Microsoft Changes Licensing Rules for Windows Server

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With the release of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft has once again drastically changed the license model for one of its most popular server software products. Julie Machal-Fulks, Partner at intellectual property and technology law firm Scott & Scott LLP, says that “businesses need to carefully document their current Windows Server product deployments in order to help ensure that they receive the maximum conversion value for the Windows Server licenses they currently own.”

Julie Machal-Fulks, Partner, Scott & Scott, LLP

Companies should ensure that they have the appropriate number of Windows Server licenses using the new metrics.

“As it recently did with its SQL Server database software, Microsoft radically altered its licensing model for Windows Server with the 2012 version. Windows Server is even more widely used than SQL Server, and companies could be exposing themselves to significant licensing exposure if they do not take steps to confirm their deployments and ensure that they have the appropriate number of Windows Server licenses using the new metrics,” says Julie Machal-Fulks, a partner at Scott & Scott LLP.

In the past, Windows Server was licensed predominately on a server plus client access license (CAL) basis, which required licensees to purchase a server license for each installation of the software and a CAL for each user or device that accessed the server software remotely. The exception to that rule was Windows Server Datacenter edition, which required licensees to purchase a license for each processor running on the server in addition to CALs for each user or device.

Going forward, Windows Server will be available in four editions: Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. The Foundation and Essentials editions are available only for companies with fewer than 15 or 25 users, respectively, so most companies likely will want to purchase the Standard or Datacenter editions. The only difference between those editions pertains to virtualization capacity – Standard edition will permit up to two virtual instances per license, while Datacenter will permit unlimited virtual instances. In today’s increasingly virtualized server infrastructures, many more businesses therefore will find themselves needing to acquire the top-of-the-line Microsoft operating system.

However, the more important change for many companies pertains to the license metrics for the Standard and Datacenter editions. As before, CALs will be required for all users and devices accessing the servers. However, instead of server licenses, companies will need to purchase licenses to cover the number of physical processors running on the servers. Each license will cover up to two physical processors. Microsoft’s published pricing for each 2-processor license is $882 for Standard edition and $4,809 for Datacenter edition.

As it did with SQL Server, Microsoft is allowing its customers with active Software Assurance to convert their server licenses to a quantity of processor licenses sufficient to cover current usage levels. However, in order to take advantage of that opportunity, businesses must generate a date-stamped inventory demonstrating their current Windows Server product deployments. Absent an accurate and up-to-date inventory, businesses with active Software Assurance will receive Windows Server 2012 licenses at the following conversion rates:

  • One 2-processor WS2012 Datacenter license for every two pre-WS2012 Datacenter server licenses
  • Two 2-processor WS2012 Standard licenses for every pre-WS2012 Enterprise server license
  • One 2-processor WS2012 Standard license for every pre-WS2012 Standard server license

Call 214.999.0080 to discuss the ways Scott & Scott, LLP can help maximize your existing licenses and measure the impact of upgrading to Windows Server 2012.

To review the Windows Server 2012 Licensing Data Sheet, CLICK HERE.

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Anita Scott
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