Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 captures the experience Microsoft has gained from building and operating public clouds to deliver a highly dynamic, available, and cost-effective server platform for your datacenter and your private cloud. It offers customers a scalable, multitenant-aware cloud infrastructure that helps organizations’ distributed and mobile workforces connect more securely across premises and allows IT to respond to business needs faster and more efficiently. The content on this website provides an overview of your key licensing options.

Improvements to Windows Server 2012 Licensing

Windows Server 2012 brings our company’s experience building and operating public clouds to the server platform for private clouds. The new licensing and packaging makes it easier to manage workloads in highly virtualized public and private cloud environments. Windows Server 2012 will move to a consistent licensing model and will have common features enabling the reduction of editions. These include:

  • Two editions, Standard and Datacenter.

  • Single licenses that cover up to two physical processors.

  • Editions differentiated by virtualization rights only (two for Standard; unlimited for Datacenter).

The Windows Server 2012 Editions

Datacenter

Datacenter edition is ideal for customers that want to have a highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environment. As always, it provides access to all of the product features and enables unlimited instances of Windows Server with each license. The licensing for Datacenter edition will continue to be processor plus CAL; however, with the release of Windows Server 2012, the license will now cover up to two physical processors on a single server.

Standard

Standard edition is ideal for those customers that want to have a physical or lightly virtualized environment. This edition will now enable a customer to run up to two virtual instances of Windows Server with each license and provide all of the same features as Datacenter edition. The licensing for Standard edition will change with the release of Windows Server 2012 and will now be the same as Datacenter edition. The licensing for Standard edition will be processor plus CAL, where each license will cover up to two physical processors on a single server.

Essentials

Essentials edition is ideal for small businesses that have up to 25 users and want to have a simpler, pre-configured connection to cloud-based services. While this edition does not enable the running of any virtualized instances, it can be used in a virtual instance. The licensing for Essentials has not changed; it continues to be a server license for a two processor server that does not require CALs.

Foundation

Foundation edition is ideal for small businesses that have up to 15 users and want a general purpose server. The licensing for Foundation has not changed; it continues to be a server license for a one processor server that does not require CALs and is only sold through OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Edition

Ideal for...

High Level Feature Comparison

Licensing Model

Pricing Open NL (US$)

Datacenter
Highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments
Full Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
$4,809**
Standard
Low density or non-virtualized environments
Full Windows Server functionality with two virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
$882**
Essentials
Small business environments
Simpler interface, pre-configured connectivity to cloud based services; no virtualization rights
Server (25 User Account Limit)
$501**
Foundation
Economical general purpose server
General purpose server functionality with no virtualization rights
Server (15 User Account Limit)
OEM Only

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

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

Windows Server 2012 How to Buy

Windows Server 2012 delivers a dramatically simplified licensing experience. Shaped by feedback from customers and partners, the new Windows Server licensing approach will help make choosing the right Windows Server easier while delivering the following benefits.

Simple

It’s easier than ever to determine the right Windows Server edition for you. Choose from just four editions of Windows Server 2012, based on the size of your organization and your requirements for virtualization and cloud computing.

Economical

All editions of Windows Server 2012 deliver excellent economics and ROI for your business. For example, Datacenter edition with unlimited virtualization rights provides the benefits of cloud-level scale with predictable, lower costs. Standard edition now offers all of the same enterprise-class features as Datacenter and is differentiated only by virtualization rights.

Cloud-optimized

Businesses today are rapidly adopting a hybrid approach across private and public cloud computing. Windows Server 2012 offers the right edition for you, no matter where you are on your path to the cloud; Datacenter edition for highly virtualized cloud environments, Standard edition for lightly virtualized environments progressing toward cloud, or Essentials edition for an ideal cloud-connected first server.

Edition & Pricing Overview

Edition

Ideal for...

High Level Feature Comparison

Licensing Model

Pricing Open NL (US$)

Datacenter
Highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments
Full Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
$4,809**
Standard
Low density or non-virtualized environments
Full Windows Server functionality with two virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
$882**
Essentials
Small business environments
Simpler interface, pre-configured connectivity to cloud based services; no virtualization rights
Server (25 User Account Limit)
$501**
Foundation
Economical general purpose server
General purpose server functionality with no virtualization rights
Server (15 User Account Limit)
OEM Only

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

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

You can purchase Windows Server 2012 licenses through multiple channels, providing you with optimum flexibility and choice to acquire the software. Learn more about the channels below and determine the option that best meets your needs.

Licensing

Find licensing and pricing details in the downloadable datasheet.

Price Quote

Get a full quote that you can share with colleagues or your reseller.

Microsoft Sales

Connect with a Microsoft sales office near you.

Microsoft offers volume licensing programs to help reduce administrative overhead and software-management costs for your organization, while enabling product licensing on an ongoing basis at considerable discounts. The various licensing options enable you to choose the program that works best for your management and operational needs.

Resources

The Enterprise Enrollment lets you standardize on the familiar Microsoft tools you use every day, and move them beyond the desktop to equip devices and users where they are needed. With the Enterprise Enrollment, you can choose to run PC and device software and cloud services across your organization. Such organization-wide implementations help you reduce device and user management and support costs, and also provide additional pricing advantages above the standard volume pricing levels.

Resources

A managed hosting provider delivers IT as a service, enabling you to reduce capital expenses and devote your resources to growing your business. Save time and money by letting Hyper- V Cloud service providers take care of your IT needs.

