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Windows Server 2016: Complete Guide and FAQs

Posted by Laura Vanassche on Nov 17, 2016 2:46:41 PM
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It may be an understatement to say that Microsoft has caused quite a bit of disruption with the new release of Windows Server 2016. In summary, here are the highlights of the new licensing rules:

  • To license a physical server, all physical cores must be licensed in the server
  • A minimum of eight core licenses are required for each physical processor in the server
  • A minimum of 16 cores are required to be licensed per physical servers—however, all cores must be included in the licensing count
  • Core licenses are sold in packs of two
  • The Standard Edition of Windows Server licenses up to two VMs/OSE when all of the physical cores on the server are licensed. To add two more VMs, double your license count.
  • The price of 16-core licenses of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and Standard Edition will be about the same price as the two processor license of the corresponding editions of the Windows Server 2012 R2 version. No implicit price change in this scenario.
  • CALs are still required with this core model license.
Crystal clear, right? To help ensure you and your clients are compliant and understand the changes, review the most frequently asked questions below:

Can I still buy Windows Server 2012?

Windows Server 2012 was removed from the price list on September 30, 2016.

If I purchase Windows Server 2016 can I downgrade to the 2012 version?

Yes, you can downgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 in the Open license program.

If I am adding server/user count will it work with my existing 2012 licenses?

Yes, you can downgrade your new licenses to Windows Server 2012 R2.

I need to renew my Windows Server licenses and CAL’s – how does the new licensing model affect the renewal?

After Windows Server 2016’s general availability and at renewal of the agreement, licenses with Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing. On-premise customers with Software Assurance will be granted a minimum of eight cores per processor and 16 cores per server licenses for each two-processor license at renewal of the agreement. Customers with Standard Edition licenses and Software Assurance with more than eight cores per processor and 16 cores per server will receive “core grants” to cover the additional cores at SA only cost for the extra cores.  Microsoft does require that you maintain documentation if you have more than 8 cores per processor  Tech Data recommends using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit to verify the number of cores that are higher than eight cores per processor—and keep the report on file in case the client is audited.

I need to add two more VMs to my server. How do I license it?

Double your core count licenses.
Now let’s look at licensing scenarios to help you understand how to license and a few resources to help you along the way.


I need a quote for two – Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Licenses and 100 server CALs?
First, we need to understand:
  • How many servers?
  • How many processers and how many cores in the processor
  • How many Virtual Machines (VMs)?
See this calculator to help get the correct licensing requirements (hosted on Docs.com). You need a minimum of 16 cores (eight of the two-core packs) regardless of configuration to remain compliant.
Other common configurations:

Server Details

Licensing Requirements

One server with a dual 6 core processor w 2VM

Qty 8, 2-core pack licenses needed

One server w/ dual 10 core processors w/ 2 VM

Qty 10, 2-core pack licenses

One server with dual 10 core processors 4 VM

Qty 20, 2-core pack licenses


MAP Toolkit

We highly recommend that Microsoft Partners use the free Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit to ensure Windows Server 2016 licensing is compliant, and will serve as proof if you were to be audited by Microsoft. This is extremely important in the case of renewals, if your clients were to receive core grants.

Licensing Chart

This is a quick little guide to help you determine the correct number of licenses, and shows the pricing comparison from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016.

Licensing Calculator

Access this FREE Windows Server 2016 calculator hosted on Docs.com to properly license your customer’s servers under the new licensing rules.
After reading, we hope you feel comfortable with the new licensing terms, and understand how this affects your clients.
Questions? Call or email the Tech Data Microsoft licensing specialists at 1-800-237-8931 Ext. 82031 or Microsoft@techdata.com. If you have a specific configuration, have the answers to these three questions so we can answer on the first call:
How many servers?
How many processers and how many cores in the processor?
How many Virtual Machines (VMs)?

Tags: tag-4, Windows Server