Microsoft is allowing some users to run Office in AWS

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A change to Microsoft’s licensing noticed by Directions on Microsoft (DoM) will now see AWS customers finally be able to run Microsoft’s office software on their virtual desktop at no extra cost.

The change represents a distinct backpedal on a licensing term introduced in 2019, which saw Microsoft discourage users from running its software on other non-Microsoft clouds by means of increased cost.

The most recent revision, which came into play on August 1, reverses that for Amazon WorkSpaces customers.

Microsoft backpedals on its non-MS cloud stance

Previously, AWS, Google, and Alibaba customers will have had to pay “substantially more” to run Microsoft software than they would have on Azure, says DoM.

“Beginning August 1, 2023, users with specific licenses may run Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise/business, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Visio on Amazon WorkSpaces," the company said in a change to its product terms.

"The licenses that will be eligible under this revised policy include Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5 and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. If you currently have any of these licenses, starting from August 1, you will be able to utilize these Microsoft applications on Amazon WorkSpaces virtual desktop infrastructure.”

While this, at first, appears to be great news for AWS customers, there are clear drawbacks, as highlighted by DoM analyst Wes Miller, who said that using Microsoft software on Azure still remains cheaper:

“You’ll need a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 subscription for every user accessing Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise (Office) on WorkSpaces… Not Microsoft 365 licensed separately. Not Office 365 E3. You need Microsoft 365 E3+, even if you don't need EMS (Enterprise Mobility and Security). And you still need VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) for your WorkSpaces users."

It’s unclear why Microsoft has made these licensing changes, and the company did not immediately respond to our request for further comment. However, more broadly, Redmond has been under fire in the EU over several antitrust cases relating to cloud dominance and the unfair packaging of Teams into its Microsoft 365 bundle.

The company has also come under scrutiny in the US after a Chinese hacker reportedly got access to Microsoft-hosted government officials’ emails.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!