Cloud Service Providers

Microsoft Partners can help you evaluate, plan, deploy and manage any type of system—from a small business implementation of Windows Server 2008 R2, to supporting the largest enterprise applications built on the latest technology. You can find solutions and services offered by our Windows Server Partners that can meet the needs and requirements for your IT projects. Search for partners near you, across the country, or across the world.

Microsoft Partners

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) software is only available when preloaded on a Server. The hardware vendor provides product support. In most cases, Windows Server OEM software is pre-loaded on the Server that you purchase. Check to make sure it is a Microsoft Genuine product and be sure to ask your Microsoft Business Partner which software products can be pre-loaded to your Computer or Server.

OEM Partners

Frequently Asked Questions About Windows Server 2012 Licensing

Windows Server 2012 brings our company's experience building and operating public clouds to the server platform for private clouds. The new licensing and packaging makes it easier to manage workloads in highly virtualized public and private cloud environments. Windows Server 2012 will move to a consistent licensing model and will have common features enabling the reduction of editions. These include:

  • Two editions, Standard and Datacenter.

  • Single licenses that cover up to two physical processors.

  • Editions differentiated by virtualization rights only (two for Standard; unlimited for Datacenter).

Yes. As part of the alignment with the Microsoft private cloud licensing model, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012, as well as Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI), will have the same licensing and packaging structure. These include:

  • Two editions, Standard and Datacenter.

  • Single licenses that cover up to two physical processors.

  • Editions differentiated by virtualization rights only (two for Standard; unlimited for Datacenter).

  • Client Access Licenses (CALs) will continue to be required for access to Windows Server 2012 servers.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the latest version of Windows Small Business Server Essentials. It is a cloud-enabled first server with an intuitive user interface. It can run on physical servers with up to two processors and has been designed for small businesses with up to 25 users.

Since there is feature parity between Windows Server 2012 Standard and Datacenter editions, your decision will be based solely on your virtualization strategy as virtualization rights become the only differentiator between editions.

If your strategy calls for a highly virtualized environment, Datacenter edition will provide you with optimum flexibility since it allows for unlimited virtualization. If you do not plan on a highly virtualized environment at this time, Standard edition is the right product for your needs.

If you purchase Standard edition today but find that you need more capacity in the future, you will have two options to expand the virtualization capacity of your licensed server:

  • Purchase additional Standard edition licenses and assign them to the same physical server giving you the rights to run additional instances of Windows Server, or

  • If you have Software Assurance on your Standard license you can purchase a Software Assurance Step-Up and migrate to a Datacenter edition license on that server

If you are running a highly virtualized environment, management may also be a need for you. You should consider purchasing System Center 2012 with Windows Server 2012 together in the Core Infrastructure Suite, which is available inside or outside of an Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI) agreement.

If you are a small business with up to 25 users and want to have the ability to be connected to the cloud, Windows Server 2012 Essentials will provide you with the platform to run critical line-of-business applications and other on‑premise workloads. It can also provide an integrated management experience when running cloud-based applications and services, such as email, collaboration, online backup, and more.

The number of licenses that you will need depends on the number of physical processors on the server and the number of server instances that you will be running. (This applies only for Standard edition because Datacenter edition allows for unlimited VMs.) The larger of these two numbers determines the number of total licenses required.

Determining the number of physical processor licenses

Each license covers up to two physical processors, so to determine the number of licenses needed to fully license a physical server, simply count the number of physical processors in the server, divide that number by two and that tells you the number of licenses that will be needed.

Here are some examples:

  • You have a 2-processor server. 2 physical processors / 2 (number of processors covered by a license) equals 1. You will need one license to cover a 2-processor server.

  • You have a 4-processor server. 4 physical processors / 2 (number of processors covered by a license) equals 2. You will need two licenses to cover a 4-processor server.

  • You have an 8-processor server. 8 physical processors / 2 (number of processors covered by a license) equals 4. You will need four licenses to cover an 8-processor server.

Determining the number of virtual instances running

If you want to run additional VMs but do not require the highly virtualized environment that Datacenter provides (which is unlimited VMs), then you can simply purchase additional Standard edition licenses and assign them to a single physical server to increase your VM entitlements on that server.

Each Standard edition license provides you with the rights to run up to two VMs, so to determine the number of Windows Server Standard edition licenses you need, count the total number of total VMs that you will run on the server; divide that number by two, and round up to the nearest whole number.

For example, if you assign 2 Standard edition licenses to a single server, you will be able to run a total of 4 VMs on that server. If you add additional Standard edition licenses to that server the number of allowed VMs on that particular server will increase by two for a total of six VMs on that server.

Once the number of licenses needed to cover a physical processor and/or additional VMs is determined, the higher of those two numbers represents the total number of licenses required.

For example, if you are running 4 virtual machines on a 2-processor server, you will require 1 license to cover the 2 processors; but you will need an additional license to run 4 virtual machines, which means you will need a total of two licenses.

No. The CAL accessing the instance of Windows Server must be equivalent or higher in version than the server being accessed. You will need a Windows Server 2012 CAL to access a Windows Server 2012 instance.

Yes. The Standard edition license will allow you to license up to two physical processors on a single server; however, it does not require that the server have two physical processors.

No. Each license can be assigned only to a single physical server.

No. All of the processors on a given server must be licensed with the same version and edition. You can run different editions or older versions of Windows Server software as guests within VMs, but you are not allowed to assign multiple licenses of different versions or editions to the same physical server to license the processors on the server.

Licensing changes will become effective at the General Availability of Windows Server 2012, which is September 4, 2012.

Download the comprehensive FAQ.

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