Server 2012 Licensing Changes

Microsoft just released the Licensing for Windows Server 2012. This is a write up as far as I have understood so far. Just to clarify… this is my interpretation and I will of cource edit it if I find out I missed something or got something wrong.

Here are some of the changes


Windows Server 2012 Standard
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
Windows Server 2012 Essentials
Windows Server 2012 Foundation

As you can se this is a great simplification. The differences between Standard and Datacenter is only the virtualization rights. Both versions will be licensed per 2 CPUs. You can add additional standard server licenses to a Standard virtualization server to add more virtualized servers. This also means that you cannot license an OS to a Virtual machine.

Virtualization Rights

Standard will get 1+2 (2008 R2 was 1+1) and Datacenter will get 1 + infinite (just like before). This also means that you will not be able to mix the two license forms on the same box. You have the right to downgrade the license for a virtual machine but you will still have to be completely licensed for the physical box. This means that you get to use for instance a Windows Server 2008 R2 instance but it will have a Server 2012 license.

Windows Server Essentials

This the new version of Windows Small Business Server Essentials. It has the same limitations. The SBS Standard Server has been discontinued instead there will be an option to upgrade the server to standard when you reach the 25 user limit. You will also be able to add an Exchange server on premise but then you will have to buy en additional Windows License, an Exchange license and Exchange CALs. The Premium Edition has also been discontinued. The same thing holds true here as in the Exchange case, you will have to buy and additional server license, SQL license and SQL CALs. If you want both Exchange and SQL and it is OK to virtualize them on the same hardware you will only need one Server OS license since you with each license get 2 virtualized instances.

UI will be back with more information in this and Windows Server Foundation as soon as I know more…

Windows Server Web Edition

Windows Server Web Edition has also been discontinued which means that you will have to use the standard edition instead. The CAL waiver that applied to web applications on Web Edition is also present in standard as long as the server is only used as a Web Server.


Edition Ideal for…
High Level Feature
Licensing Model Pricing
Open NL (US$)
Datacenter Highly virtualized
private & hybrid
cloud environments
Full Windows
Server functionality
with unlimited
virtual instances
Processor + CAL* $4,809**
Standard Low density or non-
Full Windows
Server functionality
with two virtual
Processor + CAL* $882**

Small business
environmentsSimpler interface,
connectivity to
cloud based services; no
virtualization rightsServer (25 User
Account Limit)$425**

FoundationEconomical general
purpose serverGeneral purpose
server functionality
with no
virtualization rightsServer (15 User
Account Limit)OEM Only

*CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server directly or indirectly. See the Product Use Rightsfor details.

**Pricing represents Open No Level (NL) ERP. For your specific pricing, contact your Microsoft reseller.