Microsoft to start allowing users to run Office in AWS
Microsoft has backpedaled on a licensing term introduced in 2019, which had discouraged users from running its software on non-Microsoft clouds by imposing higher costs. The recent revision, effective from August 1, 2023, allows Amazon WorkSpaces customers to run Microsoft's Office software on their virtual desktop at no additional cost.
Previously, Google, AWS and Alibaba clients had to pay more to use Microsoft software compared to Azure users, as reported by DoM.
However, the recent licensing change specifically benefits users with certain licenses, including Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5 and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. If customers have any of these licenses, they can now utilize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise/business, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Visio on Amazon WorkSpaces' virtual desktop infrastructure.
While the change is undoubtedly positive for AWS customers, there are some clear drawbacks. As DoM analyst Wes Miller pointed out, using Microsoft software on Azure remains cheaper.
To take advantage of the new licensing policy on Amazon WorkSpaces, users need a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 subscription for every individual accessing Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise (Office). This requirement means that a separate Microsoft 365 license or Office 365 E3 subscription is not sufficient.
Additionally, even if customers don't require Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS), they still need Microsoft 365 E3+ for their WorkSpaces users, along with Virtual Desktop Access (VDA).
Despite the potential drawbacks, Microsoft's motive behind these licensing changes remains unclear. The company has not provided an immediate response to requests for further comment. However, Microsoft has been facing scrutiny and antitrust cases in the European Union related to cloud dominance and the bundling of Teams into its Microsoft 365 package. Additionally, the company faced scrutiny in the United States following a Chinese hacker's reported access to government officials' emails hosted by Microsoft.