Work from Home Microsoft Licensing Compliance

Many organizations may not have considered the proper Microsoft licensing needed for remote workers.

The idea of remote workers is not a new concept but some organizations still require most of their employees to work in corporate locations, and their licenses were purchased with that in mind.

Server Licenses
Most organizations license their Microsoft server products with per user Client Access Licenses. The per user option will allow users to access from corporate locations as well as remote access without the need for additional licensing. The licensing requirements are based on the actual user and not the device or location used by the end user.

Using a VPN
Microsoft desktop applications can possibly cause some compliance issues when accessed by non-corporate owned devices via a VPN or similar. For example, if you are using a personal computer at home to log into your work computer at the office and access your Microsoft applications, you are potentially out of compliance with Microsoft’s licensing policies because your personal computer may not be licensed to access those applications.

Remote Desktop Gateway
Another option for Microsoft users is their Remote Desktop Gateway product (RD Gateway) which allows a user to connect via SSL without the need for a VPN.  The user could then use a Remote Desktop Client to access their office computer or a Windows Server.  This requires additional licensing to use, as per Microsoft:

“An RDS CAL is required to use any functionality included in the Remote Desktop Services role in Windows Server. For example, if you are using RDS Gateway and/or Remote Desktop Web Access to provide access to a Windows client operating system on an individual PC, both an RDS CAL and Windows Server CAL are required.”

Windows Virtual Desktop
If you have a Microsoft 365 license you can run Windows 10 on a Windows Virtual Desktop without the need for an additional license or RDS Cal.  To access a Windows Server’s desktop and apps, you would need an RDS Cal license.

Per Device Licensing
Understanding the rules for Microsoft application products can help prevent surprise budget issues that some customers experience when moving to a remote workforce. The basic licensing terms for Microsoft applications is usually licensed per device accessing the application.

Office 365 Discounts
Microsoft applications offer some options for customers that wish to offer users the ability to access the application from any device without the need for additional licensing. The on-prem application licensing has a discounted Office 365 subscription offer for organizations that purchased Software Assurance for the Office licenses. This subscription discount allows end users to buy the Office 365 subscription at a 30% discount off the normal retail price.

Up to 5 Devices
Organizations that purchase most types of Office 365 subscriptions for their users have rights for the end user to access licensed applications with up to 5 different devices. This option would allow the end user to install a copy of a licensed Office app with no extra costs to the end user.   There are lower level tier Office 365 subscriptions that do NOT include the option to install a local copy, so check your licensing rules carefully.

Windows Desktop OS
Microsoft also has an option for organizations to purchase Windows Desktop OS as a user licensed option.  This option can provide the end user the most current version of Windows Desktop OS. By providing the desktop OS to end users, organizations can ensure the end users are using the most current Microsoft OS and help ensure all security updates are installed and protecting the organization from security threats.

In summary, organizations may need to review their licensing to address changes in how end users are accessing the organization’s network. Besides budgeting concerns for non-compliance, organizations can also experience security threats from an end user’s device that may not have the proper software security updates to ensure the protection of the organization’s environment.

If you’re unsure about what your Microsoft licensing allows, but don’t want to alert Microsoft that you may be out of compliance, Miro can help.  Miro can engage in a comprehensive review of the client’s assets, entitlements, contracts and purchasing documents to help the client remain in compliance with Microsoft licensing policies.  Don’t contact your Microsoft reseller for help with licensing, as they’re contractually obligated to report you to Microsoft if they find anything wrong.

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