Are you confused by just how virtual machine guest licensing works with Hyper-V 2012 and 2012 R2? I’ve been reading a lot of blog and forum posts, and it seems like this might be the most confusing subject in the world of Hyper-V right now. It doesn’t help that that a lot of people who really don’t understand it are doing their best to help others. The phrase, “When the blind lead the blind, they will both fall in a ditch,” comes to mind. Let’s clear away some of the confusion.

Disclaimer

Most of our posts are technical in nature. Licensing is a legal matter. I am not a lawyer and I did not consult with a lawyer on this post. The contents of this post are intended to be a guideline to help you understand the concepts of a specific licensing detail. It does not constitute legal advice or interpretation. Neither I nor Altaro software are offering legal advice and this post cannot be construed as such. We cannot be held responsible for any negative outcomes of the usage of any of the contents of our post, whether it is through an error on our part or a misunderstanding on yours. For official answers, contact Microsoft Licensing or check with your reseller. Authorized resellers should have someone on staff that can authoritatively answer licensing questions. I have consulted with two resellers extensively on this subject and have never been asked to pay anything for the call. There are very steep fines and bounties associated with licensing violations. It is worth your time to get official answers.

Probably the clearest material that Microsoft publishes on the subject is the Product Use Rights document.

OEM Licenses

This post will deal with Volume Licenses, which are an agreement you make with Microsoft with the assistance of a reseller. OEM licenses can be customized by an equipment manufacturer and therefore might have different rules than you find anywhere else. Do not assume that an OEM license works the same way as a standard volume license. Usually, the greatest difference is that they are not transferable.

The Unbreakable Rule for Windows Server Licensing

At least as far as Standard and Datacenter Editions are concerned, there is one absolutely inviolable rule about Windows Server licensing: a Windows Server license is always bound to a specific piece or group of hardware. The specifics have changed over time, but this fact goes back as far as I can remember. For 2012 and 2012 R2, the bound hardware is one or two physical CPUs in a single motherboard. A single CPU system requires one license. A dual CPU system requires one license. A quad CPU system requires two licenses. This is pretty easy to work out from here.

Virtual machines are not directly licensed. Yes, you have to plug in keys to activate them, but keys are not licenses, they do not represent licenses, and just because you can get a system to accept a key does not mean that it is properly licensed. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble by thinking that your virtual machines are licensed. Why? Because virtual machines can move, that’s why. Remember the unbreakable rule: the physical CPUs are what is licensed.

The nice thing about OEM licenses is that the manufacturer usually plops a sticker onto the chassis of the licensed system. That helps you remember where the license belongs. When you get a Volume License, you don’t get a sticker. That’s because Volume Licenses are transferable. But, as you’ll see, the transferability of a volume license isn’t a free-for-all. My recommendation is to find some way to clearly denote which physical hardware is getting which license.

The Hyper-V Server License

So, you’ve downloaded the free Hyper-V Server, and now people are telling you that you don’t have a license to run Windows Server guest and you need to install a different management operating system. What to do?

Well, the first thing to understand is that what you get with the free Hyper-V Server license is a license to run Hyper-V Server. That’s it. It can have up to 1,024 actively running virtual machines and I have no idea how many turned off virtual machines. Either way, it can probably run a lot more VMs than your hardware can handle. But, it doesn’t have a license for any of them, no matter what they are. So, do you actually need to install a different hypervisor? Of course not. You just need to make sure you buy enough licenses to cover the guests running on that host.

You always need to buy enough licenses to cover the guests running on a host. Seems pretty obvious when it’s stated like that, but it’s really not strange to find people who overthink and miss that.

The Windows Server Standard Edition License

It used to be that when you bought a Windows license, you got a piece of paper. Nowadays, you don’t even get that anymore. You get an e-mail that tells you where to go look at a digital copy of your Windows license. But, I can make you a graphic that helps you conceptualize what you get (and helps you understand why I didn’t choose graphical design as a career):

Windows Server Standard License with Guest Privileges

Windows Server Standard License with Guest Privileges

What’s in the “box” is a license for one physical instance of Windows Server 2012 Standard and two virtual instances of the same. The crude chains with the odd transparency are intended to show that these are permanently tied together. They can never be taken apart. Never, never, never.

