Product overview



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Product overview

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. 

Editions overview

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 

non-virtualized environments.

• 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 features 

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 

Server containers. 

 

Licensing



 Windows Server 2016

Feature

Datacenter 

Edition

Standard 

Edition

Core functionality 

of Windows Server



Operating System 

Environments 

(OSEs/Hyper-V 

containers)

Unlimited

2

Windows Server 



containers

Unlimited

Unlimited

Host Guardian 

Service





Nano Server

*



Storage features 

including Storage 

Spaces Direct and 

Storage Replica

Shielded Virtual 



Machines

Networking stack



Price


**

$6,155


$882

*

* Software Assurance is required to install and use Nano Server.



** Pricing for Open (NL) ERP license for 16 core licenses. Actual 

customer prices may vary.




Windows Server 2016 licensing model

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. 

Edition

Licensing model 

CAL requirements

Datacenter

Core-based*

Windows Server CAL

**

 

Standard



Core-based*

Windows Server CAL

**

Essentials



Specialty server

No CAL required 

*

* All physical cores on the server must be licensed, subject to a minimum of 8 core licenses per physical 



processor and a minimum of 16 core licenses per server.

** CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the 

Product Terms

 for details. 

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 



or Hyper-V containers when all physical cores in the server are licensed. 

For each additional 1 or 2 VMs, all the physical cores in the server must be 

licensed again.   

• 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

**

 as the 



2-processor license of the corresponding edition of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server 2016 Licensing

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit 

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 

www.azure.com/ahub

.

*

* 8 two-core packs will be the minimum required to license each physical server. The two-core pack for 



each edition is 1/8th the price of a license for a 2-processor server for corresponding Windows Server 

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.




Physical cores per processor

2

4



6

8

10



1

8

8



8

8

8



2

8

8



8

8

10



4*

16

16



16

16

20



Licensing costs are same as Windows Server 2012 R2

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

Pr

ocessor



per ser

ver



Core grants 

Eligibility  

What customers receive

Documentation

Price impact

Full core 

license 

grants


Servers with ≤8 cores 

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 

server environment.

No price impact: 

Customer licensing 

Windows Server 2016 on 

servers with ≤ 8 cores 

per processor and ≤ 16 

cores per server pay 

approximately the same 

amount


*

 as they did for 

a 2-processor Windows 

Server 2012 R2 license. 

Additional 

core license 

grants

Servers with >8 cores 



per processor and 

>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 

incremental cores.

Customer is required to 

establish and maintain 

documentation of their 

server environment.

Price impact: 

Customer pays Software 

Assurance on incremental 

cores.


*  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. 

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, 

visit 

www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2016



Windows Server 2016 Licensing

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.





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