Skip to content

Table of contents

Collapse all

Licensing virtual desktops 

As an alternative to installing Windows 11 Enterprise locally, an organization could choose to deploy virtual desktops so that the desktops themselves are running on a server and delivered to a user’s device. Users licensed with a Windows 11 Enterprise E3/E5 User SL can access virtual desktops using the following server solutions:

  • A customer-owned server, dedicated to them
  • A server managed by an Authorized Outsourcer
  • Using Azure Dedicated Host
  • Using Azure multi-tenant hardware
  • Using a CSP-Hoster partner’s multi-tenant hardware
  • Using the Azure Virtual Desktop service

You might notice that the Listed Providers are missing from this list – or rather, the three Listed Providers that are not Microsoft – Alibaba, Amazon, and Google, And, to confirm, Windows 11 Enterprise E3/E5 licenses can’t be used with the infrastructure of these organizations.

Windows 11 Enterprise E3/E5 licenses are upgrade licenses and require a Qualifying Operating System on the user’s device. However, if a user is using a thin client or an iPad to access their desktop there won’t be a Qualifying Operating System, and in this case a VDA User SL is useful. VDA stands for Virtual Desktop Access and this license is specifically aimed at scenarios where access to a virtual desktop is required, but there’s no Qualifying Operating System on the device. It’s available in E3 and E5 flavors in the EA and MPSA and as an E3 license in CSP.

Users licensed with a VDA E3/E5 User SL can access virtual desktops using the same server solutions as listed above. In addition, they can access virtual desktops running in a Listed Provider’s servers which are dedicated to the customer’s use.

You can find a useful summary table here.