We’ll come back to this.

The Windows Server Datacenter Edition License

The Datacenter Edition comes in a similar “package”, but this time you get unlimited guest instances. You can also downgrade to Standard edition in any of the instances, as shown in this image with slightly less odd transparency:

The Windows Server Datacenter Edition License

The Windows Server Datacenter Edition License

As with the Standard Edition, the physical and the virtual cannot be split from each other. Not at all. Don’t ask, don’t try.

What the Chains Mean

Remember the inviolable rule: the licenses are bound to specific hardware. All of them.

You can’t split guest privileges across hardware, whether in the same machine or across different machines. If you use one Datacenter license for a quad CPU machine, then you have a problem. Two of the CPUs are unlicensed. Since there’s no way to restrict the physical instance or the virtual instances, then you are out of compliance and in trouble. If you have one Datacenter edition license and two physical computers, you have a problem. I think it’s possible to have all the guests running on a single host in a pure failover environment, but I’d definitely want a true licensing expert to say if that’s legal. One thing is for certain, if you ever Live Migrate from one to the other and have more than one active guest, you’re out of compliance. The only way you might possibly be able to work the “pure failover” angle is if the only time guests ever moved was in response to a complete host failure. Even if it’s legal, it’s certainly dangerous.

If you’re struggling with the idea of the license belonging specifically to the hardware, try to remember that the guests aren’t actually licensed at all. Let’s say you buy a Standard license for physical host SV-HyperV1. You install Windows Server Standard on it. You then install a guest virtual machine with Windows Server Standard. There’s nothing wrong with that; everything is fine. Later, you build a new computer, SV-HyperV2, and Live Migrate the guest to it. You are now out of compliance. The virtual guest privilege stays with its hardware on SV-HyperV1. It does not follow the virtual machine, no matter where it goes. The destination system must have a ready and available license.

What the Chains Do Not Mean

The biggest point of confusion I see being circulated now is a myth that there is some magic genie that only comes to life when you install Windows Server as the physical instance, and this wonderful creature grants special licensing powers. This is absolutely not true. You can’t separate the physical instance from the virtual instances, but you are absolutely not required to use them all. You can buy one Standard Edition license, install Windows Server as the physical instance, and use only one Windows Server guest. You do not have to use the other virtual instance. But, you also can’t use it on another piece of hardware because of the inviolable rule.

Most importantly, you don’t have to install a copy of Windows Server in the physical instance to use its rights. You can most certainly buy a Datacenter license, install Hyper-V Server, and still take advantage of your unlimited guest privileges… provided that you don’t use that Datacenter license on any other hardware. You are never required to install the licensed physical operating system environment in order to take advantage of its guest virtualization rights.

In fact, you can install any hypervisor you want. The only rule is that you can’t split up the physical license and its guest privileges.

What About License Transfers?

You can transfer a license from one piece of hardware to another, but once it moves, it can’t move again for 90 days. Exceptions are made in the event of host failures. This 90-day clause is always true for Windows Server. Clusters do not change this rule. Other server products, like SQL Server, have their own rules about how they can move in virtual instances, and these are usually a lot more lenient.

