back to article Licensing rejig and standard price rises set for Windows Server 2016

Microsoft stands accused of forcing customers to migrate to cloud services by introducing new licensing terms and raising prices for hosted Windows Server 2016, which could see monthly costs more than doubling. When Microsoft launched WS16 last autumn, it shifted from licensing per CPU to licensing per core for the Standard …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    This was inevitable

    but... sad.

    So MS screws over those who for various reasons (physical, legal or other) can't or won't move to Azure.

    Don't be surprised MS that now SQL Server is available for a non MS OS that you see some companies move their OS of choice away from Windows Server. That will be just a prelude to moving away from SQL Server.

    I thought we'd gotten past those footgun moments that Balmer was so fond of but it appears that SatNad is following suit.

    And just after your results showed increased profits.

    MS has obviously been taking lessons from Oracle.

    Vendors whoose product run on Linux as well as Windows will no doubt be looking forward to increased Linux revenues.

    Fail Icon as there is no Footgun one.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "This was inevitable" - but it also looks stupid

      Alienating users from your main products when valid alternatives are available looks very stupid. Windows Server already suffered a lot from Linux competition - having none of the advantages of the desktop version. Telling the customers "Move to Azure or else" may make many decide to jump to Linux instead - if you're a full stack MS shop you may find it difficult - but if you're already running non-MS products on Windows you can move far easily.

      In turn it will also decrease the number of Windows developers - MS may believe the dominance of Visual Studio is a victory, but it also means a lot of Windows developers just moved to tools and systems outside Windows.

      Sure, Nadella will see an increase in Azure revenues in the short term as those without an alternative will move, but later there's a big chance they will start to move to systems which offer a broader support so running workloads locally or remotely will be a company decision, not a Nadella one.

      1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

        Re: "This was inevitable" - but it also looks stupid

        Oh definitely a stupid idea, but it is part of Microsoft's MO. They're not changing with the times, Nadella seems to be a really conservative guy and I think he'll likely lead Microsoft into the ground.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "This was inevitable" - but it also looks stupid

          Nadella may be conservative (especially when he speaks about women and salaries), but is also obsessed with very few ideas, Azure being one (the other looks to be the data slurping)

          IMHO a sensible strategy for MS would be to allow for both local and remote applications without huge price differences, with a strong integration between the two models, so companies can decide where to put their workloads considering their data sensitivity, availability, legal and costs reasons. One model doesn't fit all. Before Nadella, MS understood better different customers needs (because it meant more money, sure) , now it looks to have switched into a "cattle model" only.

          Probably MS believe that companies with strong reasons to keep data local are also those with more money (which could be a truly flawed assumption), so they will accept to pay more for the privilege of keeping their own precious data under their full control. But the company with more money are also those that have the resources to move to other options if they see it's cost effective.

          I would be also very careful about going to kill all those ISVs and the developers pool creating specific applications designed to be run on-premises - for several reasons-, and force them to choose other solutions (if they didn't already). You can't really believe to run everything from the cloud, at least for several years yet. The world is not made only by some ERP, customers database, and shopping applications.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: This was inevitable

      "Fail Icon as there is no Footgun one."

      laughing so hard, now, can't... hardly... type...

  2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Who could have seen this coming?

    Except, you know, for most of us. Microsoft isn't trustworthy, and likely never will be.

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Who could have seen this coming?

      I have been saying for 20 years that I will never understand why when MS says "Adopt the position" people just remove their trousers, remove their underwear and bend.

      MS can get away with murder, the world's reaction will be to breed more children so MS can murder them.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Who could have seen this coming?

      Some have proposed that Microshaft is basically pissing EVERYONE off, and after the fallout, their "loyal" mooks and minions will be ready for a subscription model, and will ensure a revenue stream in perpetuity, while the rest of us move elsewhere [whatever platform that may be].

      The shakeout continues...

  3. James 51

    If it is going to cost that much, particularly with redesigns, why not move to something else entirely?

    1. Whitter

      Long term cost projections

      What percentage is reasonable to put into the "once we're in they'll screw us" column of the cost projection spreadsheet?

  4. Naselus


    "Licenses will now be per core, rather than per processor. Every physical core must be licensed, and you must have at least 8 cores per processor and at least 16 cores per server. Core licenses are sold in packs of two, and you must have at least two eight-core packs to license a server".

