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Windows Server 2012 Licensing Explained

Windows Server 2012 LogoThe more things change the more confused people seem to get. Here is a quick run down of what you need to know about Windows Server 2012 Licensing:

  1. 32 and 64 bit. Yes, there are both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows Server 2012, even though Windows 2008 R2 was only 64 bit.
  2. Standard and Datacenter. There is no Enterprise version of 2012 and there are two oddball versions of Essentials (limited to 2 processors and 25 users) and Foundation (limited to 1 processor and 15 users) that are not recommended for the limitations versus nominal difference in price.
    • Standard provides 2 free virtual instances. Others virtual instances may be added, but you must purchase Windows Server licenses for the additional instances.
    • Datacenter provides unlimited free virtual instances.
  3. Software Assurance. If you had SA on Windows Server 2008, you qualify for the following Windows 2012 versions:
    • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter upgrades to Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
    • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise upgrades to two each of Windows Server 2012 Standard
    • Windows Server 2008 Standard upgrades to Windows Server 2012 Standard
  4. Upgrades. You must upgrade previous 32 or 64 bit systems to the same 32 or 64 bit versions on Windows Server 2012 or backup data and format and reinstall with a new version. You can upgrade like versions or higher such as Windows Server 2008 Standard to Windows Server 2012 Standard or Windows Datacenter 2012, but you cannot install Windows Server 2012 Standard on Windows Server 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter.

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