Other Things to Think About

  • The licenses are stackable. You don’t have to choose between one Standard or one Datacenter if you want, say, three virtual machines on a 2-CPU system. You purchase enough Windows Server licenses to get the necessary number of guest privileges. In the case of needing three virtual machines, you can use two Standard licenses. This will leave you with one open slot for another virtual instance of Windows Server Standard edition.
  • Volume Licensing gives you downgrade and down-edition rights. If you have a Datacenter license, you can use Standard in its place. If you have Windows Server 2012 R2 licenses, you can use Windows Server 2008 R2. This is true for both the physical instance and any guest instances.
  • If you install any role, feature, or application in the management operating system that is not Hyper-V, related to Hyper-V, or needed to service Hyper-V or its virtual machines in some way (like backup software or hardware management utilities), then the management operating system needs a full license. So, if you have a Standard license and you’re running a general file server from the management operating system, you forfeit one of the two guest privileges. I’ve never seen an official explanation for this, but my assumption is that it’s to prevent you from getting a three-for-two license.
  • The rules don’t change for a cluster. Each host needs to have sufficient licenses to run the maximum number of virtual machines it can be realistically expected to ever run. So, if you have six guests in a two-node cluster, then you’re going to need three Standard licenses for each host, winding up at a total of six licenses. If you’re using Datacenter edition to cover unlimited guests for one host, then you need a separate Datacenter license for the other(s) as well.
  • Desktop operating systems (Windows 8, etc.) are never covered by guest licensing privileges. Licensing desktop operating systems in a virtual environment is tricky and you’re going to want help from an expert on that.
  • New in Windows Server 2012 R2 is Automatic Virtual Machine activation. This is a feature, and it only works when the Datacenter edition is installed as the management operating system. You still get the privileges even if you don’t install Datacenter, but the automatic licensing tool won’t be available.
  • For Hyper-V Replica, the replicas count as distinct virtual machines. That means you must have enough privileges for all the guests on the source host and, separately, enough licenses for all the guests on the replica host. Software assurance erases the need to provide separate licenses to cover the replicas.

More Questions

Ordinarily, we encourage questions. I’ll warn you now that we’re not going to be as open on this topic, because it’s too much like legal advice and we don’t want to get you or ourselves into trouble. The point of this post is to clear up the initial confusion a lot of people have on the subject, not to be the final, all-inclusive, indisputable word. If I haven’t explained it clearly enough, talk to a licensing expert. Run it through your legal department. Licensing is confusing and not worth making mistakes on. Get an expert on the phone, explain what you have and what you want to accomplish, and you’ll have a legitimate answer in very short order.

 

 

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210 thoughts on "Virtual Machine Guest Licensing and Hyper-V (2012 & 2012 R2)"

  • ashwin says:

    Very very helpful article. You always make reading simpler.

  • Andrew Kelly says:

    Great article. The licensing is indeed a little complicated. Here’s an example of my setup that may help others to visualise the licensing rules explained by Eric above.

    We have three hosts all running Hyper-V Server 2012. Two are configured in a failover cluster and the third is used for replication offsite. We don’t require any licenses for the hosts themselves with this hypervisor installed.

    The cluster contains 2 Windows Server VMs and 3 Linux VMs. For each host, we require a single Standard license because at any given time, depending on live migrations or failover, each host (or cluster node in this case) may be running both Windows Server VMs.

    The third host also requires a single Standard license as it contains a replicated offline copy of all 5 VMs from the cluster, which includes 2 Windows Server VMs.

    In total, this configuration requires 3 Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses to be in compliance. Interestingly, if we added just one additional Windows Server VM to our cluster and started replicating it to the offsite host, this would require another 3 Standard licenses as each host would need to be able to accommodate up to 3 Windows Server VMs at once.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for helpful information. Can you help me clear some points bellow ?
      1) In your configuration, assume that you activated 2 VM window on first node of cluster. After that failover to second node of cluster, does it automatic activate VMs or you have to manually active again? Because now hardware is change already.
      2) in case you don’t need manual insert serial key to VM when it moved, when serial license is inserted ?
      3) in your third host, you use as DR site. when hostage, DR site is up. VMs in DR site is on. do you need use the third license key of window server 2012 to active machine manually ?
      Thank you
      Best regards

  • Andrew Kelly says:

    Great article. The licensing is indeed a little complicated. Here’s an example of my setup that may help others to visualise the licensing rules explained by Eric above.

