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Microsoft has recently published more information about the Windows Server 2012 editions (and also the possible pricing). More information are also available on:

Editions Overview

Edition Ideal for… High Level Feature
Licensing Model Pricing
Open NL (US$)
Datacenter Highly virtualized
private & hybrid
cloud environments
Full Windows
Server functionality
with unlimited
virtual instances
Processor + CAL* $4,809**
Standard Low density or non-
Full Windows
Server functionality
with two virtual
Processor + CAL* $882**
Essentials Small business
Simpler interface,
connectivity to
cloud based services; no
virtualization rights
Server (25 User
Account Limit)
Foundation Economical general
purpose server
General purpose
server functionality
with no
virtualization rights
Server (15 User
Account Limit)
OEM Only

*CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server directly or indirectly. See the Product Use Rights for details.
**Pricing represents Open No Level (NL) ERP. For your specific pricing, contact your Microsoft reseller.


How does it changed for virtualization? As you can see the Enterprise edition is no more available (according to the FAQ: Enterprise edition will be retired as part of the Windows Server 2012 release) so the right solutions become the Datacenter edition. This is already usual today for medium and large environment, but for some small environment the Enterprise edition was a possible choice to reduce the cost. Standard now provide 2 instance for virtualization (but are not the 4 of the Enterprise).

Another interesting point the the difference between Standard and Datacenter: according with the official FAQ, both Standard and Datacenter editions provide the same set of features; the only thing that differentiates the editions is the number of Virtual Machines (VMs). This will mean that also the standard is now able to implement a Failover Cluster? According with the FAQ the answer is yes: including high availability features like failover clustering!

Price seems higher, but note that now are all for process: also the Standard edition is licenced at processor (and not at server). But now each license covers up to two physical processors, so to determine the number of licenses needed to fully license a physical server, simply count the number of physical processors in the server, divide that number by two and that tells you the number of licenses that will be needed.

Is also possible notice that other editions are gone:

  • Web Edition: The Web Server product was designed primarily for end customers and service providers that wanted to host web sites. However, consistent feedback from these customers and partners has been that they prefer to use an edition of Windows Server that does not restrict usage to running web workloads.
  • HPC Edition: While the HPC edition is being retired, Microsoft will be delivering the HPC Pack 2012 as a free download that can be used with any Windows Server 2012 Standard or Datacenter license. As a result, customers who want to run HPC workloads will be able to do so on any of their Windows Server 2012 licensed servers.
  • Windows Small Business: the 2011 will be the latest edition. Customer may migrate to the cloud services (like Office 365).