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You Can Now License Windows Server on a Per-Virtual-Core Basis

Microsoft WindowsOne of the headaches in cloud environments is licensing for proprietary software, and no one is more of a headache on this point than Microsoft.

If you want to offer Windows as a provider, you need to sign up for Microsoft SPLA, which is byzantine.  Whenever your licensing program has to come with not only a guide, but a reference card for that guide, you know it’s too complicated.

Microsoft has also taken the path of incenting people who want to run Microsoft products to run them on Azure.  They do this by disallowing “bring your own licenses” on other clouds, or at least being vague and complicated about them.  If want to run on Azure, you’ve got your Azure Hybrid Benefit and it’s easy-peasy.  Want to run on another cloud?  Oh, it’s complicated…

Back in 2019 they started to make it hard to use other clouds, and now in 2022 they’ve released another new set of cloud licensing guidelines.  They’re the usual yadda-yadda about aligning benefits and strategic synergies, but there is one interesting tidbit about Windows Server:

We’re adding the option for customers with Software Assurance or subscription licenses to license Windows Server on a virtual core basis. Under this model, customers can buy licenses for only the virtual cores they need (subject to a per VM minimum), without being tied to a physical number of cores on the server. With the virtual core licensing option, customers can license Windows Server by the number of virtual cores they are using in virtual machines, making Windows Server easier to license when virtualizing or outsourcing.

That is a big change from previous rules, which only allowed you to license Windows Server on a physical core basis.

Do these new licensing rules affect you?  Do you benefit from them as a provider or customer?  Please let us know in the comments below!


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