Windows Server 2012 R2: Licensing Overview The licensing model in Windows Server 2012 R2 remains largely the same, but a few tweaks have been made.
Windows Server 2012 R2 licensing continues the change made with the 2012 version to a processor-based model. Each license can only be assigned to one physical server and covers up to two physical processors (they can’t be assigned to a virtual machine). This again makes it consistent with the model used in System Center 2012 R2.
Note: Essentials, Standard and Datacenter edition licenses cover two physical processors on one physical server, while Foundation licenses only cover one physical processor
Standards Vs Datacenter Edition Licenses
The biggest difference between Standard and Datacenter is still virtualization rights. As before, Standard edition allows up to two instances in a Virtual Operating System Environment (VOSE), while Datacenter allows unlimited VOSE instances.
Both Standard and Datacenter licenses also cover up to two physical processors. For help working out how many licenses you need to purchase to meet your needs, see our guide here.
As with Windows Server 2012, you’ll also need to purchase Client Access Licenses (CALs) or Device Access Licenses (DALs) for users or devices accessing the server.
Note: some advanced Standard and Datacenter features additionally require their own CALs. For example, if you want to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or Active Directory Rights Management Services (ADRMS), you’ll also need to buy RDS or ADRMS CALs.
Foundation and Essential Edition Licenses
With Foundation and Essentials licenses, the model is also largely the same. Both have a user limit (15 users for Foundation; 25 for Essentials) but there’s no need for additional CAL or DAL licenses. Foundation also only covers one processor, while Essentials covers up to two.
One big difference with the Essentials edition in R2 however, is that Microsoft has updated its licensing model to allow one VOSE instance, which was not previously possible in Windows Server 2012 Essentials (non-R2).
While this means Hyper-V role and Manager are included in R2 Essentials, virtualization options are still limited. You can only use the VOSE instance to run Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials in a virtual machine, as the instance in the Physical Operating System Environment can only be used to run the Hyper-V role while you do so.
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