Microsoft has embraced “by device” selling for their Windows desktop operating system since what feels like the beginning of time. But change has compounded over the past several years and truly transformed our computing experience. So much so that ordinary end-users (myself included) are lugging around a bagful of devices in order to stay connected at all times. We all want to work and play on devices that we choose to use—not to be hampered by things like file synchronization and compatibility or good taste getting in our way. As a result, we are slowly but surely becoming a community of cyborgs. Finally, Microsoft is listening! We want to bring our own device and even BE our own device. What does that all really mean?
Picture the future, a society wearing various computing devices all over their bodies, and maybe someday inside their bodies. Ok, maybe don’t picture that part. But here’s the main point, cyborgs need user-based licensing for software because in that not-too-far-off day WE may actually be one of those devices. And then the conversations about compliance, licensing, and software asset management will end up in some very weird places.
Microsoft has been traveling the user-based licensing path for some time. Let’s do a quick recap for those not familiar. Several years ago it started with the ability to license access to servers by user or by device. Then came Office 365, this successfully brought the user-based model to Office. If Microsoft can make Office user-based, it was only a matter of time before they went all-in and converted the Windows OS. The new offering is part of their “Enterprise Cloud Suite” (ECS) which means you can acquire Office 365 and the new Enterprise Mobility Suite as part of the overall package, then you get user-based Windows. Or, if going for the bundle isn’t the right move, user-based Windows will be available as an “Enterprise Product” via the Enterprise Agreement.