Windows Server 2016 is the cloud-ready operating system that
supports customer workloads while introducing new technologies
that make it easy for customers to transition to cloud computing
when they are ready. Windows Server 2016 delivers powerful new
layers of security along with Azure-inspired innovation for the
applications and infrastructure that power business.
Customers can choose from three primary editions of Windows
Server, based on the size of the organization as well as virtualization
and datacenter requirements:
• Datacenter Edition is ideal for highly virtualized and software-
defined datacenter environments.
• Standard Edition is ideal for customers with low density or
• Essentials Edition is a cloud-connected first server, ideal for
small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. Essentials
is a good option for customers currently using the Foundation
Edition, which is not available with Windows Server 2016.
Windows Server 2016 customers benefit from a variety of new
features. New features in Standard Edition include Nano Server
and unlimited Windows Server containers; customers also receive
rights to two Operating System Environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V
containers. New features exclusive to Datacenter Edition include
Shielded Virtual Machines, software-defined networking, Storage
Spaces Direct, and Storage Replica; customers receive rights to
unlimited OSEs or Hyper-V containers and unlimited Windows
of Windows Server
Spaces Direct and
* Software Assurance is required to install and use Nano Server.
customer prices may vary.
The business model for Standard and Datacenter editions transitioned from
processor-based to core-based licensing in October 2016 with the general
availability of Windows Server 2016 (all other editions of Windows Server 2016
continue to be on the processor-based licensing model). Core-based licensing
provides a more consistent licensing metric across environments, enabling multi-
cloud environments, improving workload portability for Windows Server through
benefits like Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB), and helping remove friction across
different licensing models.
Customers with Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing at their
first renewal after the general availability of Windows Server 2016, although they
can deploy Windows Server 2016 at any time.
The Windows Server 2016 licensing model includes both Cores + Client Access
Licenses (CALs). Each user and/or device accessing a licensed Windows Server
Standard, Datacenter, or Multipoint edition requires a Windows Server CAL or
Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services CAL. A Windows Server CAL gives
a user or device the right to access any edition of Windows Server of the same
or earlier version. Each Window Server CAL allows access to multiple licenses of
Windows Server CAL
No CAL required
* All physical cores on the server must be licensed, subject to a minimum of 8 core licenses per physical
** CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the
Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter: Core-based licensing
Core-based licensing requires all physical cores in the server to be licensed.
Servers are licensed based on the number of processor cores in the physical server.
• A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor and a
minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server.
• Core licenses are sold in packs of two.
• Standard Edition provides rights for up to 2 Operating System Environments
For each additional 1 or 2 VMs, all the physical cores in the server must be
• The price of a set of 16 core licenses (for a 2-processor server) for Windows
Server 2016 Datacenter and Standard editions is the same price
With the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit,
customers with Software Assurance
can benefit from special pricing for
new Windows Server virtual machines
in Azure. Customers pay only for the
base compute rate, which is currently
the same as the Linux rate for virtual
machines. For complete details, visit
* 8 two-core packs will be the minimum required to license each physical server. The two-core pack for
2012 R2 editions.
** Rounding may result in slight variations in the final price of eight 2-pack core SKUs relative to the price
of one Windows Server 2012 R2 processor SKU.
Additional licensing required
* Standard Edition may need additional licensing.
Moving to core-based licensing
Customers purchasing net new licenses, for example, through MPSA or from
an OEM, will purchase licenses under the core-based model.
Existing customers with Software Assurance will transition from processor-based
to core-based licensing at the first renewal after the general availability of
Windows Server 2016.
• Renewal before the general availability of Windows Server 2016:
Customers with Software Assurance will be on processor-based licensing
and true-ups will also be processor-based.
• Renewal after the general availability of Windows Server 2016:
Customers with Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing
and true-ups will also be core-based.
Core license grants overview
Customers with servers under Software Assurance will receive core license grants
at the expiration of Software Assurance coverage. Depending on the core density
of existing servers, there are two categories of core license grants: Full core
licenses and additional core licenses.
1. Full core license grants: Customers with a server density of 8 or fewer cores
per processor and 16 or fewer cores per server are eligible to receive full core
license grants. Customers will receive a minimum of 8 cores per processor
and 16 cores per server at the expiration of Software Assurance coverage
after the general availability of Windows Server 2016. To receive full core
license grants, customers do not need to document their environments.
2. Additional core license grants: Customers with a server density of more
than 8 cores per processor and 16 cores per server are eligible to receive
additional core license grants and pay only Software Assurance on the
incremental cores. To receive additional core license grants, customers must
maintain a record of the physical hardware and the configuration of the
licensed server by using the Microsoft Software Inventory Logging tool
(SIL) or any equivalent software. Inventory must be maintained at the first
expiration of the Software Assurance coverage after the general availability
of Windows Server 2016 or before September 30, 2019.
Note: Customers are not required to share inventory with Microsoft, but may be asked to share
inventory if required.
Windows Server 2016 Licensing
per processor and ≤16
cores per server.
A minimum of 8 cores
per processor and 16
cores per server for the
corresponding edition of
Windows Server 2016.
Customer is not required
to establish or maintain
documentation of their
No price impact:
Windows Server 2016 on
servers with ≤ 8 cores
per processor and ≤ 16
cores per server pay
approximately the same
as they did for
a 2-processor Windows
Server 2012 R2 license.
Servers with >8 cores
>16 cores per server.
Grants for core licenses for
servers greater than 8 per
processor and 16 cores per
server and customer pays
Software Assurance on
Customer is required to
establish and maintain
Customer pays Software
Assurance on incremental
Announcing servicing guidelines for Windows Server 2016
With prior releases, Windows Server has been serviced and supported through a
5+5 model, with 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support.
This model—renamed Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)—will continue with
Windows Server 2016 for customers who choose to install full Windows Server
2016 with Desktop Experience or Server Core.
Customers choosing the Nano Server installation will opt into a more active
servicing model—known as Current Branch for Business (CBB)—similar to
the experience with Windows 10. This approach supports customers who are
moving at a cloud cadence of rapid development lifecycles and wish to innovate
more quickly. Since this servicing model continues to provide new features and
functionality, Software Assurance is also required to install and use Nano Server.
For more information about Windows Server 2016,
Copyright © 2017 Microsoft, Inc. All rights reserved. This datasheet is for informational purposes only. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information presented here.