Windows Server 2012 Licensing
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Windows Server 2012 Licensing

Welcome to the ITFreeTraining video on Windows
Server 2012 licensing. Windows Server 2012 is licensed under two main parts, the server
license and client access licenses. In this video, I will look at server licenses. By
the end of the video, you will know how many licenses you need according to how many CPU’s
your server has and how many virtual server instances you plan to run.
When you purchase Windows Server 2012 you purchase the right to install Windows Server
2012. The license you obtain with Windows Server 2012 determines how many physical CPU’s
can be used with that install and also how many virtual machines can be installed at
no extra cost. Shown here is the license limitations per
edition of Windows Server 2012. To start with, you can see the Datacenter edition, like all
the other editions, allows one physical install per server install but an unlimited amount
of virtual Windows Server 2012 virtual instances to be run on that physical server. Virtual
instances must be run on the same physical server. They can be run on a different physical
server only if there are licenses on that server that allow this.
With the one license you can have a maximum of 2 CPUs in the physical CPU in the server.
Datacenter does support up to 64 CPUs which if you have a server with more than 2 CPUs
you will need to purchase additional licenses. Later in the video I will cover purchasing
additional licenses to allow you to run additional CPU’s and virtual servers.
The 2 CPU license count only refers to the number of physical CPUs, there is no limit
to how many cores each CPU has. The next edition, the standard edition, only
differs from the Datacenter in the number of virtual server instances it supports. The
standard edition supports two, I will cover how these work and how to add additional licenses
later in the video. The next edition, the essentials editions,
allows only one install, either a physical install or a virtual install. The essentials
edition supports only 2 CPUs so this means you can only use one or two CPU’s with the
Essentials editions regards how many licenses you have.
The last edition, the Foundation edition, supports only a physical install. It does
not support a virtual install. It also only supports one CPU. The Foundation edition is
more designed to provide basic features for a small office so it does not require additional
features. I will now look at adding additional CPU license and virtual server instance licenses
starting with CPU. Adding CPU licenses is quite easy. For Standard
and Datacenter, if you want to use more than 2 CPUs in the one physical server you need
to purchase another copy of Windows Server 2012. This new copy or license will effectively
allow that server to use 2 more CPUs. The license also need to be the same edition.
You could not, for example, purchase standard edition licenses to run on Datacenter.
Remember that Foundation and Essentials editions do not support more than 2 CPUs so if you
have a server that supports more than 2 CPUs you should purchase the Standard or Datacenter
edition. If you had a server that supported 6 CPUs
for example, this would mean that you would need to own 3 Windows Server 2012 licenses.
This may seem an unusually type of license agreement, but when you start considering
that computing is moving more towards cloud technology, it makes sense that licensing
would start working based on what the server can do rather than how many servers there
are. I will now look at how the licenses work for virtual server instances.
When you purchase a Windows Server 2012 license, you effectively have the right to install
Windows Server 2012 on a physical server. With the standard edition of Windows Server 2012,
you are also allow to install two virtual instances of Windows Server 2012. These 2 instances
must run on that physical server. You cannot use a virtual license from one server on another
server. This may sound like you can run 3 separate
installs of Windows Server 2012 on the same server that you can do what you like with,
however this is not the case. Once all the virtual licenses are in use, the physical
server can only be used for management of the virtual machines running on that server.
In this example, if there are two running instances of Windows Server 2012 running on
the physical server, the physical server is only there to run the virtual server. You
could not for example, install additional roles on the server or use it as a file server
if all the virtual licenses were in use. Since the physical server is only there to
run the 2 virtual servers, Microsoft allows any virtualization solution to be used. You
do not have to use Hyper-V for example to run the virtual instances; you could run another
solution like VMWare to run the virtual server instances.
If you wish to run additional virtual instances on the same physical computer, you can purchase
an additional Windows Server 2012 license. This will allow you to run two more virtual
server instances. So this means that you can run as many virtual server instances on that
physical server that it can support and that you are prepared to purchase licenses for.
In some cases you may want to move virtual server instances between physical servers.
For example, for performance reasons or to take the physical server down for maintenance.
If you consider the following example. There are 3 physical servers. All physical servers
have 2 licenses and thus can run 4 virtual instances. A decision is made to take the
first server down for extended maintenance and thus the virtual server instances must
be move to other servers. Since the second server has 2 licenses and
only 2 virtual instances running, 2 of the virtual server instances can be moved to this
server from the first server. No more virtual instances can be moved because there are not
enough licenses available. In order to move the last 2 remaining virtual
instances, a new license needs to be purchased which, in this example, I will add to the
3rd server. The additional license will allow the 3rd server to run 2 additional virtual
instances. This means that last two virtual instances can be moved from the first server
to the 3rd server. Now you may be thinking, since the virtual
machines are just being moved while the server is down for maintenance, could the license
just be moved as well? Microsoft only allows the license to be transferred from server
to server after 90 days have expired. So if the license was moved to the 3rd server rather
than purchasing a new license, 90 days would need to expire before the license could be
moved back to the first server. There are some exceptions to this, for example, if the
server was to have a major hardware failure and would never to be brought back online
again. In the case of massive hardware failure like this the license could be moved straight
away. Well that covers it for Windows Server 2012
licenses. I hope you have found this video informative.
For more free videos please consider subscribing or visit our web site.
Thanks for watching and see you next time.


