Windows Server 2016 Licensing

With Windows Server 2016, and also System Center 2016, the licensing model changes. Now it’s a bit more complicated than it was with Server 2012 R2.

As you may know, back with Windows Server 2012 R2 there where two editions: Standard and Datacenter, and both versions using the same feature set but are different when we are speaking about virtual systems. But the easy thing was, that the licensing was processor socket based.

Now, let’s have a look at the Windows Server 2016 licensing model. The big change that there is no more socket based licensing. With WS 2016 it’s processor core based licensing. So you have to buy licenses for each core, but only real cores count, so no panic for hyper-threading.

These are the new rules about licensing in detail:

  • Each physical server will be required to be licensed for all physical cores
  • Each physical processor will be required to be licensed with a minimum of 8 physical cores
  • Each physical server will be required to be licensed with a minimum of two processors, totaling a minimum of 16 physical cores
  • Core licenses will be sold in two-core packs

Let’s have a look at this licensing table:


(Source: Microsoft)

As you can see, if you have a server with 2 processors with 8 cores each (16 cores in total) you only need the minimum number of licensing you have to buy.

With Windows Server 2016 there will be five different versions of Windows Server:

  • Windows Server 2016 Standard
    • Default version for small or less virtualized environments which does not provide all functions
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
    • Version for enterprise and high virtualizes environments with comes with all functions including Storage Spaces Direct (S2D)
  • Windows Server 2016 Essentials
    • Descendant of the Small Business Server
  • Windows Server 2016 MultiPoint Premium Server
    • Special version for education customers
  • Windows Storage Server 2016
    • Special OEM version of Windows Server 2016 like the 2012 Storage Server version

The license also covers the whole new deployment type Nano Server!

For more information’s about Windows Server and System Center 2016 licensing refer to this official Microsoft document, which covers most questions about licensing.

Greetings 🙂

2 thoughts on “Windows Server 2016 Licensing

  1. Just one annotation: To deploy and operate Nano Server in production you are required to have an Software Assurance (SA) as outlined in the license document you added. In some scenarios this is a separate purchase. I suspect this will limit the adoption of Nano even more as the lack of the GUI.

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