Windows Server 2012 licensing

I have been catching up on a lot of MVA courses lately and one of them mentioned a short course on Server 2012 licensing so I checked that out yesterday.

The first half of the course made sense to me but the second half didn’t. Mainly coz I haven’t worked with Server & Cloud Enrollment (SCE) and the course assumes you are aware of it, so it only talks about the improvements with Server 2012 R2. From the first half here are some salient points:

  • Server 2012 R2 has four editions. Two of these are for small business (less than 25 & 15 users). Two of these are for private clouds.
    • The private cloud editions are Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. 
    • The small business editions are Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation.
  • Unlike Server 2008 where the three private cloud editions – Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter – had differing features, now Standard and Datacenter have the same features. They only differ in terms of virtual instance licenses (i.e. the number of times you can use the license as a virtual server).
    • Standard has two virtual instance licenses.
      • Worth noting that these virtual licenses can be stacked. That is if you attach two licenses to a server then you get 2+2 = 4 virtual licenses. 
      • If you have multiple licenses, when you step up from Standard to Datacenter via the Software Assurance program you can only exchange one Standard license for a Datacenter license. Meaning, you can’t step up two Standard licenses for one Datacenter licenses. It’s a one-t0-one upgrade. 
    • Datacenter has unlimited virtual instance licenses. (This explains why all the Microsoft training centers use Datacenter! No need to worry about guest OS licensing then.)
  • Also, in Server 2008 Datacenter was licensed per processor, while Enterprise and Standard were licensed per server. But in Server 2012 R2 both Standard and Datacenter are licensed per processor.
    • A single license covers up to two processors on a single server. 
  • In contrast Server 2012 R2 Foundation and Essentials are licensed per server. 
    • Essentials is licensed per server for a maximum of two processors.
    • Foundation is licensed per server for a maximum of one processor. 
  • Unlike Server 2008, both versions of Server 2012 – Data Center and Standard – have the same features. Only difference is in terms of virtualization. The Data Center edition supports unlimited virtual guests, the Standard edition only supports two.
  • In addition to the licensing above, you also need device or user Client Access Licenses (CALs).