Changes to Windows Server licensing

Posted  8th June 2016

Shortly, Windows Server 2016 will change the current Windows Server licensing model.

Developed with Windows 10, Microsoft Server 2016 is an upcoming server operating system that has enhanced security, an advanced data centre and is cloud-ready to facilitate the move when the time is right for your school.

Background on licensing

Windows Server has historically been licensed by physical processors/sockets, with a minimum of 2 sockets being licensed for each server. All sockets must be covered by licensing. Taking into account today’s modern processors - that can have a huge number of cores (for example Xeon Phi with 61 cores), and also a shift to the cloud where processors are looked at by cores rather than physical processor count - Windows Server 2016 moves to core licensing.

How is Windows Server 2016 going to be licensed?

Windows Server Standard and Datacenter 2016 will be licensed on a physical core basis and the product will be sold in dual-core packs. Licences for servers with 8 cores or less per processors will be same price as the 2012 R2 two-proc licence price. Every processor will need to be covered by a minimum of 8 core licences.

The following measures will apply when Windows Server 2016 is officially released (expected Q3 2016):

  • Every processor must be licensed for at least 8 cores
  • Every server must be licensed for at least 16 cores (the same as previous versions that requires two sockets minimum to be covered)
  • All enabled cores must be covered by licensing
  • Hyper-threads do not have to be licensed, only physical cores (good to know!)
  • Core licences are sold in packs of two which means the minimum number for each server is 8 2-core packs
If you have any queries about how this will affect your school, please contact the ICT Service Desk on 0345 222 1551 Option 1 or email