NAKIVO Blog

Windows Server 2016 Licensing

With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft has moved to a per-core licensing model instead of socket-based licensing. This includes the following details:

  • All physical cores in the server must be licensed
  • Servers are licensed based on the number of processor cores in the physical server
  • A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server
  • A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor
  • Core licenses will be sold in packs of two
  • Eight 2-core packs will be the minimum required to license each physical server
  • Standard Edition provides rights for up to two OSEs or Hyper-V containers when all physical cores in the server are licensed. For every two additional VMs, all the cores in the server have to be licensed again.
  • The price of 16 core licenses of the Datacenter and Standard edition will be the same price as the 2-processor license of the corresponding editions of Windows Server 2012 R2

Additional information can be found in the Windows Server 2016 Licensing Datasheet.

Windows Server 2016 Editions

  • Datacenter Edition – core licensing
  • Standard Edition – core licensing
  • Essentials Edition – processor based licensing

As mentioned, Microsoft has transitioned the licensing model of Standard and Datacenter editions to the per-core licensing model since October 2016 which coincides with the GA of Windows Server 2016. Customers that currently have Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing at their first renewal that follows the GA of Windows Server 2016 after October 2016. Any net new licenses that are purchased from an OEM, etc, will be the core-based model.

The license model for Windows Server 2016 requires both the Cores licenses as well as CALs or client access licenses. So, not really anything new on the client access side. They still require CALs to access.

The Essentials is still licensed based on a processor-based model and no CALs are required for accessing this server edition.

Windows Server 2016 Service Agreement

In previous versions of Windows, the Server model has been serviced and supported with 5 years of mainstream service and then 5 years of extended support known as LTSB or Long Term Branch Support. This model continues with Windows Server 2016 for customers who choose to install the full Windows Server 2016 Desktop with a GUI or the Server Core model.

If you install the Nano server, however, you will be opting in the current branch model which assumes a more active servicing model that is similar to Windows 10. This model much more quickly provides new features and functionality.