Wow, where to begin.
Several weeks ago, OnLive launched their desktop offering at CES, and got media attention from a gaming-centric audience for connecting to a Windows desktop from an iPad. That audience apparently didn’t realize that more than 1,500 Citrix Service Providers have been doing the same thing for years, to all sorts of devices, and growing their businesses like crazy month-over-month.
Then OnLive took some pot shots at Citrix. I started to compose a response, but Computerworld (“a trainwreck”), Gabe Knuth (“not the desktop virtualization solution you are looking for”) and industry analysts like Gartner (“may present Microsoft licensing risks”) took care of that for us. The most serious concern was of course the apparent licensing transgressions, since we all know by now that there is no SPLA for VDI.
OnLive continued the rhetoric, and rumors started to run wild – Do they have some special deal with Microsoft? Why hasn’t Microsoft said anything? Are they secretly striking a union? More than a few CSPs sent us emails asking us to, in turn, ask Microsoft, “Wilco Tango Foxtrot?” (or the euphemism that my son uses, “Welcome to Facebook!”)
And then finally this blog from Joe Matz, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and Pricing, Microsoft, set it straight. Not only does he clearly state that OnLive needs to be brought “into a properly licensed scenario,” but he also more importantly validated what every CSP knows and does today: “Microsoft partners who host under the Services Provider License Agreement (“SPLA”) may bring some desktop-like functionality as a service by using Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services. Under this solution, the partner is free to offer this service to any customer they choose, whether or not they have a direct licensing agreement with Microsoft.”
What’s great about our CSPs is that not only can they deliver low-cost, properly licensed, high performance cloud desktops on Windows Server and RDS – they can use our Windows 7 Desktop Experience features to make it look just like a Windows 7 desktop for their subscribers! We introduced this capability last year, and it boils down hundreds of little tweaks, adjustments and settings into a simple script.
Not only that, but our Mobility Pack optimizes that desktop for tablets and phones, making it more touch-friendly and native-feeling to the iOS or Android device. Our CSPs are deploying this in droves, since tablets continue to be a great conversation-starter when it comes to cloud hosted desktops. The experience transforms the tiny icons, mouse-oriented start bar and hard-to-tap text boxes of this:
Into a very tablet-friendly experience like this:
So the bottom line to this story, in my best Jimmy Fallon “thank you notes” style: “Thank you, OnLive, for creating media attention for 1,500+ CSPs that were doing cloud desktops before you, better than you, and in compliance with the rules. Thank you for raising enough controversy to get Microsoft to reaffirm that you’re doing the licensing wrong, and our CSPs are doing it right. Thank you.”