In these days Microsoft published an overview on Windows 2012’s Editions and Licensing.
From an editions perspective we find two “main” editions, Standard and Datacenter, differentiated only by virtualization rights: two virtual instances for Standard and unlimited for Datacenter.
The VMs are entitled to run on up to two processors for both editions.
All the features available in the Datacenter edition are also available in the Standard edition, including high availability features like failover clustering, that make the choice between Windows Server 2012′ editions based only on companies’ virtualization strategy.
Windows 2012 Essential and Foundation don’t have any virtualization right.
If we look at Windows 2012 licensing FAQ we can find something interesting:
- If I have a Windows Server 2012 Standard edition license, how can I increase my virtualization rights?
With the Windows Server 2012 Standard edition licensing model, you can grow your virtualization environment by either stepping up your license to Datacenter edition if you have Software Assurance, or by simply buying additional Standard edition licenses and assigning them to the same physical server. For example, if you have a 2-processor server and want to run a total of 4 VMs, you can purchase two Standard edition licenses and assign them to the same server. Additional examples are shown in the table below.
- Why is Windows Server 2012 licensing moving to a processor model?
By making this change, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and the Core Infrastructure Server (CIS) will all have consistent licensing model creating alignment across Microsoft infrastructure products. Having a single-licensing model will make it easier for you to buy the right product for your needs and to compare the cost of alternatives (such as individual products, the CIS SKU outside of ECI, ECI and so on). Additionally, the new licensing model provides a single, familiar, and easy-to-track metric for all infrastructure products further reducing management overhead.
Definitively a must-read document.