Microsoft® recently announced the licensing use rights for the new Windows Server® 2012. Windows Server® 2012 is designed to meet the demands of private and public cloud computing as well as managing the proliferation of mobile devices, applications and services.

This document provides an analysis of the impact these changes will have on your IT budget.


Edition Overview


Microsoft has simplified the number of editions to four:




Licensing model

  • Highly virtualized environments.
  • Unlimited virtual instances


Per processor license + Client Access License

  • Non virtualized or limited virtual environments
  • Two virtual instances


Per Processor license + Client Access License



  • Small businesses with up to 25 users running on servers with up to two processors
  • Single processor license

Per Server: 25 User Limit



  • Small businesses with up to 15 users running on single processor servers
  • Sold with the hardware as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)


Per Server: 15 User Limit (Sold with hardware)


Licensing Details

  • There is no longer an Enterprise Edition of Windows Server®.
  • The two editions have exactly the same features; the difference is in the virtualization rights. The Standard edition allows for two virtual instances per license whereas the Datacenter edition allows for unlimited virtual instances.
  • For Standard Edition you can add more virtual instances by assigning additional licenses (two virtual instances per license).
  • The Windows Server® license covers TWO physical processors.
  • A Windows Server® Client Access License (CAL) will also be required for all users or devices that will be accessing the server.
  • If you are making use of the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Active Directory Rights Management Services (RMS), you will need the appropriate CAL as an additive license.


Transitioning to the new licensing model


If you have Software Assurance on your current Windows Server® licenses, the following will apply:


Current license

Conversion ratio

New license










SBS Essentials



Web Server



High Performance Computing Server Suite




If you conduct a self-assessment using a tool like the Microsoft® Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit and you provide a time-stamped report to Microsoft®, you will receive additional license grants.

  • For eight processor servers running Windows Server® Enterprise Edition you will receive two additional Standard edition licenses.
  • For four processor servers running Windows Server® Standard Edition (or HPC) you will receive one additional Standard edition license.




  • In order to maximize the transition rights, make sure you conduct the self-assessment mentioned above.
  • Select per device licenses if you have less devices than users and per user licenses if you have more devices than users.
  • The break-even point between Standard and Datacenter edition is roughly 5.5 virtual instances. Datacenter edition allows for unlimited virtual instances and would definitely be the more appropriate option where you are running a highly virtualized environment.
  • Where you are also deploying Microsoft® System Center technologies as well as Windows Server®, consider the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI) as a more cost effective method for licensing your datacenters.

Nov 2016