    So... they're sold in packs of two, but two packs cover eight cores each. Licenses are being sold per core, except their not sold per core because you need at least eight cores and two processors, and you can't buy them individually so their actually being sold in pairs of cores, unless they're being sold in an eight-pack.

    May as well be "SQL server can now only be licensed to companies with an R in their name, except if they're based in Swaziland where P and L are accepted, providing the company founding pre-dates the Treaty of Westphalia's third centenary. If the CEO has been changed in the last six years and the number of certified engineers on site is a multiple of four, then the license price is reduced by the square root of the total number of customers served in April of the last financial year, denominated in yen. Licenses last either two or three years, determined through mud wrestling competition on the day of purchase."

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Incomprehensible

      Or, they are being sold in packs of two in the same way that shoes are sold in a box of two.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. ChrisElvidge

        Re: Incomprehensible

        I get my shoes as BOGOF

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incomprehensible

      At least counting cores and processors is fairly straightforward. Now if someone can explain how CALs work...

      1. Tomato42

        Re: Incomprehensible

        > Now if someone can explain how CALs work...

        oh! that's simple! every human that can log on to a service backed by Windows requires CAL

        that includes situations in which you have a punter buying widget on your website and SQL Server is used to store the order details

        icon because I wish I was joking

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "every human that can log on to a service backed by Windows requires CAL"

          Are you sure it needs to be human? There are also "device CALs"...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Incomprehensible

          > every human that can log on to a service backed by Windows requires CAL

          Not just humans. For example, a printer needs its own CAL when plugged into a network which has a Windows Server on it. That's unless you can prove that *every* human who uses the printer (directly or indirectly) has their own CAL.

          Because this is clearly ludicrous and/or impossibly expensive in various scenarios, there are Device CALs, Terminal Services CALs, External Connector Licences (but the external users must be off-site), etc etc.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "When Microsoft launched WS16 last autumn, it shifted from licensing per CPU to licensing per core for the Standard and Datacenter editions. All physical cores on the server must be licensed,"

    Did that mean that you couldn't run Windows Server Standard on a Virtual Host?

    Whereas in the past for small deployments you could licence the VMs individually with a Standard licence, it seems to suggests that doing that now would require you to licence the whole physical server multiple times (once for each VM). This is what Datacentre edition was for - to licence the whole physical server.

    1. John Sanders


      Stop with your complete commonsensical questions, what you are asking are reasonable doubts and clarifications.

      How dare you!

      Just pay dammit! pay to use your computer, pay to access it remotely, pay to access your own data, pay for security, pay pay pay pay pay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yes, you would need to license the physical host (like you always did). Standard comes with 2 VM licenses for the host you licensed, you need a license for every host those 2 VMs would run on, licenses are for physical servers not VMs, never has been.

      Standard before was a license for the whole host, 1 license covered you, now you need to pay for however many cores you have on the hosts those VMs will be running on.

      1. Danny 14

        the article doesnt say thay you can buy core top up packs. you dont need to buy full fat server licences to top up more than 16 cores. the core packs are cheaper than full licences (that core with 8 cores each)

      2. Nate Amsden

        Windows VMs on non Windows hypervisors

        How about for VMs running in VMware ?

        Windows makes up a tiny part of the 1200 or so VMs I have, but I do have about maybe a dozen or two Windows 2008/R2/2012R2 Standard servers (each individually licensed today).

        I know the changes don't affect the older versions of Windows, but if I have 48 physical cores on the VMware host, and I want say 2 x 2vCPU VMs on that host (with the rest of the VMs being linux), what is the license? Is it like Oracle DB processor licensing where I have to license the 48 cores on the VM host even though I'm only using 2 x 2 CPUs ? And/or am I having to license 8 CPUs even though I'm only going to allocate 2 CPUs to the VM?

        The biggest Windows VMs I have are 4 CPUs, most are 2 CPU, with a couple 1 CPU and a couple 3 CPU.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows VMs on non Windows hypervisors

          yes, you license the physical machines that the VMs will run on like it has always been, just now you need to count the cores. So if you have 10 esxi hosts, with 48 cores on each, to run 2 VMs across those 10 hosts you would need 480 core licenses. Licenses are for a physical system, they can be moved only once every 90 days (if you have a VL agreement).

