With the release of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft is now licensing servers in a processor-based licensing model. Each license covers up to two physical processors on a single server, and the minimum number of licenses required for each server is determined by the number of physical processors. For Standard edition you can add more virtual instances by assigning additional licenses to the server (two incremental virtual instances are added per license). Windows Server 2012 licenses cannot be split across multiple servers, and Datacenter and Standard licenses cannot be mixed on the same server.

Retired Editions of Windows Server

Transitioning to the New Licensing Model

Client Access License

Licensing Grant

Additive Client Access Licenses

Windows Server Datacenter Step Up Promotion


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Client Access License (CAL)

You must have a Windows Server 2012 CAL to access an instance of Windows Server 2012. Windows Server Standard and Datacenter editions will continue to require Windows Server CALs for every user or device accessing a server. (See the Product Use Rights for exceptions and the Multiplexing - Client Access License (CAL) Requirements white paper for indirect-access licensing information.)

Additive CALs: These are CALs that you need in addition to the Windows Server CAL to access functionality, such as Remote Desktop Services or Active Directory Rights Management Services. To learn more about these CALs, see the Base and Additive Client Access License white paper.


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Transitioning to the new licensing model:

If you have Software Assurance coverage on your current Windows Server licenses at the time of the Windows Server 2012 General Availability (September 2012), you will receive the following transitional license grants to Windows Server 2012.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter

2 : 1

Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

1 : 1

Windows Server 2012 Standard

Retired Editions

Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

1 : 2

Windows Server 2012 Standard

Windows Web Server 2008 R2

2 : 1

Windows Server 2012 Standard

Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 Suite *

1 : 1

Windows Server 2012 Standard


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Licensing Grant

In order to maintain full license coverage during the transition to Windows Server 2012, if you have server based licenses with Software Assurance you may be eligible for incremental license grants.  You can qualify for additional licenses by documenting your environment to show where you have Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard edition or Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC editions running on 4-processor servers and/or Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise edition running on an 8-processor server. You will then be entitled to the additional licenses needed to cover these processors.

In order to qualify, prior to renewing your agreement, conduct a self- inventory documenting any 8-processor servers running Windows Server Enterprise edition, and any 4- processor servers running either Windows Server Standard edition or Windows Server HPC edition.  This self-inventory should be conducted using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit or another inventory tool to accurately archive a time/date-stamped inventory of hardware tied to Windows Server installations.  This documentation will serve as proof of license for any incremental license grants beyond the normal transition grant.

If you forego the self-inventory, you will receive licenses for the entitled edition based on the normal Windows Server 2012 transition model.

Download the Windows Server 2012 datasheet.

Click here for more information, and contact your SHI Account Executive today!