Last Fall, Microsoft officials dangled the promise of allowing customers to run the Windows 10 client on Azure. Since that initial tease, officials declined to say how or when this would happen.
But last week, Microsoft opened up a bit on at least one way they plan to enable this scenario "later this year."
A quick refresher on running Windows client on Azure: Users have been able to run Windows 7 and 8.1 on Azure in virtual machines, but only for development and test purposes. Doing so otherwise would be a violation of licensing terms.
The new information on how Microsoft will allow Windows 10 to run on Azure was buried among its multifaceted Citrix partnership renewal announcement. From Microsoft's blog post which mentioned this:
"Later this year, Citrix will offer customers who have purchased Windows Software Assurance on a per-user basis the option to host their Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) solution. This will be an industry first! This means you can deploy virtual apps or desktops and accelerate Windows 10 adoption for those customers who are using Microsoft Cloud solutions."
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that this is at least part of Microsoft's strategy regarding making Windows 10 client available on Azure. The statement I received from a spokesperson when I asked:
"This is the first move to what Microsoft announced last fall about bringing Windows 10 to Azure. This new Windows licensing option is a benefit of Software Assurance (SA) and will allow Windows Enterprise SA (Software Assurance) Per User Customers to run Windows 10 CBB (Current Branch for Business) on Azure or approved third-party partners' datacenters."
As both of the quotes above indicate -- and bears repeating again -- running Windows 10 on Azure is available only to those users running Windows 10 Enterprise CBB who also have Software Assurance.