OnLive changes its Windows on iPad licensing to appease Microsoft

OnLive, the company providing hosted a hosted Windows desktop on the iPad and Android, has taken steps to comply with Microsoft licensing terms.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

OnLive has changed its back-end infrastructure designed to provide hosted Microsoft Windows application for iOS and Android, bringing it more in line with Microsoft's rules, Microsoft officials said on April 9.

"We’re pleased to have been told that the OnLive Desktop application is now accessing our software by hosting it on Windows Server, an important step in delivering any Microsoft-licensed desktop-like service to the public. Based on this information, we will work with OnLive to take a closer look at its service and ensure it is operating according to its license like thousands of other partners and utilizing our standing pricing and licensing terms," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to me today.

OnLive Desktop allows iPad and Android tablet users to run full Windows 7 and Microsoft Office on their tablets, even if they haven’t purchased either product. In March 2012, Microsoft let it be known that the company was putting the licensing screws to OnLive.

“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,” said Joe Matz, Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft, in a March 8 blog post.

A Microsoft spokesperson said today via e-mail that "OnLive was providing multiple users access to PCs meant for personal use," a situation the company has remedied -- at least in part.

Update: Virtualization expert Brian Madden noted that the licensing change was first noticed by OnLive users on the OnLiveFans.com site over the past weekend. Madden explained that the switch of the underlying OnLive platform from Windows 7 to Windows Server 2008 R2 "means that OnLive is now on a level playing field with the rest of the DaaS (desktop as a service) providers. Windows Server 2008 R2 can be provided as a remote desktop for users via RDS CALs (Remote Desktop Service Client Access Licenses) and the RDS CALs are available via Microsoft's SPLA (Service Provider Licensing Agreement) program. So this is something that anyone can get access to."

So is OnLive now out of the Microsoft licensing weeds? "Microsoft is continuing to take a closer look at OnLive’s service to ensure it is operating according to its license," the spokesperson added.

I've asked OnLive for comment on Microsoft's update. No word back yet.

Update: An OnLive spokesperson replied with the usual "we never comment on licensing" boilerplate response. But then added some additional color:

"OnLive has never commented on any licensing agreements.

"We're steadily improving OnLive Desktop at all levels. Some of the changes are visible (e.g. we rolled out a much-improved on-screen keyboard), and some are behind the scenes and would only be picked up by technical people. These have all been in the works for a long time, and it looks like the only reason a change was noticed was because of the keyboard, but there have been many updates since launch....

"What you are seeing with the OnLive Desktop consumer product updates are features we are trialing with enterprise customers who are looking to displace their current remoting technology with OnLive.... So, these changes in our consumer offering is a preview of what's coming, and needless to say, we need to support all the versions of Windows (and Linux) these corporations use."

Editorial standards