Windows Azure MSDN Benefits

It was announced a little while ago that MSDN Premium subscribers would receive a number of free Windows Azure hours as part of their subscription:


and these would be, as expected with MSDN, for test and dev only.

However, I saw over on Eric Nelson’s blog that this is no longer the case. Microsoft have:

“decided to lift this restriction so that you will be able to use your Azure benefits for normal (production) use, if needed”

From January 4th 2010 the introductory Azure offer gives a huge 750 compute hours per month!

As Eric points out, the above offer expires after 8 months so don’t rush to sign up if you’re not going to make use of it straight away…make sure you get your “money’s” worth ;-) After that time period, the level of free access drops down as per the below chart:


This is a great way of making Azure easily available to the 1000’s of developers with MSDN subscriptions. It will allow them to test it as a solution, show the company how it will benefit them and then easily move to a production environment with reduced admin and cost.

See Eric’s post here.

VStudio 2010 release date delayed

VStudio 2010, the latest version of Microsoft’s development product suite, was slated to be released March 22 2010; however, according to The Register, that’s no longer the case.

Sosa Somasegar’s (Senior VP of MS Developer Division) MSDN blog tells us that:

“we are going to extend the beta period by adding another interim checkpoint release, a Release Candidate with a broad “go live” license, which will be publicly available in the February 2010 timeframe.

Since the goal of the Release Candidate is to get more feedback from you, the team will need some time to react to that feedback before creating the final release build.  We are therefore moving the launch of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 back a few weeks.” (bold mine)

So there will be a VStudio 2010 RC in February 2010 and the final release of Visual Studio 2010 can be expected probably around the beginning of May 2010.

SQL Server 2008 R2: Licensing Changes

SQL Server 2008 R2 has got a whole host of new features and now it’s got some new licensing too :-)

The big move is that SQL’s licensing will follow the same path as Windows Server, both in editions and also virtual licence allowances:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard = 1 VM per licence
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise = 4 VM’s per licence
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard = Unlimited VM’s per licence

Here’s a Microsoft diagram that shows many of the main differences between the now 3 editions:


If you currently have SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and Software Assurance there is “a complete transition/migration path” but I don’t have any details yet…they will be available nearer launch on May 6th 2010.

For more info on SQL Server 2008 R2, see my other post here:

Read What’s New in SQL Server 2008 R2

Original post from MS here.

Microsoft Licensing – Rental Rights

Blockbuster And Microsoft ...

Microsoft Rental Rights are aimed at customers who

“rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties with qualifying Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office software”

and are designed to make this previously tricky situation much easier by helping ensure all parties involved are compliant with MS licensing rules

“Rental Rights” are sold with, or on top of, existing volume licences and assigned per device. The rights exist for the life of the licensed device and cannot be re-assigned.

They have been available in a limited number of countries for a few months but, as of January 2010, they will be part of the Worldwide pricelist. The will be available on:

  • Open
  • Select
  • Select Plus

(so not available on Open Value, Enterprise Agreements or Campus/Schools)

for the following products:

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Office Professional Plus 2007
  • Office Std 2007

Rules for Office

There are a couple of rules changes once Rental Rights are assigned.

Portable Copy:

“You may not use or permit use of additional copies of the qualifying software on a separate portable device or a network device. This prohibition overrides any right you have under the license terms that came with your qualifying software

Office gives you “Portable Installation Rights” which allows users to install their copy of Office on both a desktop AND a laptop. This is very useful for business users but, as you can see above, it is NOT permitted with Rental Rights.

Rules for Windows

Downgrade Rights:

Always a hot topic when it comes to the desktop OS, the ability to use previous versions.

“You may use a prior version of the software in place of the qualifying software only if the qualifying software was licensed under your volume licensing agreement, except for Windows XP Professional licensed from an original equipment manufacturer”

So downgrade rights are available where the original software was purchased via Volume Licensing. The exception to that is OEM XP Pro (so that came pre-installed on the machine).

Rules for both:

Remote Access:

“You may not permit remote access to the qualifying software. This prohibition overrides any right for the primary user of the licensed device or any user of a separately licensed device to access that software under the license terms that came with the qualifying software.”

Virtual Machines:

Rental Rights don’t apply in virtual environments…

“In other words, the primary customer may not create and rent virtual machines.”

How Rental Rights Work:

Here are a couple of diagrams to illustrate the whole thing:

Acquiring Software Assurance:

Software Assurance (SA) gives users many benefits including version upgrades, e-learning, training vouchers and access to MDOP among others. It is becoming more and more useful to more and more organizations in more and more ways…and businesses that lease their machines can take advantage too.

SA isn’t available to the “Primary Customer” acquiring the Rental Rights (i.e. the leasing company) but it CAN be purchased by the end user. So an organization that leases it’s machines on a long term contract can purchase SA on their own Volume Licensing agreement.