This article describes the new Windows Server 2016 Licensing model (per-core licensing) Microsoft has implemented for its new server-based operating system. While the Windows Server 2012 Licensing model was fairly straight forward: per CPU Pair + CALS/DAL for Standard and Datacenter editions, Microsoft has decided to change its licensing arrangements thanks to the continuously increasing number of available cores per physical processor which has caused significant losses to its profits.
Taking into consideration that the Intel Xeon E7-8890v4 contains a total of 24 cores capable of supporting up to 48 threads, one can quickly understand the software giant’s intention and why it is no longer continuing the per CPU Pair model for its Standard and Datacenter server editions.
Windows Server 2016 License Models
The Windows Server 2016 licensing model consists of per-core/processor + Client Access Licenses (CALs). Each user or device accessing a Windows Server Standard, Datacenter or Multipoint edition requires a Windows CAL or a Windows Server and a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL.
In addition to these changes many would be surprised to know that there is now a minimum number of Per-Core licenses required per physical CPU and Server:
- A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical CPU.
- A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server.
- A 2-core license pack is the minimum amount of core licenses you can purchase. E.g you’ll need four 2-core license packs (4x2) to fully license an 8-core CPU.
- The 2-core license is priced at 1/8 (one eighth) the price of a 2-CPU license for corresponding Windows 2012 R2 editions in order to keep the pricing similar. This means the pricing of a 16-core Windows 2016 Datacenter server is equal to a 2-CPU Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter server.
How Licensing Changes Affect Small Windows Server Deployments
Thankfully not much. Microsoft has adjusted its per-Core license pricing in such a way so that a small deployment of up to 16-cores per physical server will be the same pricing as a Windows server 2012 2-CPU License.
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The price difference becomes apparent for larger customers with a server deployed that exceeds 8-cores per CPU and 16-cores per server. These customers will end up paying additional money for their licenses. For example a server with 2 x Intel Xeon E7-8890v4 CPUs means a total of 48 cores. Installing a Windows server 2012 Standard server means that the initial license will cover up to 16 out of the 48 cores and the customer will need to purchase additional licenses to cover the 32 extra cores! It’s now clear why big customers are going to be paying the big bucks!
The following table explains where additional licenses are required depending on the number of CPUs (processors) and cores per CPU. Remember - Minimum 8 cores/processor; 16 cores/server:
Figure 1. Windows Server 2016 Licensing: Calculating Licensing needs per CPU & Core
Windows Server 2016 Editions Overview, Licensing Models & CAL Requirements
Microsoft offers its Windows Server 2016 in 6 different editions. Let’s take a look at them and explain their primary role and usage: