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31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 Versions (Part 22 of 31)

Shopping for Server LicensesToday we need to talk about the versions and the licensing options you have for Windows Server 2012.  There are some pretty significant changes to A) what you can purchase, and B) what those versions include.

“So it’s not just Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter?  Are you making it even more complex?!”

Absolutely not.  In fact, we’re making it much MUCH more simple.  Instead of 3 versions of Windows Server (not counting our “Essentials” product for small business), we now have just two license type: Standard and Datacenter.

“Ah.. so, the Datacenter version includes all capabilities for a higher price, and Standard is a less capable version with fewer features?”

Nope.  Datacenter and Standard do exactly the same things.  They have the same features and scale to the biggest, most capable hardware you can purchase today (and beyond). 

“I’m confused.”

Then how about you let me finish by outlining the versions and how you purchase them.

“Okay.  Please continue.”

Thank you.

Updated Windows Server 2012 Licensing

(Click to see a larger version)

License Type

You now buy Windows Server licenses per TWO physical processors.  Regardless of the number of cores in a processor, if you have a two processor server, then you only need to buy one copy of Windows Server 2012 – either Standard or Datacenter.  If you have four processors, you buy two copies.  And so on. 

Features

There is no difference.  Standard and Datacenter do exactly the same thing.  For example, a server running Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition is just as capable now for being a member of a Windows Failover Cluster.

Virtualization Rights

This is where they differ, and really why at some point of creating more and more virtual machines, you’ll decide that buying Datacenter is more cost effective and makes more sense. 

With every license of Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition, you are granted TWO (2) virtual instances of the operating system.  So even though I can run as many VMs as my hardware will allow, the licensing gives you TWO virtualized server licenses.  To add more VM licenses, you can buy (and stack) additional Standard licenses on a server – each one giving you the license for two more VMs.

With every license of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition, you are granted UNLIMITED virtual instances of the operating system.  So, yes, it’s more expensive, but on that 2 processor / 8 core server, with one license of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter, you are given the licenses for as many virtual machines as you can fit on that box.  For ultimate flexibility in your virtualized datacenter, it just become a matter of having enough licenses to cover the physical processors on your server hardware, and you basically can run and migrate and use as many virtual machines as you can physically support.

For More Information

See the Windows Server 2012 “how to buy” page.

Check out the Windows Server 2012 Pricing and Licensing FAQ document (.PDF Download).

Also read Aidan Finn’s excellent blog post on Windows Server 2012 Licensing in Detail

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In summary – Microsoft has greatly simplified the choices, making it easier for you to determine and select the appropriate purchase choices of Windows Server 2012.

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This is by no means an exhaustive description of licensing, and I’m sure you may have questions.  Feel free to ask them in the comments.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Remde

Kevin is an engaging and highly sought-after speaker and webcaster who has landed several times on Microsoft's top 10 webcast list, and has delivered many top-scoring TechNet events and webcasts. In his past outside of Microsoft, Kevin has held positions such as software engineer, information systems professional, and information systems manager. He loves sharing helpful new solutions and technologies with his IT professional peers.

A prolific blogger, Kevin shares his thoughts, ideas and tips on his “Full of I.T.” blog (http://aka.ms/FullOfIT). He also contributes to and moderates the TechNet Forum IT Manager discussion (http://aka.ms/ITManager), and presents live TechNet Events throughout the central U.S. (http://www.technetevents.com). When he's not busy learning or blogging about new technologies, Kevin enjoys digital photography and videography, and sings in a band. (Q: Midlife crisis? A: More cowbell!) He continues to challenge his TechNet Event audiences to sing Karaoke with him.