Desktop Virtualisation Part 2 – Windows Vista Enterprise Centralised Desktop – VECD

VECD – Hot Hot Hot

Desktop Virtualisation licensing made easy

So we have covered off Windows Vista Enterprise and Remote Boot, lets discuss VECD

We have created two new licensing products in Volume Licensing so that customers can license the Windows desktop operating system for use in virtual machine environments deployed in a centralized data centre environment

These products permit access remotely by either traditional PCs licensed for Windows Vista with Software Assurance or thin-client devices not licensed for the Windows desktop PC operating system. VECD for SA and VECD are licensed on a per-device, non-perpetual, subscription basis.

For PCs licensed for Windows Vista with Software Assurance there is the VECD for Software Assurance offering. For thin clients, there is the VECD only offering.

Installation rights: You may install unlimited copies of the software on a network server or remote storage device, at any one time, you may run no more than four copies in virtual machines (or otherwise emulated hardware systems) and remotely access those on the licensed device. Despite the allowance of more than one copy, use of the software is limited to one user at a time.


Licensing Options and Program Availability

VECD for PCs – Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop for Software Assurance: VECD for Software Assurance is a Windows Vista Enterprise license that is intended for customers who wish to procure VECD for their Software Assurance-covered traditional PCs (or similarly licensed diskless PCs).

The eligibility requirement to purchase VECD for Software Assurance is that the licensed PC for which VECD is being purchased must be covered with active Software Assurance for Windows.

VECD for Thin Clients – Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop VECD for Thin Client is a Windows Vista Enterprise license that is intended for customers who have or plan to have thin clients as the primary accessing device but do not have Software Assurance for Windows on those thin clients.

Editions: You may use Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, or Windows Vista Ultimate or a prior version for any of the additional copies permitted above.

Program Availability: Select, Enterprise, Open Value, School and Campus

Pricing Guide: Always check pricing with an authorised reseller


So what if I have PCs that don’t have Windows Vista and SA but I want to centrally manage and avail of VECD?


See below:


If you do not have Software Assurance for rich client PCs and have no plans in getting Software Assurance,  you can I license VECD for thin-clients the VECD SKU

that is designed for thin clients includes built-in software assurance. Bear in mind that long term the most cost effective option would be to buy an upgrade license +

SA + VECD for SA for each of those PCs



*What if I want to run VMs prepared by IT personnel on a user’s desktop PC instead of a central server?


VMs on local computers. VMs licensed using either VECD subscription can be executed only on a server; existing VECD rules prohibit running these VMs locally on the user’s device. Starting in January, users of a company-owned client device licensed with either type of VECD subscription will get the additional right to run one VECD-licensed VM at a time on their VECD-licensed work machines as well as their home computers.


For example, an employee who usually accesses his work desktop environment via a remote connection to a VM running on a server can now access this environment at home by copying the VM image to a flash USB device and running it on his home PC using Virtual PC.



*What if I want to license computers not owned by the purchasing organization?


Non-company computers. VECD subscriptions currently can’t be used to license client devices not owned by the organization from January, this restriction will be removed and customers can use VECD for TC subscription (as opposed to the VECD for SA subscription) to be purchased for these devices. This change will be valuable in two situations.


·         Organizations will be allowed to purchase VECD subscription licenses for PCs owned by contractors

·         Some organizations don’t buy PCs for employees but reimburse them for personal purchases; the new rule will permit such organizations to cover employee-owned PCs with VECD.


Note: However VECD for SA subscription license will remain restricted to devices owned by the organization that buys the license.


 *Changes take effect Jan 2009



  1. 1) If I have Vista Enterprise + SA, do I have VECD for SA, or I have to license something more?  (As far as I got, NO, I have to buy VECD for SA now if I need it, even if I have Vista Enterprise + SA)2) If I do like Vista Ultimate, is there any way for me to buy Ultimate + SA to have VECD for SA?  (As far as I have got – NO way)3) Now my misunderstanding of 4 copies.. – Pretending I have a very fast/huge server, I store there a dozen of VMs. I can run no more then 4 VMs from one server, or that is limited only for 4 VMs per time per one Vista Enterprise, accessing it (and another Vista can access other 4 VMs)4) "One user at a time" – means that one connect to a single VM on server (no VM can be used by two persons)?5) Editions. Once again, – what is about Business? Can I have Business + SA on my hosts and buy VECD for SA? Or that counts only for virtual instances?
    Sincerely, Alex

  2. Hi Alex
    1. VECD is a subscription offering, its dependant and additive to the Windows OS + SA in the case of PC, for Thin Clients, you purchase ONLY VECD for Thin Clients
    2. Yes, you can certainly purchase SA on Ultimate, then purchase VECD for the PC, you can run Enterprise/Ultimate or 3rd party technology on the host OS, and in the 4 Guests pretty much anything you like, listed below