  • Mark

    So if i understand this right: i buy a ESXi box that has 2 CPU's and i buy windows server 2010 standard on that ESXi box i can install Server 2012 twice? and when i go to activate it do i use the same product key ?

    -love the video's BTW

  • mlaiuk

    Microsoft has you by the Balls now! Great video and thank you for your time and prep in to this and sharing with us all, on the internet (free video).

  • Shemp1981

    What is involved in "Transferring the license"? Is there anything you must physically do (or facilitate with Microsoft) to transfer the license or is this simply a bookkeeping issue you need to track to stay within the terms of the license agreement?

  • Shemp1981

    What is involved in "Transferring the license"? Is there anything you must physically do (or facilitate with Microsoft) to transfer the license or is this simply a bookkeeping issue you need to track to stay within the terms of the license agreement?

  • itfreetraining

    I assume to are referring to transferring a license from server to server. At this stage it is a book keeping issue. It is up to the administrator to keep track of which licenses are used where and to make sure that they are compliant.

  • itfreetraining

    Glad to hear that you like the video. You are correct, you can run two virtual Windows Server 2012 standard editions on ESXi using the same license. When you activate them use the same key. Microsoft will allow two activations with the same key. If it refuses to activate, you will need to contact Microsoft.

  • itfreetraining

    My understanding is you cannot add any additional roles to the physical server and it should only be used to run the virtual machines. However, in a case like that I think Microsoft would make an exception. I would suggest calling them and asking the question to make sure. I could not see why they would not allow it.

  • techtipsfromwill

    Excellent video. Very well explained and put together.

    I always enjoy watching your videos. Keep up the great work!

  • Crush3r15NL

    If you have a physical 2012 R1 server running hyper-v with 2 VM's.
    Can you buy a 2012 R2 license in order to run 2 2012 R2 VM's on that same server?

  • Shaquile Mubariz

    Great video's ITFreetraining. A quick question re: 2nd Windows 2012 r2 licnese. Is that just a paper license or you have to install it on the host server to host more VM's?

  • Raphael Schärli

    Would That meanifihada server with 4Cpus running WMware Esxi i must have 2 windows server standart 2012 licens and can then run 4 licends windows server?

  • Danny "Clownie" Bonneau

    +itfreetraining I'm currently running Windows Server 2012 R2 on a home server, but that computer is dying. If I build a new home server, am I able to use my existing copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 on it? Is there a process for "uninstalling" my CD key to allow it's use on a new system? or do I need to buy a new physical license? Having to purchase a new one would really stink.

  • Jasmin Kahriman

    Great videos.

    Did I understand corectlly. If I install Windows Essentials 2012 R2 with licence, I can create one VM, and I need to buy licences for VMs. Licence from physical server is only for phsyical server?
    Thank you

  • Bob Dole

    6:55 so to solve the age old argument, you MUST have superfluous or even duplicate licensing in order to entertain the idea of vMotion. Correct?

  • Mohammed Noorulla

    @ 5:54 – I have a question, On standard edition if both Virtual instances are utilised and another license is purchased to run 1 more virtual instance, now only 3 Virtual instance are running, since 1 more virtual instances is vacant, can physical server be now be used for file share and to install additional roles ?

  • Ed Alejandro

    Thank you so much for these free videos, some of us can't afford buying books and other stuff. So Thank you for taking the time to do this! will you upload more videos on 70-410?

  • Jacques Laroche

    Great videos! I think I understand, but the implications are a bit insane.

    So, my question is:
    Does this mean if I had a physical machine with Server 2012 R2 with proper licensing and then I installed, say, the free Open Source Virtualbox and then ran an instance of Ubuntu as a VM I would have to pay Microsoft for another license???

  • colby wilksch

    hello from the future
    i have win server 12 r2 Data center does this mean i can install the virtual servers then same licence that i used on the physical server and use that to activate the virtual servers ?

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