Microsoft: OnLive's Windows-for-iPad tool breaks rules

The software giant says OnLive's desktop-as-a-service, which includes virtualised versions of Windows 7 and Office for tablet users, is not properly licensed

OnLive's virtualised Windows 7 and Microsoft Office service for tablet users breaks Microsoft's licensing policies, the software giant has said.

OnLive iPad service

Microsoft says OnLive's desktop-as-a-service, which includes virtualised versions of Windows 7 and Office for tablet users, is not properly licensed. Image credit: OnLive

OnLive, which is better known for streaming games from the cloud, announced its desktop and productivity service for iPads in January, and for Android tablets last week. However, Microsoft licensing chief Joe Matz said on Thursday that the service is not fully legitimate.

"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," Matz wrote in a blog post, breaking Microsoft's silence on the matter.

OnLive Desktop Pro, a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) product, costs $9.99 (£6.45) per month and effectively turns iPads and Android tablets into Windows terminals. Windows is properly available on some tablets already, but Microsoft's big tablet push will come later this year with the full launch of Windows 8.

According to Matz, when someone wants to use a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) version of Windows 7 through a hosted server provider, that person has to provide their own licence for the copy of Windows.

"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 [hosting provider]," Matz added.

The licensing chief noted that it is possible for Microsoft partners to "bring some desktop-like functionality as a service by using Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services", under the Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA).

However, he pointed out that the 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" — both of which OnLive seems to be doing.

Licensing 'risks'

Before Matz's post, Microsoft had stayed quiet on the legality of OnLive's service. Analyst firm Gartner, on the other hand, said late last month that there are serious risks with the provider's approach.

Neither Microsoft nor OnLive has provided clear guidance on how users of these DaaS products must comply with Microsoft licensing requirements.

– Gartner

"Organisations and end users should note that OnLive Desktop Plus may present Microsoft licensing risks for organisations if consumers install the product on company iPads or use it to edit company documents from personal devices," Gartner warned in an analyst note. "Neither Microsoft nor OnLive has provided clear guidance on how users of these DaaS products must comply with Microsoft licensing requirements."

At the time, Gartner said it was possible that Microsoft could hold both OnLive and its customers responsible for breaching its licensing terms.

As for OnLive, the company has not yet responded to ZDNet UK's request for comment on Matz's blog, although it did tell sister site ZDNet.com: "We have never commented on any licensing agreements."


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