    3. For VECD you can have as many servers as you like with the OS running on them, You can remotely access up to four (4) virtual machines concurrently from a single VECD licensed access device.  However, you cannot have more users with access to the virtual machines than the VECD licenses you have, You can install multiple virtual machines across any number of server hardware, as long as these virtual machines are only accessed and used by VECD-licensed access devices with one user accessing a particular virtual machine copy of Windows at a time, and you cannot have more users with access to the virtual machines than the VECD licenses you have, VECD is additive to the OS rights granted under Windows OS + SA so its 4 local and 4 server OS instances
    4. Yes, 1 User at a time
    5. For PC you need to have Windows Vista Business + SA = Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate, this then permits you to purchase VECD subscription for PC providing 4 local virtual OS installs <XP Pro, Vista Business, 98,95, ultimate, enterprise> AND 4 server virtual OS <XP Pro, Vista Business, 98,95, ultimate, enterprise>, total of 8 virtual OS, the HOST must be Enterprise/Ultimate or 3rd party technology only
    Hope this helps

  3. I have related question – what happens if customervirtualizes desktops with VECD and he wants to run Office Professional on these virtual machines. How Office is licensed in this case?

  4. Hi Bez
    VECD covers the desktop operation system virtualisation, we have also amended the license rights<July2007> for Office 2007 purchased via VOLUME LICENSING to compliment the OS changes
    Office 2007 purchased via VL
    Licensed Device.  Before you use the software under a license, you must assign that license to one device (physical hardware system).  That device is the ”licensed device.”  A hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate device.
    ·         You may install and use any number of copies of the software and of any prior version of the software on the licensed device.
    ·         Except as described in the Remote Access section below, only one user may use the copies on the licensed device at a time.
    ·         You may reassign a license, but not on a short-term basis (i.e., not within 90 days of the last assignment).  If you reassign a license, the device to which you reassign the license becomes the new licensed device for that license.
    Network Device.  You may also install additional copies on a network device.  You may only use those copies as described in the Remote Access section below.
    You can create and store the copies of Office on a network device, please make sure that you are aware Office is licensed Per DEVICE, every device accessing a copy of Office on the server or servers will require an office license assigned, to actually "virtualise" Office we advise that MDOP – Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, in particluar SoftGrid, will virtualise the Office, the 2 technologies VECD and MDOP are designed to work together
    Hope this helps

  5. Hi Emma
    I would like to clarify what you said to Alex. Especially this statement: "the HOST must be Enterprise/Ultimate or 3rd party technology only". Please note I\’m not speaking about VECD here.
    Say I have Windows XP installed + SA in place. This gives me a right to use Vista Enterprise or Ultimate. I don\’t want to actually install it. But I like the Virtualization Rights. May I install Virtual PC (or 3rd party product) in my Windows XP and use 4 Virtual Instances? Or I should actually install Vista Enterprise/Ultimate and then only use Virtual PC or 3rd party Virtualization product there? Can I even use 3rd party OS + 3rd party virtualization software if i have a license for Windows + SA \’assigned\’ to this workstation?..
    Or consider another scenario. Say I Vista Enterprise already — and no SA. I still have Virualization Rights for 4 Instances. Am I limited to use Virtual PC only or I may use any 3rd party virtualization software?
    Thanks in advace

  6. Hi Artem

    Windows XP installed + SA in place. This gives me a right to use Vista Enterprise or Ultimate.
    You need to install on the Host, Enterprise or Ultimate or no host and go 3rd party technology, you cannot install XP Pro on the Host and have Virtualisation rights, you must assign Win OS + SA to the device = Enterprise rights, to get the virttualisation rights, you need to INSTALL on the host Enterprise/Ultimate or a 3rd party piece of technology this then permits you to have 4 virtual OSs – which can be XP Pro/98/2000/95 or Business/Enterprise
    Or consider another scenario. Say I Vista Enterprise already — and no SA. I still have Virualization Rights for 4 Instances. Am I limited to use Virtual PC only or I may use any 3rd party virtualization software? You cannot buy Vista Enterprise seperatly it is an SA benefit only, so needs SA attach to Windows Vista Business to provide Enterprise rights, once SA expires, you still have the virtualisation rights on the device that had the SA assigned
    Cheers Emma

  7. Hi Emma
    I hope I finally got it. I\’ve made a simple table just to sum it up and make sure I understood the whole story of Extended Virtualization Rigths. Please take a look on it at I would greatly appreciate any corrections or contributions to this table.
    This table doesn\’t discuss what Extended Virtualization Rules are in each case. That\’s quite clear. All it it about — whether you have them or not in every particular situation mixing Licence assigned, Host OS installed and Virtualzation Software in use.
    Thanks in advance