    We have three hosts all running Hyper-V Server 2012. Two are configured in a failover cluster and the third is used for replication offsite. We don’t require any licenses for the hosts themselves with this hypervisor installed.

    The cluster contains 2 Windows Server VMs and 3 Linux VMs. For each host, we require a single Standard license because at any given time, depending on live migrations or failover, each host (or cluster node in this case) may be running both Windows Server VMs.

    The third host also requires a single Standard license as it contains a replicated offline copy of all 5 VMs from the cluster, which includes 2 Windows Server VMs.

    In total, this configuration requires 3 Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses to be in compliance. Interestingly, if we added just one additional Windows Server VM to our cluster and started replicating it to the offsite host, this would require another 3 Standard licenses as each host would need to be able to accommodate up to 3 Windows Server VMs at once.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for helpful information. Can you help me clear some points bellow ?
      1) In your configuration, assume that you activated 2 VM window on first node of cluster. After that failover to second node of cluster, does it automatic activate VMs or you have to manually active again? Because now hardware is change already.
      2) in case you don’t need manual insert serial key to VM when it moved, when serial license is inserted ?
      3) in your third host, you use as DR site. when hostage, DR site is up. VMs in DR site is on. do you need use the third license key of window server 2012 to active machine manually ?
      Thank you
      Best regards

  • bruno says:

    Hi,

    Great article.

    I just wish you could clarify windows server licensing with vmware:
    with a w2k12 std license, am i still entitled to 2 vm w2k12 std running on a vmware esxi barebone?
    i mean the licensing entitles me to 2 server licenses no matter what hypervisor i use?

    thanks

  • bruno says:

    Hi,

    Great article.

    I just wish you could clarify windows server licensing with vmware:
    with a w2k12 std license, am i still entitled to 2 vm w2k12 std running on a vmware esxi barebone?
    i mean the licensing entitles me to 2 server licenses no matter what hypervisor i use?

    thanks

  • Stephen says:

    Can you clarifty the situation when running “older” operating systems as guests within Hyper-V Server 2012 R2? Server 2012 Standard allows me to run a maximum of TWO guests (providing I have the licenses for them). So, I could run Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Correct? What still isn’t clear to me (for example) is whether or not I can legally run those instances of Windows XP / Server 2003 as guests within Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 without purchasing any further licenses. Regards, Stephen

    • Eric Siron says:

      Hi Stephen,
      The wording of your comment crosses what you can do with what you’re licensed to do.
      Windows Server 2012 Standard allows you to run a maximum of 1,024 guests. That’s what you can do. A single license of Windows Server 2012 Standard includes licensing for two virtualized instances of Windows Server operating systems. That’s what you’re licensed to do.
      Windows XP is not covered by the Server’s virtual licensing allowance. It never has been, nor has any other Microsoft desktop operating system. In order to run Windows XP as a virtual machine on any hypervisor, you require an FPP license for Windows XP, or if you’ve already jumped through all the myriad hoops to get a volume license and the base license is transferable to this hardware, you could use that.
      Server 2003 R2 is currently covered as part of the existing Windows Server 2012 Standard downgrade license. I don’t know about 2003 R1, but I believe it’s covered as well.
      So, if you have a single Windows Server 2012 Standard license, you are definitely licensed to run a 2003 R2 instance, and probably a 2003 instance. You’ll need a separate license for Windows XP. That leaves you with one more Server OS virtualization privilege.

      • Nick says:

        Piggybacking off of this comment – say I want to run a 2012 R2 Hyper-V host with 3 VMs, all of which will be running 2008 R2. I have one 2012 R2 license for the host, but I also have an extra 2008 R2 license that is not being used. Can I use the extra 2008 R2 license for the third VM or do I need to purchase a second 2012 R2 license to be in compliance? I suspect the answer is I need a second 2012 R2 license but have read varying answers. Thanks!

        • Eric Siron says:

          As long as that 2008 R2 license isn’t otherwise hindered in some way, you can use it. Just remember that you are assigning that license to the host and not the guest, but you’ll be entering the license key into the guest.

