Windows Server 2016 licensing and editions

Microsoft has introduced some changes to the Windows Server 2016 licensing and editions in the known model, with the release.

The small Foundation Edition is now entirely eliminated, due to the Enterprise Edition which has already been discontinued with Windows Server 2012. This means that even small companies must now rely on the Standard Edition or have a more favorable, but also significantly limited option.

However, the features of each edition has already been modified. So the Standard Edition no longer has all the features of the Data Center Edition. The difference is mainly in the high-availability options such as storage replication, direct storage spaces or shielded virtual machines. These new features are only available in the Data Center version. All core features are of course as usual included in the Standard Edition.

Windows Server 2016 licensing and editions: Edition DataCenter

The Microsoft Windows Server license operating systems are offered in various editions similar to the desktop version. In addition to the general licensing based on the core, the editions now differ in the scope of functions. The largest and most comprehensive edition is the Data Center version. In the past, the Data Center Edition did not differ from the normal standard server. Hence, only the licensing was different. While only 2 virtual instances were allowed to run on a Windows Server standard, a Windows Server Data Center provided the opportunity to install unlimited virtual instances. The key of the host system could be used for all Windows virtual machines, so that no additional license fees for the VMs was incurred.

On a single Hyper-V host, the Data Center Edition already has financial benefits or advantages as of the twelfth VM. In a failover cluster, each Windows VM requires a valid license for each host. The licenses are always bound to the physical hardware. Therefore, Windows Server standard is rarely employed in failover clusters.

Several features for high availability are now reserved for the Data Center Edition. This will provide a further incentive for many customers to prefer the more expensive license, even if the above VM limits are not exceeded.

Anyone who will be interested in the new storages spaces direct (S2D) or the storage replication will not come around the Windows Server 2016 Data Center. The shielded VMs are also available only in the Data Center Edition. The host required for the shielded VMs guardian service is included, on a standard server.

Windows Server 2016 licensing

With regards to the actual Windows Server license, Microsoft has once again applied the red pen and now builds the new licensing model on the basis of physical CPU cores. The only exceptions here are the “special editions”, such as (for example) the Essentials Edition, which still is licensed via the CPU socket and which also requires no CALs. The same applies to the storage server 2016 or even the new MultiPoint servers, which are licensed only on the number of physical processors (socket). The Hyper-V Server 2016 without GUI is still available free of charge with all it features.

Windows Server 2016 licensing and editions: All physical cores must be licensed

Summary: You need to pay attention to the following points when licensing:

All physical cores in one server must be licensed.

You must license at least 16 cores, this represents the smallest available size of OEM licenses, as well as the minimum number for retail or VL licenses.

Additional physical cores must also be licensed in 2 packages.

Pricewise, Microsoft designed the whole thing so that a 2-core license pack will cost just one-eighth of the price of a Windows Server 2012R2. Thus, the required licenses for a server with 16 or fewer physical cores, cost the same as a server with 2 CPUs on the basis of Windows Server 2012R2. Server with more cores are correspondingly more expensive.

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