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Microsoft to change Windows Server 2016 licensing rules, will use per-core metric

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 9, 2015
Revenue grab, says one licensing expert, but Microsoft argues it will make hybrid cloud/on-premises deployment easier to calculate.

Even tallying the physical cores to calculate licensing isn't as easy as it sounds, DeGroot added. (Customers will be responsible for coming up with a count of in-use physical cores when they upgrade under their Software Assurance (SA) agreements.)

"Many inventory tools, including Microsoft's, can discover how many processors a computer has, but they often fail to count cores properly," DeGroot alleged. In one example related to SQL Server, a client's reseller tallied just 32 cores, but DeGroot determined the correct number was 80. "Had they taken the reseller's advice, a future audit would have discovered that they were actually running SQL Server on 80 cores, not 32 cores, and they thus owed Microsoft about $270,000 for the missing core licenses," he said.

And by raising prices -- if that is, in fact, what happens to a significant number of customers -- Microsoft risks cutting off its nose to spite its face.

"Microsoft needs to be careful here because tactics like this are already starting to push SQL Server costs into Oracle territory," said DeGroot, again using the example of the per-core-licensing of SQL Server 2012. "In addition, Microsoft is increasing the gap between free open-source products and its own, and if that gap gets large enough, more customers will move."

There are open-source alternatives to Windows Server, just as there are to SQL Server.

Both DeGroot's Pica and Miller's Directions host Microsoft licensing workshops on a regular basis. The next Directions licensing boot camp is slated for Jan. 18-19 in Orlando, Fla. Information about Pica's workshops can be found on the firm's website.

Windows Server 2016 licensing changes 
Microsoft says that most users won't pay more for Windows Server 2016 under the new rules than they did for Windows Server 2012 R2 under the old. Credit: Microsoft


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