  • Jitin Chugh says:

    Eric,

    Do we get 2 VM’s license with any Windows 2012 standard edition that we buy or is it a separate product that we need to order ?

    Actually, I am of the impression that there are two different products I.e
    1) Windows 2012 standard edition
    2) Windows 2012 standard edition with 2 VM’s license

    Pls help to clarify this ?

    • Eric Siron says:

      All volume and retail Standard Edition licenses come with 2 guest virtualization rights. OEM or other special licenses may have their own restrictions.

  • Jitin Chugh says:

    Eric,

    Do we get 2 VM’s license with any Windows 2012 standard edition that we buy or is it a separate product that we need to order ?

    Actually, I am of the impression that there are two different products I.e
    1) Windows 2012 standard edition
    2) Windows 2012 standard edition with 2 VM’s license

    Pls help to clarify this ?

  • Lev says:

    Hi,
    Small question, I have 2012 R2 DC edition host license, and run mix of 2012 R2/2012/2008R2 guest VM. Do i need license for each edition of Windows server for VMs or 2012 R2 DC edition covers it all ?

  • Lev says:

    Hi,
    Small question, I have 2012 R2 DC edition host license, and run mix of 2012 R2/2012/2008R2 guest VM. Do i need license for each edition of Windows server for VMs or 2012 R2 DC edition covers it all ?

  • Joshua says:

    Eric: First, thank you for the great post! Second, I would like to build a failover cluster using a san with automatic distribution of the load. Obviously I need a san and then two physical boxes to host the VM’s.

    If my understanding is correct, I would have to buy 2 sets of Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition (one for each host) and then I can run as many 2008 R2/2012/2012 R2 VM’s as I want on each and they can move around as they please between the two hosts without any troubles. Right?

    • Eric Siron says:

      Yes, that’s right. That assumes that each of the two hosts has no more than 2 physical processor sockets. You would double your need for quad-socket systems.

  • Joshua says:

    Eric: First, thank you for the great post! Second, I would like to build a failover cluster using a san with automatic distribution of the load. Obviously I need a san and then two physical boxes to host the VM’s.

    If my understanding is correct, I would have to buy 2 sets of Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition (one for each host) and then I can run as many 2008 R2/2012/2012 R2 VM’s as I want on each and they can move around as they please between the two hosts without any troubles. Right?

  • james says:

    Eric: what about licensing for Linux VMs on Hyper-V? What does the free Hyper-v license entitle the user with? appreciate if you can add few bits for the so-called “free hyper-v license”

    • Eric Siron says:

      The Hyper-V license doesn’t entitle you with any licensing benefits other than running Hyper-V Server on the hardware. But — as I said somewhere… maybe in this article, or in the eBook… but definitely somewhere — Hyper-V virtual machines do not need licenses. Only the operating systems have anything to do with licensing. So, you could build a million empty virtual machines and Microsoft would never ask you for a penny. If you’re putting a Linux distribution inside a Hyper-V virtual machine, Microsoft has no licensing requirements for it at all. That’s not to say that the distribution creator doesn’t. The simplest answer is that guest licensing in a Hyper-V environment is always handled from the perspective of the operating system(s) in the guests.

  • Paul Reyes says:

    Eric, good article, I have a question that might doesn´t fit here but is about licensing. We are using a win SVR 2008 R2 vhd preconfigured as a template for the deploy of a solution. So our customers use Win SVR 2008 or 2012 STD mainly, and as far as I read you have to use the virtual product key for the activation process but for some reason it just doesnt work. Is there a special way that we have to export the VM (I think our suport team just copied the vhd from a hyper-v VM to do this)? or do you happen to have any article to which you can refer me?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Eric Siron says:

      Hi Paul,
      I’m reading that you’re using a 2008 R2 image but the target clients have 2008 and 2012 keys? Those are version mismatches, which would explain why your keys don’t work. The version has to match identically. Acquiring the proper key depends on how the product was purchased. For an open license, you get the downgrade licenses in your online account automatically upon registering the agreement. For all others, I’d go to the vendor that sold the licenses, but NOT the support teams because they don’t know. Start with a sales rep and try to get to a licensing person.