  8. Hi Emma
    We\’re really keen on purchasing the VECD ‘product’ and as such have been talking to our reseller. (If you get commission then make sure you add this sell to your list – it was from this site that we found out about the offering).  Unfortunately, quite a big spanner has been thrown in the works and I was hoping you could clarify – hopefully there is a simple solution 🙂
    We have numerous XP desktops running in a virtualised environment on a third party virtualisation product.  Our Staff access these desktops via Wyse thin clients – making VECD ideal for us.  (So far so good).
    However, we are told that we would not be permitted to allow Staff to access these Virtual Desktops from their home PC\’s because VECD does not cover these personal PC\’s.  In fact, there is no obvious way to cover this scenario because in essence the Staff would need to buy their desktop licences with SA – something that wouldn’t have happened or is going to happen in the future 😉
    Is this the case?  Is there a workaround?
    If it is the case it kind of contradicts all the great stuff MS has been doing in facilitating virtual technology both in terms of licensing options as well as great products like TS Gateway 2008…
    I look forward to your comments!

  9. Hi Graham
    Graham, Good news………
    This is not the case
    See below, not only is this covered, its free if you have covered there work machine, so any issues have the reseller get in touch with me directly

    Will VECD licensing allow my employees to work from home?
    Yes.  There are options:
    a)       An employee’s home access device can be covered with a VECD license
    b)       The primary user of the licensed device at work gets an additional work at home use right without additional charge.
    N.B. There is no “free” work at home right for a user that doesn’t have a device at work or at home covered with VECD.

  10. Hi Emma,I need an information.What are the available programs to buy VECD licences?In the description you write: Program Availability: Select, Enterprise, Open Value, School and Campus Can I buy the licences also in easy open? I don\’t find it into the price list.Thanks in advancesimona

  11. Hi SimonaOpen cannot support the subscription method used to purchase VECD, so its only available in Open Value in the small and med business space, and Select/Select Plus and EA/EA Subscripton in the large org space, and School/Campus in the education spaceHope this helpsEmma

  12. Emma,You are a wonderful source of clarity on in a very complicated environment.First let me say that I am based in the US so if you would rather I communicate to one of your US counterparts please let me know how to get in touch with such a person.On to the matter at hand:Environment: I am doing a simple VDI install with 75 WinXP Pro virtual machines running on VMware ESX 3.5. I will redirect their desktops to Sun Micro SunRay thin clients using RDP. All that is simple, easy and I’ve don’t it thousand of times for dozens of customers. Problem: My problem is with licensing the WinXP Pro VMs. I purchased 75 Vista Business full licenses but I believe I need 75 VECD (not VECD-SA) licensed instead.Two questions:1) Can I use full Vista licenses in the environment described above?2) If I need VECD could you help me with the SKU as I have seen a total of six SKUs with varying prices and subscription lengths? Thank you kindly for your help. Once again, you are a wonderful source of clarity.Regards,Rob

  13. Hey RobThank you for your comments! much appreciatedYou can certainly purchase 75 Windows Vista Business retail copies, but, a few caveats, there are no downgrade rights, so you will only be able to install/run/access Windows Vista Business, not XP ProRetail licenses have no downgrade rights, if you attach SA, you would get downgrade rights So, bearing that in mind, a few optionsIf you want to have 75 devices access Windows Vista Business on the server, you can purchase 75 x FPP Windows Vista Business licenses, this will be on a 1:1 basis, so if you go up to 80 instances on the server, you need an additional 5 licenses for FPP Windows VistaOrYou can buy Windows Vista Business + SA + VECD for SA = 4 Local virtual OSEs< any prior version of Vista Business> PLUS 4 OSE running on the server <VECD> again any prior version of Vista Business or EnterpriseYou can create/store and run any number of instances of the OSE on the servers, each device covered with VECD for SA can access and run from the server up to 4 OSEsOrIf you have Thin Clients or if you have Windows OS PCs and you are not planning to buy SA or have active SA, you can cover the PCs using the VECD for TC SKU as it includes the Windows OSE and SAYou can create/store and run any number of instances of the OSE on the servers, each device covered with VECD for TC can access and run from the server up to 4 OSEsLet me know which agreement you will purchase under and I will pass to you the SKUsHope this helpsEmma

