Understanding Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing


Microsoft introduced Windows Server 2012 R2 as the “Gateway to the Cloud.” Allowing organizations to optimize performance for important workloads, Windows Server 2012 R2 also helps to protect against service outages with robust recovery options. It provides reduced complexity and cost with comprehensive automation plus storage and networking virtualization solutions based on industry-standard hardware. It lets organizations build, run, and scale applications that can move between datacenters and the cloud, and allows businesses to provide users with flexible remote access from virtually anywhere and any device while helping to protect corporate information.

To properly deploy Windows Server, organizations require proper licensing to adhere to compliancy and proper utilization of their investment. To do this organizations need to choose the edition that is right for their needs.  These editions include:

  • Datacenter edition** – enabling highly-virtualized private cloud environments.
  • Standard edition** - for non-virtualized or lightly virtualized environments.
  • Essentials edition - for small businesses with up to 25 users running on servers with up to two processors.
  • Foundation edition - for small businesses with up to 15 users running on single processor servers.
    **Client Access Licenses (CALs) are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the Product Use Rights for details.

Two other features introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2 Editions include:

  • Windows Server Essentials now available as a role within Standard and Datacenter editions.
  • Introduced AVMA feature with Windows Server 2012 R2 which no longer required VMs to be activated so long as a licensed Datacenter edition is present.

Remember, when planning to deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 be sure to:

  • Select the edition based on your virtualization needs and edition
  • Renewing Software Assurance can protect said investment while gaining access to new versions, technical assistance and Deployment Planning Services.
  • The Microsoft Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) continues to offer the best value for private cloud and datacenter management pricing.
  • Core CAL and Enterprise CAL Suites continue to be the most cost effective way to purchase Windows Server CALs to access workloads running on Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Datacenter editions.

Microsoft Virtual Academy offers a session entitled Licensing Windows Server 2012 R2 which provides further insight on Windows Server 2012 R2 licensing.

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