  • Paul Reyes says:

    Eric, good article, I have a question that might doesn´t fit here but is about licensing. We are using a win SVR 2008 R2 vhd preconfigured as a template for the deploy of a solution. So our customers use Win SVR 2008 or 2012 STD mainly, and as far as I read you have to use the virtual product key for the activation process but for some reason it just doesnt work. Is there a special way that we have to export the VM (I think our suport team just copied the vhd from a hyper-v VM to do this)? or do you happen to have any article to which you can refer me?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Kosta Maleev says:

    Hi Eric,
    First of all, grats for the amazing article.
    I have some questions: We`ve planning to build two separate machines, with Server 2012 R2 OS for virtualization. First one will be used to create virualization of our servers – all of them are already licensed with Server 2012 Standard OEM licences.
    Second one will be used to create virtual machines for our employees. We already have a lot of Windows 8 and 8.1 licenses.
    My questions are: can we use our Server 2012 Standard licenses to create virtual machines and migrate our non-virtual to virtual servers? The old, physical machines will be shutted down and leaved as backup solutions…
    And second one – can we use our Windows 8/8.1 (x64) licenses to create VM`s for our employees?
    Thanx in advance!

    • Eric Siron says:

      OEM licenses can never be decoupled from the hardware that they were sold with except in the case of hardware that failed and was replaced with the exact same hardware. You cannot shut down OEM-licensed machines and transfer their licenses. You’ll have to purchase new.
      Windows 8/8.1 have very particular rules in a virtualized environment. I have a rudimentary understanding of the rules but would always counsel everyone to talk to their reseller about their exact situation because there is more than one possible way to do it and a wide array of variables to determine which way is best. The quick and dirty answer is that the licenses you have are unlikely to allow you to virtualize.

  • Kosta Maleev says:

    Hi Eric,
    First of all, grats for the amazing article.
    I have some questions: We`ve planning to build two separate machines, with Server 2012 R2 OS for virtualization. First one will be used to create virualization of our servers – all of them are already licensed with Server 2012 Standard OEM licences.
    Second one will be used to create virtual machines for our employees. We already have a lot of Windows 8 and 8.1 licenses.
    My questions are: can we use our Server 2012 Standard licenses to create virtual machines and migrate our non-virtual to virtual servers? The old, physical machines will be shutted down and leaved as backup solutions…
    And second one – can we use our Windows 8/8.1 (x64) licenses to create VM`s for our employees?
    Thanx in advance!

  • Brian says:

    Here is my setup and I hope I am getting this straight.

    Right now I have a Windows 2008 Hyper-V Server running 5 VMs (they are: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, Windows XP, 2 x Windows 2008).

    I just received my new server and put Windows Server 2012 Standard R2. Could I move across all the VMs and setup a new Windows Server 2012 without changing any configurations or would I be breaking the license rules?

    I want to keep the guest systems intact. They all have valid keys as per my MSDN subscription.

    • Eric Siron says:

      The licenses are all assigned to the original hardware. I really don’t know if the MSDN subscription grants you the right to transfer to new hardware. As much as I don’t like speculating, it would seem really strange to me if they didn’t allow for it. So, you should be able to legally migrate those guests from the old to the new, with the rule being that they couldn’t migrate again for 90 days. To reiterate though, I really don’t know the rules for the MSDN license.

      • Brian says:

        Eric,

        If I did move over the 5 current VMs I have would I still be able to setup two additional Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard VMs as well?

        I know Standard has the rule of allowing two virtual machines but is that if they are licensed through the host? Are the other VMs safe at this point as well or would I be overloading my limit if they are all running at the same time?

