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  • Microsoft Windows Server Licensing Guide

Licensing requirements are based on a few things. Most importantly:

  • # of Processors/Cores
  • # of Users or Devices that will be accessing the Server

  • Each Year Version is a little different. Click below for more specifics

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There are 3 editions with Server 2016.

To choose the version that fits your needs the best, you need to account for current usage as well as growth

Server 2016 Editions Processing Power Client Access Licensing (CALs) Virtual Machines Supported
Essentials 1-2 CPU Not Required
Standard (16 Core) 16 Cores Per User or Device 2
Standard (24 Core) 24 Cores Per User or Device 2
Datacenter (16 Core) 16 Cores Per User or Device Unlimited
Datacenter (24 Core) 24 Cores Per User or Device Unlimited

Remote Desktop

Along with licensing hardware and CALs, each user remote accessing (using mouse and keyboard control) the server needs a Remote Desktop CAL. As with standard CALs, there are licensed in User OR Device format. You will need to license the maximum number of Users or Devices accessing the server in this way.


*note - Additional CALs can be purchased and added on AT ANY TIME


Now that you know what your licensing options are, see below for a comparison between editions.

*note - Server Standard is the most flexible option. Allows for heavy growth while still being cost effective.

Features Essentials Standard Datacenter
Core functionality of Windows Server -

OSEs / Hyper V Containers -
2

Unlimited
Windows Server Containers -
Unlimited

Unlimited
Host Guardian Service -

Nano Server
-
*

*
Storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica - -
Shielded Virtual Machines - -
Networking stack - -

There are 3 editions with Server 2012 and 2012 R2. (R2 stands for “Release 2”)

The licensing policy for both are identical. Most users choose 2012 R2 Editions as they are improved upon editions vs 2012, unless you have software specifically requiring 2012.

Server 2012 R2, 2012 Editions Processing Power Client Access Licensing (CALs) Virtual Machines Supported
Essentials 1-2 CPU Not Required 0
Standard 2 CPU Per User or Device 2
Datacenter 2 CPU Per User or Device Unlimited

Remote Desktop

Along with licensing hardware and CALs, each user remote accessing (using mouse and keyboard control) the server needs a Remote Desktop CAL. As with standard CALs, there are licensed in User OR Device format. You will need to license the maximum number of Users or Devices accessing the server in this way.


*note - Additional CALs can be purchased and added on AT ANY TIME


Now that you know how your licensing options, see the below comparison between editions. The main reason for upgrade between Standard and Datacenter is the access to unlimited Virtual Machines.

*note - Server Standard is the most flexible option. Allows for heavy growth while still being cost effective.

Server Role Datacenter/Standard Essentials
AD Certificate Services Full Limited
AD Domain Services Full Limited
Application Server Full Full
DHCP Server Full Full
DNS Server Full Limited
File Services Full Limited
Hyper-V Full Full
Network Policy & Access Servers Full Limited
Remote Desktop Access Full Limited

There are 3 editions with Server 2008 and 2008 R2. (R2 stands for “Release 2”)

The licensing policy for both are identical. Most users choose 2008 R2 Editions as they are improved upon editions vs 2008, unless you have software specifically requiring 2008.

Server 2008 R2, 2008 Editions Processing Power Client Access Licensing (CALs) Virtual Machines Supported
Standard 2 CPU, Max 4 CPU Per User or Device 1
Enterprise Full Limited 4

Remote Desktop

Along with licensing hardware and CALs, each user remote accessing (using mouse and keyboard control) the server needs a Remote Desktop CAL. As with standard CALs, there are licensed in User OR Device format. You will need to license the maximum number of Users or Devices accessing the server in this way.


*note- Additional CALs can be purchased and added AT ANY TIME


Both Standard and Enterprise have identical features. The main reason for any upgrade would be to take advantage of the additional Virtual Machines supported with Enterprise, as well as the processor cap is higher, allowing greater processing power.

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