          So to cut costs (when only a few windows VMs), you limit the number of hosts the VMs can run on and only in 'DR' cases can they go on to other hosts, where the licenses then are moved too.

    3. vogie563

      You can run VM's on 2016 Standard but you need to do the math for when you need to move Data Center based on cost.

      When you license all the cores on a 2016 Host with Standard, you cover the base OS install and 2 VM's. So when you add another VM or two you have to license all the core's again with Standard. You keep repeating this for every 2 VM's. So a 16 core hosts with 4 VM's needs 32 cores of licenses, 6 VM's need 48 cores. Once you do the delta of the cost between Standard to Data Center cores you can see where you break even and when it makes more sense to move to Data Center. This was a play to drive you right to Data Center even for a few VM's.

      Where I work we license Data Center since we are Windows heavy and average 30/40 VM's on a host, it's "cheaper" to run Data Center in this model.

      We were not happy about this "core tax" .. I guess socket costs staying stale for a while and core counts helping servers being able to run 30,40,60 VM's per host. MS saw this as lost revenue and say $$$ signs.

  6. HmmmYes

    And so it continues.

    I warned people when MS were luring people into their 'ecosystem' with low, everyday prices ...

    Look, I said, just decide what you need to run your server and base your decision on that.

    My statement was more to avoid picking up loads of 'helpful' MS software that gave that special 'enhanced' MS experience - license daemon forgetting its licensed on a server locked away in a room in Fucknowherestan, security holes you could drive a column of the Red Army through.

    Oh no. We dont want to be sued for using Linux.

    Fast forward 15 years and that ~200 base cost is not 2,000.


  7. Tim99 Silver badge
    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Alternatively

      PG is pretty good. heh. that wasn't a joke, but the initials work.

      Seriously, though, why is *ANYONE* even considering putting up with this Micro-shaft licensing bullcrap?

      If you want service and support, get a commercial Linux and some kind of support contract for everything else. Ernie Ball (the company) saved huge bucks doing that back when it wasn't popular, after being audited by Micro-shaft [in another example of treating their customers like mooks and minions] with a "surprise software audit" and fines to go along with it.

      Story here:

  8. Spud

    Next they'll be asking for payment in Bitcoin.

    1. handleoclast

      Re: Bitcoin


      I see what you did there. :)

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    all I can say

    Gotta love Volume Licensing...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft has pushed SQL Server costs so high for SPLA users that I don't know of anybody using it for anything other than legacy products. Why would you when you can use a perfectly good enterprise product like PostgreSQL at near zero cost ?

    Same is happening to Windows Server and I don't think it's part of a push to Azure - have you seen what Azure costs for heavy workloads ? It's certainly not a cheap alternative.

    I think Microsoft are seeing their license revenue decline and are trying to jack the prices up to fill the void. The best option would be to reduce the cost - we would use more of it if it was cheaper but Microsoft don't see the World like that.

    1. vogie563

      Definitely a revenue move. If you can run 30/40/50 VM's on a host in a per socket license model like in 2012 you license cost for VM is pretty low. More cores drives more consolidation in some workloads and they now want to cash in on your consolidation ratios as well as host count now.

    2. Danny 14

      we are/were 100% MS. But when the pricing news for 2016 first broke we decided to look elsewhere. Cloud is no use to us. This year we started transitioning away. First was the majority of non aspx web server. now we are migrating SQL.

      Next will be email and once email has gone then Office goes too. we anticipate a single MS webserver for aspx. So from 10 datacentre, sql and exchange to 4x 2016 (twin host) std licenses.

      full linux in 5 years desktop and backend. We wont be the only ones doing this.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        What are you moving your email to? I haven't found any feature equivalent replacements for Exchange.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          alternative email

          having gone down this road the one that I found that works is zimba - zentyal still has too many issues. We replaced exchange with Zimbra - added in the zxchat extra and so far we love it...everyone is using the web client - no desktop software, no outlook - reduced licensing costs - step away from Micro$oft....

    3. BaronMatrix

      Maybe they shouldn't have counted on phone share while they ruined the desktop experience... Desktop Core would have been the right path... Then you plug in Modern or Aero...

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "I think Microsoft are seeing their license revenue decline and are trying to jack the prices up to fill the void"

      you mean, acting like a government?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    But the cloud is good, right?

