Pricing is now available for Windows instances on Amazon EC2. More than the technical availability of Windows AMIs, the fact that you get pay your Windows license fee based on usage is a major change. This is where Microsoft’s announcement goes beyond Oracle’s EC2 announcement at Oracle Open World.
But why stop at EC2 instances? If I can do it there, why can’t I do it at home? Considering how rarely my home desktop is booted to Windows, I would love to pay my Windows license in a metered way. It would basically be limited to time spent editing video and participating in family Skype videconference (at least until I manage to get Skype full screen video to work on Ubuntu).
After all, why only Amazon and not other Cloud providers. And when this happens, I think I may become a cloud provider myself. It would be a small-scale operation. One physical CPU (my desktop). And one user (me). I would meter my usage and dutifully pay Microsoft every month based on the number of hours during which I was running Windows.
How much would that be? Well, a Linux Small Standard Image EC2 instance (the closest thing to my aging desktop) costs $0.10 per hour. The Windows version costs $0.125 per hour, so the Windows license on this machine costs 2.5 cents per hour. On a given month, I don’t use it for more than 10 hours (edit/render one DVD plus a few hours on Skype). That’s 25 cents. Does Microsoft take Paypal? Is the Microsoft tax about to get more progressive?
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft manages to be flexible on server OS licensing (where it has plenty of competition) and while keeping its highly profitable (and unfairly front-loaded and restrictive) desktop OS licensing intact.