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While the costs of the CDL are unclear, some Microsoft customers and partners have been expecting a more expensive and restrictive successor to the VDA's $100 annual fee per device.
Seen in this light, the CDL is actually a compromise on Microsoft's part, according to Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based virtualization solution provider.
"It used to be if a device did not run some version of Windows at the physical layer, Microsoft did not want to license it," Strohl told CRN. "Now, they realize that these devices are here to stay, and the CDL shows Microsoft's acceptance of this fact. They could have said everyone with an iPad or Android tablet needs to buy a full Windows 8 license."
According to virtualization experts, some customers are not adhering to the VDA license requirement, and Microsoft does not have a mechanism in place to keep tabs on compliance. It's not known if Microsoft will be able to track CDLs, but in the meantime, at least one Microsoft virtualization partner is planning on steering customers away from the license.
"There is absolutely no way for customers or Microsoft to track compliance based on the way the licensing agreement is currently constructed," said the source, who requested anonymity to protect his relationship with Microsoft. "I would advise my customers to not pay Microsoft one penny for CDL licensing until Microsoft comes up with a way to track it that is not a huge burden for the customer."
Ballmer told CRN this week that between the Surface tablet, and forthcoming Windows 8 tablets from Samsung, Asus and Lenovo, Microsoft is well positioned to take advantage of the bring-your-own-device trend. This is what underpins Ballmer's re-declaration of war on Apple, but the iPad has taken root within enterprises precisely because it is largely unfettered by restrictions.
It remains to be seen how customers react to the Windows 8 CDL, but Simon Bramfitt, founder and research director at Entelechy Associates, a Concord, Calif.-based virtualization consultancy, believes the new license requirement will run counter to the ethos driving BYOD.
"I wonder if he understands just how difficult his desktop team is making it for enterprises to adopt consumerization while complying with the changes to licensing rules that Windows 8 is bringing," Bramfitt told CRN.