    So moving all your systems and data straight to Microsoft’s data centres has got to the right way forward. There’s no way, that once your there, that Microsoft will also jack up its cloud prices as well. On way at all.

    If you’re part of a business that runs core systems on Microsoft products, next year isn’t going to be much fun.

  12. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Help !

    Please help me understand this. ..

    I'm currently running server 2012 on two sites over 3 VMWare servers that have one physical processor, 8 cores and 32 GB Ram each. One instance of server 2012 on 2 x hypervisor and 2 on the other and licensed correctly / 3 server licenses and the CAL to cover all the users. They also run various other non MS OS, mail appliance, AV, remote access etc (slowly migrating to CentOS in the background).

    I could probably buy a nice new shiny AMD 32 core monster plus a backup one and hope for the best / consolidate to our main site but wouldn't I need 2 physical processors / overkill ? The backup would not be running anything unless the primary went down.

    Oh I get it. Too small to run in house, cloud etc etc. Not happening.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: Help !

      you currently have 3x physocal servers and i guess 3x datacentre licences.

      ws2016 will mean you will need 6x datacentre licenses (minimum 2x per server).

      Congratulations your costs have doubled.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Help !

        The minimum cost is the same. Datacenter was licensed per socket, minumum 2 sockets licensed. 'Now' (has been a while) the 2 base licenses covering the minimum core count cost the same as the 2 socket license. if you exceed the minimum core count ( not very hard to) then it costs more.

  13. Woenk

    Where is a calculation link ?

    If anybody got a reliable source for the licence calculation, I would highly appreciate it.

    We asked for some estimates and the licence distributors where really keen to sell us something like 1000 EUR per month for a 2 CPU /24 core machine for the datacenter edition (which sounded more like an Azure instance)

    We are not going to use it for virtualizing anything under Hyper-V, rather we are offering IaaS and hosting our clients servers under Vmware, which according to another licence distributor was illegal, because only we are allowed to have the admin credentials and not the client (which sounds even more like bull, because a clinet may decide to have his server hosted on our hardware without us being allowed access to the VMs administration).

    A link to any trustworthy licence distributor in Germany would also be appreciated ;D

  14. MAH

    rather we are offering IaaS and hosting our clients servers under Vmware, which according to another licence distributor was illegal, because only we are allowed to have the admin credentials and not the client (which sounds even more like bull, because a clinet may decide to have his server hosted on our hardware without us being allowed access to the VMs administration).

    basically you are trying to multi-tenant the hardware and use can't use regular VMware need to use vCloud licensing.

    As well, because mulrtiple clients VM's are running on the same hardware the clients cannot use their licenses unless they have SA agreement AND you have license mobility agreement, and Windows Server/Desktop is not covered under License mobility so you need to be an SPLA partner to license the operating systems....

    its all quite clear as mud you see....

  15. BaronMatrix

    So they're going to screw up Server too... WTF is going on in Redmond... I know the altitude makes you dizzy but this is ridiculous...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "WTF is going on in Redmond"

      for starters, they legalized Marijuana (and in Cali-fornicate-you too).

      Yeah, we all asked "what the hell are they smoking..."

  16. rmullen0

    Way to go Microsoft

    It is already hard enough being a .NET developer in my organization as it is. .NET is my preferred platform, but, everyone else is pretty much Apple or Linux. This will just make things worse. I guess it is lucky that .NET Core runs on Linux, but, at that point it is still something difficult to promote. People would rather just use something like Python. Microsoft is going to end up like another IBM.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    all your core are belong to us

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    .NET Migration

    It appears that Microsoft are also about to shoot themselves in the other foot. Their latest versions of Visual Studio can compile code to run on both Microsoft and Linux servers. We have already moved our back-end database stuff from Microsoft to Linux due to MS's exorbitant licensing fees. Our front end is served via Windows servers because that fit nicely with the tools we use (Visual Studio, .NET etc). However, with server licensing costs escalating their is now a good businesses case to migrate the code to Linux - and Microsoft has made that a possibility for us by allowing us to compile our code for Linux.

    Costs for non-cloud hosting are also starting to plummet as many people with simple hosting requirements shift their workloads to the cloud - and the traditional hosting centres cut their costs to fill the void.

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