or instances of a WVD that are available to your business:

  • The Personal Version:

This is designed to be a one to one type of relationship (1:1), in which one user (for example, an employee) is assigned to one WVD.

  • The Pooled Version:

This is designed to be a one to many (1:N) kind of relationship, in which many users can access just one WVD.  Of course, in this scenario, each user will have their own profile and sets of permissions, rights, and privileges when they access the WVD.

The cost that is associated with running a WVD is based upon the actual consumption of resources that the user is utilizing.  The following are some examples of these types of resources:

  • The total number of users per vCPU;
  • The total number of RAM GB assigned to each user;
  • The type of storage that is being used;
  • The total disk capacity of the OS;
  • The total amount of data transfer that transpires between each user;
  • Any uses of Reserved Instances;
  • Other kinds of infrastructure items such as data backup, replication, usage of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), etc.

Breaking Down WVD Licensing

The above cost factors can have an impact upon the kind of licensing that you will want to get for your WVD.

In this regard, there are two types of licensing models that you can get for WVD:

  • The Windows Client Software Assurance (aka SA):

This package is considered to be an upgrade to the Volume Licensing model.  With this, the licensing needs of your business are automatically deployed when you procure at least 5 licenses, but do not require multiple copies of any media that is being used.  Volume Licensing also offers numerous benefits to your organization such as:

  • Cost savings;
  • Scalability;
  • Various kinds of procurement and payment options;
  • Continuous support for your WVD;
  • Any consulting services that you may need.
  • The Virtual Desktop Access (aka VDA):

This kind of model applies to those businesses that do not actually qualify for the above scenario, and also want to make use of other kinds of hardware devices, such as thin clients, computers that are used by external third parties, etc.  This kind of licensing scheme is based upon the total number of devices that are being used that will be created in a virtualized environment.

This is further summarized in the table below:

Kind of License Agreement                 Software Assurance                                VDA

Open Yes Yes
Open Value/Open Value Subscription Yes Yes
Select/Select Plus Yes Yes
Enterprise/Enterprise Subscription Yes Yes
Campus/School Yes No

(SOURCE:  1)

The kind of license solution that is required to run your WVD are in Column #’s 2 and 3, and the Column #1 represents the different kinds of licensing agreements that are available to your business.

In deciding what kind of licensing agreement and model to get for your business when it comes to the VDA, it is important to take note of the following:

  • To get the SA model, you need to work directly with your Microsoft Partner or Reseller;
  • If you want to increase the total number of licenses for the VDA model, these are considered to be just an “add-on”;
  • At the present time, there is no Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) in place for the VDA model. This simply means that this is a subscription-based contract.  It is also deemed to be “non-perpetual” in nature, which means that you cannot access your WVD if your subscription expires or your Azure payment isn’t current;
  • Before the WVD can be accessed, it must first be assigned a license. You cannot allocate the same license to another WVD until 90 days after the license was first issued.  The only exception to this is if your current WVD breaks down for any reason;
  • The primary user of the WVD can access their Virtual Desktop from any other device that they wish to use, thus allowing great “Roaming Flexibility”. But keep in mind that any other user that is not the primary one cannot take advantage of this.


Overall, this article has examined the kinds of WVD environments that are available, as well as the various licensing schemes that are available.  You should always reach out to your Microsoft Partner in order to deploy your licenses in a seamless fashion, and to answer any further questions that you may have.