  14. Emma,I just ran across this blog, and I could use your help in understanding our options for what we want to do.We have an environment where we provide demos of software, for a limited time, to free members of our site. We would like to provide remote access to Windows desktops for these members, using a thin client RDP or VNC connection. We have a virtualization environment using Xen, and wanted to provision a new VM for each user based on a common image, let them Demo the software for a while, then destroy the VM when they are finished.We called the Microsoft Partner Program, and they suggested becoming certified, which give the ability to provide demos of Microsoft products, but we are a new small company, and having two MCPs and three current Customer contacts in a competency is a bit onerous.The VECD seemed like a good possibility, but the license restrictions are unclear. Do you think this would work in our case? Do you have any suggestions for how to accomplish this without buying a full license for each user demo?Thanks,Steve

  15. Thanks Emma,I wasn\’t aware Technet had this offering. While we would like to figure out how to offer a paid service without having to purchase a full license for each user (as they may only use Windows for a few hours a month), this may at least provide us a way to get started.Steve

  16. Hello EmmaOur firm, in the framework of a monthly-fee based service, wishes to assure for their customers thin clients and software enviroment /Windows OS +applications/ running on server based virtual PC-s. Our problem is that the SPLA does not give for desktop OS adequate lincensing form to „lease” the desktop OS running on server based virtual PC-s.VECD – if I am wrong please do correct me – theoretically can not be leased, the licence must be owned by the end-user, which is however against the main idea of our service. I also thought of Rental Rights Licence in my oppinion, it is not connectable to VECD.The question is, to giving the above service, which licensing form can be used legally, to rent-lease the desktop OS running on server based virtual PC enviroment?Thanks in advanceTibor

  17. Hi TiborVECD is currently not available under SPLA or for shared hosted environmentsAs an alternative, you could set up dedicated hardware and software solutions for each of your clients and "manage" there licenses – the licenses remaining in each end customers nameAt the moment this is the only alternative CheersEmma

  18. I want to simplify this, pretend I\’m starting from scratch. Say I want to have 1 laptop running Vista, that I want to use to access a virtual desktop running Vista. Do this mean that I need 1 VECD, plus 1 license of Vista for the virtual desktop, plus 1 more license of Vista for the laptop? (So 1 VECD plus 2 Vista licenses)Thanks!

  19. Hi ThereIt would not be practical to simply down to 1PC, VECD is designed for Enterprise Centralised Desktops and not necessarily small/med businessIf you want to access 1 running instance of Vista on a server, then you would buy a single FPP copy of Vista, put it on the server and permit the laptop <which has a local install, if you are also using a local instance> to connect to that instanceThere would be a break point between buying copies of FPP, 1 for each instance on the server or VECD per device, VECD will provide up to 4 OSE per device on the server, FPP is 1:1 ratioThis is probably as simple as I can make the Q,if you want to send me an actual scenario, I can tell you the licensing optionsCheersEmma

  20. After some further reading I think I figured it out. The VECD gives the right to use the the same windows license key for your physical desktop and up to four virtual desktops. Although only the physical desktop can access those four VMs. So I can be running different applications on each OS at the same time and still be in compliance. I was worried than when it came time to activate the copy of windows that I would get an error message saying the license key I\’m using has already been activated previously. But it seems that is not the case.I think that MS needs to make clear what the license is and when it is required. And then talk about what your options are for getting it. Almost every site I go to almost immedialty starts the discussion talking about Software Assurance. That is just a means for buying the license, and has nothing to do with when the VECD is needed.My scenario was for VMware View, 4000 clients. The MS licensing was too expensive. SA + VECD =~ $75 per client, so it would have been $300,000 per year just so we could use remote desktops, and that price doesn\’t include the cost of buying 4000 Vista Enterprises licenses(only VE and Win7 qualify for VECD). So we are sticking with physical machines. I have such a love/hate relationship with MS, right now it\’s on the hate side!

  21. Hi ThereVECD provides the right to run the desktop OSE on a server for access by a licensed deviceSA provides the right to run up to 4 virtual OSEs locally on the SA covered deviceThe VLK wont give you an error message unless you exceed the MAK activations,and then, we would raise the limit for you based on your needs, if you use KMS, you wont get an error as you activate against an internal host, I think you are getting confused with OEM/FPP media/keys which are single use and would give you an error messagel like belowThe reason we are clear on SA is that it is so integral to the virtualisation piece and alot of technology hinges on having SA in placeexample:Buying VECD for SA requires active SABuying MDOP require SArunning 4 virtual OSEs on your device requires SADisless PC/Remote Boot requires SAso its important to make these points at the beginning of the conversation so that SA can be factored inthat saidIf you have existing PCs, any OSE not limited to Win Vista or 7 or PCs/Thin Clients with no OSE, you can buy VECD SKU for about $100 per device/yr this provides non-perpetual access to up to 4 virtual OSEs on the server, SA is built into the SKU price so you now qualify to buy MDOP etc if you need itWe have some great cheat sheets on TechNet covering KMS and MAK Keys if you want to check them out CheersEmma

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