Microsoft has always licensed Windows Server on a per-socket basis, but with the 2016 release this is due to change. When Windows Server 2016 launches in the second half of next year, things are being shaken up. As well as the two versions -- Standard and Datacenter -- including different features, there is also a move to per-core licensing.
In a couple of PDF datasheets, Microsoft reveals not only the change in licensing, but also that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 Standard and Datacenter Editions are scheduled for release in Q3 of 2016. The licensing change is unlikely to be welcomed by many, as it complicates a system that had become familiar -- and could also push up pricing.
The plan is to sell Windows Server 2016 in two-license packs, and each processor has a minimum 8-core requirement. To complicate things further, physical servers have different requirements -- a minimum of 16 cores. It's not just licensing that changes, though. While the 2012 editions of the software differed only in the number of virtual machine supported by Standard and Datacenter (two and unlimited respectively), next year, Datacenter features a new network stack with more virtualization options, shielded VMs, and extra storage replication options. These are absent from the Standard edition.
However, as well as forcing companies to make an important choice between the two variants, some organizations could be hit in the pocket. In its System Center 2016 Standard and Datacenter Editions Licensing Datasheet, Microsoft says:
8 two-core packs will be the minimum required to license each physical server under management. The two-core pack for each edition is 1/8th the price of 16 cores for the 2016 editions.