updated 05:00 pm EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Warns other partners about proper licensing
Microsoft has warned its partners and outsourcers that certain forms of Windows 7 in cloud services might be out of bounds. In most cases, the partner's customers themselves must hold valid Microsoft license agreements. The advisory has come in the wake of allegations that software-as-a-service provider OnLive may be using Windows and Office illegally in the way it streams from servers to users.
In its posting, Microsoft was passive and reminded partners that it was appropriate for them to host Windows 7 in a virtual desktop, but that the hardware on which the OS resides must be dedicated to a specific customer and not shared with other customers. Microsoft has similar requirements for the delivery of hosted services for Microsoft Office.
OnLine began offering its Desktop for iPad service in January. Through it, the company began providing cloud-based services for Windows 7 and three Microsoft Office apps for free with a 2GB storage account. The apps need to communicate with a server-based version of Windows. Earlier this month, OnLive expanded its Desktop app to Android tablets. It also began offering a premium service, Desktop Plus that adds Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash and PDF support to the Microsoft Office apps.
Recently, the media and industry analyst firm Gartner began to question if OnLive was violating Microsoft's licensing terms in the way that it offered Desktop and Desktop Plus. OnLive is normally quiet about how its system works, but it may be using large servers with many virtual instances and not dedicated systems.
Microsoft has begun a dialog with the cloud services provider to make sure it's licensed properly, but hasn't outlined its progress.