Datacenter edition is ideal for customers who want to have a highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environment. As always, it provides access to all the product features and enables unlimited instances of Windows Server with each license, enabling your virtual environment to grow as you do. The licensing for Datacenter edition will continue to be processor plus CAL (Client Access License), with each license covering up to two physical processors on a single server.
Standard edition is ideal for those customers who want to have a physical or lightly virtualized environment. This edition enables you to run up to two virtual instances of Windows Server with each license and provides all the same features as Datacenter edition. The licensing for Standard edition will continue to be processor plus CAL, with each license covering up to two physical processors on a single server, just like Datacenter edition.
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. This edition enables you to run a single virtual instance of Essentials. The licensing for Essentials will continue to be a server license for a two processor server that does not require CALs.
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 sold only through OEM (original equipment manufacturer).
Windows Server 2012 R2 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 edition easier while delivering the following benefits.
It’s easier than ever to determine the right Windows Server edition for you. Choose from just four editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, based on the size of your organization and your requirements for virtualization and cloud computing.
All editions of Windows Server 2012 deliver excellent economy 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 the same enterprise-class features as Datacenter and is differentiated only by virtualization rights.
Businesses today are rapidly adopting a hybrid approach across private and public cloud computing. Windows Server 2012 R2 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 and Pricing Overview
High Level Feature Comparison
Pricing Open NL (US$)
Highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments
Full Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
Low-density or non-virtualized environments
Full Windows Server functionality with two virtual instances
Processor + CAL*
Small business environments
Simpler interface, preconfigured connectivity to cloud-based services; no virtualization rights
Server (25 User Account Limit)
Economical general purpose server
General purpose server functionality with no virtualization rights
Server (15 User Account Limit)
*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.
Find licensing and pricing details in the downloadable datasheet.
Get a full quote that you can share with colleagues or your reseller.
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.
Server and Cloud Enrollment
The Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) is a new enrollment under the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that enables highly committed customers to standardize broadly on one or more of the four Server and Cloud technologies from Microsoft. In exchange for making an installed-base–wide commitment to an SCE component, Server and Cloud Enrollment customers receive a range of benefits, including new cloud-optimized licensing options, simplified license management, and the best pricing and terms. Learn more.
Q: How is Windows Server 2012 R2 licensed?
A: Windows Server 2012 R2 will continue to have the same licensing model as Windows Server 2012, with two editions available in volume licensing: Standard edition and Datacenter edition. Editions are differentiated by virtualization rights only (two OSEs for Standard, and unlimited OSEs for Datacenter). A single license covers up to two physical processors.
Client Access Licenses (CALs) are required for each user or device accessed. The Windows Server 2012 related CALs provide entitlement to access and use Windows 2012 R2 functionality.
Q: What is the difference between Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition?
A: Both Standard and Datacenter editions provide the same set of features; the differentiator is the number of Virtual Operating System Environments (VOSE). A Standard edition license entitles up to two VOSEs on up to two processors (subject to the VOSE use rights outlined in the Product Use Rights document for Volume Licensing or End User License Agreement for other channels). A Datacenter edition license entitles an unlimited number of VOSEs on up to two processors.
Q: What are some of the features available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and Standard editions?
A: There are a variety of new features in Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and Standard editions. Here are just a few examples:
Enterprise-class virtual machine density, performance, and mobility with best-in-class performance and scale for Microsoft workloads
High-performance file-based storage on cost-effective, industry-standard hardware with inbox storage virtualization and tiering
Highly available, in-box hybrid networking for bridging physical and virtual networks in a multi-tenant environment and across premises
Protection and recovery of assets for all your workloads with simple and affordable disaster recovery options
Flexible remote access to corporate resources from virtually anywhere and on any device while helping to protect corporate information
Q: How do I determine which Windows Server 2012 R2 edition is right for me?
A: Because there is feature parity between Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Datacenter editions, your decision will be based on your virtualization strategy, as virtualization rights are the only differentiator between the editions. If your strategy calls for a highly virtualized environment, Datacenter edition will provide you with optimum flexibility because it allows for unlimited virtualization. This edition gives you the elasticity to add and move virtual OSEs across Datacenter licensed servers without needing to track the virtual OSE count on that server. If you don’t plan to have a highly virtualized environment, Standard edition is the right product for your needs. If you purchase Standard edition today but find you need to expand the virtualization capacity of your licensed server, you can do one of the following:
Purchase additional Standard edition licenses and assign them to the same physical server, giving you the rights to run additional instances of Windows Server. The server must have the appropriate number of licenses assigned to it to ensure coverage of all of the virtual OSEs that are running at any given time.
Purchase a Software Assurance Step-up license to Datacenter edition, changing the license to a higher edition that allows unlimited virtual OSEs. To use this benefit, your underlying license must have Software Assurance.
Q: If I have a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition license, how can I increase my virtualization rights?
A: With the Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition licensing model, you can grow your virtualization environment by either buying a step-up license to Datacenter edition if you have Software Assurance, or by simply buying additional Standard edition licenses and assigning them to the same physical server. The server must have the appropriate number of licenses assigned to it to ensure coverage of all of the virtual OSEs that are running at any given time. For example, if you have a two-processor server and want to run a total of four VOSEs, you can purchase two Standard edition licenses and assign them to the same server. Additional examples are shown in the following table.
Number of Standard edition licenses on a single server
Total number of VOSEs
For answers to additional frequently asked questions, download the Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing Guide (PDF, 667 KB).