2014
04.03

The Windows 8.1 Update, with changes to volume licensing, is bringing changes to the licensing of Enterprise Sideloading.

Sideloading is where you can use a tool like Windows Intune to push a custom developed/acquired “Metro” app onto Windows without using the Microsoft Store. Note that Intune can also do this with iOS (free license) and Android (not looked into the licensing). The solution is nice. If the device is IT-owned, then IT enrolls the device. If it’s a BYO device, then the user electively enrols to Windows Intune via the Company Store app. And IT then publishes the custom app (and can link Store apps) to the portal that users can pull down. It’s basically a private app store for enrolled devices.

Prior to May 1st 2014, Enterprise Sideloading requires per-device licensing. And it’s pricey. In fact, it’s only sold in blocks of 100 devices. When you compare that to the free option from Apple, then that iPad or iPhone looked cheap when you needed to push sideloaded apps to your devices. This made Windows devices expensive and the 100-minimum purchase was a blocker for smaller deployments.

That all changes on May 1st 2014. According to a blog post by Microsoft:

In May, we will grant Enterprise Sideloading rights to organizations in certain Volume License programs, regardless of what product they purchase, at no additional cost. Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights for an unlimited number of devices through Volume Licensing at approximately $100. For additional information on sideloading licensing, review the Windows Volume Licensing Guide.

The Windows 8.1 Volume Licensing Guide goes on to say that the following editions of Windows can sideload:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro Update (that’s Windows 8.1 Pro with the Windows 8.1 Update, by the way)
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise

The machines must be domain joined and have a policy setting enabled. That setting is Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > and then App Package Deployment > Allow all trusted apps to install [TRUE].

Back to the licensing

Customers can also enable Enterprise Sideloading of trusted Windows 8.1 apps on Windows RT 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise devices that are not domain-joined by using a Volume Licensing Multiple Activation Key (MAK).

OK, what does this all cost? If you are signed up to one of the below licensing schemes then Enterprise Sideloading will be free from May 1st 2014:

  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Subscription Agreement
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (under a Campus and School Agreement
  • School Enrollment
  • Select and Select Plus

Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights through the Open License program as of May 1, 2014. These rights include the ability to sideload on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices. MAKs for these customers will be made available through the VLSC.

This license will be $100 for an unlimited number of devices.

So in short:

  • The ability to distribute custom apps via Enterprise Sideloading is added to Windows 8.1 Pro via the Windows 8.1 Update.
  • The license for Enterprise Sideloading is free to those larger customers that are enrolled to an applicable large customer volume license agreement.
  • Anyone else can get the Enterprise Sideloading license for an unlimited number of devices for $100 through an Open volume license program.

Good news, I would say.

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