Microsoft is in talks with OnLive about whether its newest app for iOS and Android, OnLive Desktop, is a violation of Windows licensing terms. The OnLive Desktop app allows users to access a cloud-hosted Windows 7 installation, with a premium version of the app offering more features. In a post on a Microsoft Technet blog, corporate vice president of worldwide licensing and pricing Joe Matz outlined the company stance on the issue.
"Some inquiries about these scenarios have been raised as a result of recent media coverage related to OnLive's Desktop and Desktop Plus services. Additionally, the analyst firm Gartner raised questions regarding the compliance of these services last week. We are actively engaged with OnLive with the hope of bringing them into a properly licensed scenario, and we are committed to seeing this issue is resolved," wrote Matz.
According to Matz, Microsoft's licensing agreements allow two streaming scenarios:
- Customers that want to work with partners to have them host Windows 7 in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution on their behalf, can do so when the customer provides the partner licenses through the customer's own agreements with Microsoft. The hosting hardware must be dedicated to, and for the benefit of the customer, and may not be shared by or with any other customers of that partner.
- 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. However, it is important to note that SPLA does not support delivery of Windows 7 as a hosted client or provide the ability to access Office as a service through Windows 7. Office may only be provided as a service if it is hosted on Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services.
In OnLive's case, they hold the Windows 7 licenses, running afoul of scenario one. They also allow access to a normal Windows 7 install with Microsoft Office installed, meaning scenario two doesn't apply either. It remains to be seen is Microsoft and OnLive can come up with an amicable solution to the problem.