        • Eric Siron says:

          Licenses are always assigned to the host. Always approach MS OS licensing from that perspective. The keys that you put into the guest are little more than housekeeping.
          If you’re porting over existing licenses that cover all the migrating guests (I’m still working from the assumption that MSDN licenses are portable), then you won’t need anything from your 2012 R2 license and are free to use its two virtualization rights.

  • Brian says:

    Here is my setup and I hope I am getting this straight.

    Right now I have a Windows 2008 Hyper-V Server running 5 VMs (they are: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, Windows XP, 2 x Windows 2008).

    I just received my new server and put Windows Server 2012 Standard R2. Could I move across all the VMs and setup a new Windows Server 2012 without changing any configurations or would I be breaking the license rules?

    I want to keep the guest systems intact. They all have valid keys as per my MSDN subscription.

  • Tanvir Panjwani says:

    Hi Eric,

    Great article… thanks for putting it together!

    We are building a server with windows 2012 r2 standard as the host. We want to be able to build 2 guest operating systems on that physical server. My question is that does the host machine have to run Windows 2012 R2 Standard Core or can we do a full operating system installation with the GUI? I understand that by adding any other roles will mean that we forfeit the license.

    thanks

  • Tanvir Panjwani says:

    Hi Eric,

    Great article… thanks for putting it together!

    We are building a server with windows 2012 r2 standard as the host. We want to be able to build 2 guest operating systems on that physical server. My question is that does the host machine have to run Windows 2012 R2 Standard Core or can we do a full operating system installation with the GUI? I understand that by adding any other roles will mean that we forfeit the license.

    thanks

  • Tim Wright says:

    Great article. Appreciate that the points are primarily about licensing as opposed to activation, but when running 2012 R2 DC as host how do I activate 2008 guests? I believe the DC license allows me to run the 2008 guests but this still does not clarify how to activate them.

    • Eric Siron says:

      The activation process is the same as it always has been for 2008. Is there something in particular you’re having trouble with?

  • Very good post, helped me clear one or two things up.

    Thanks.

  • Very good post, helped me clear one or two things up.

    Thanks.

  • Damien says:

    Great Post, I am currently still running a few Server 2003 enterprise edition does the ‘or below ‘ cover varying versions of the earlier OS’s

    Many Thanks

    • Eric Siron says:

      Hi Damien,
      As far as I know, down edition is pretty much universal. The trick can be getting keys for anything earlier than 03R2.

  • Damien says:

    Great Post, I am currently still running a few Server 2003 enterprise edition does the ‘or below ‘ cover varying versions of the earlier OS’s

    Many Thanks

  • Tom G. says:

    I have 2 new servers setup in a failover configuration. Each server has a 2012 R2 standard license. I installed VMs on the servers, but when I try to activate with the 2012 R2 license that came with the server, it doesn’t accept that code. Is there a process I am missing to get the activation keys for these VMs? Also, if one server were to go down, I’m assuming I could run all 4 VMs on one server until I get the other server back up? Thanks for the great article!

    • Eric Siron says:

      Check with your reseller on the keys. You might need to call the Microsoft clearinghouse.
      Your cluster is not legally licensed for 4 guests because a simple node restart will cause a failover and failback event. Each host needs 2 Standard licenses.

  • Robert Schleicher says:

    I have a datacenter 2012 r2 license and I don’t know how to correctly license the guests. Can I install Hyper V 2012 R2 and use slmgr to add my MAK key or do I need to install server core and add the Hyper V role via powershell? How the guests get licensed? If I type in the MAK key for my guests won’t that absorb all of my activations on that MAK key? Thanks for any insight.

    • Eric Siron says:

      Eventually, it will use all your MAK keys and you’ll have to call the licensing center to get more activations. Or you could just use KMS which is much easier.

  • Tom Soumilas says:

    Great intro, but would mind commenting on a simple licensing configuration?

    Its the CPU/Core factor that I’m not clear on yet.

    Consider a single physical box, that has 2 CPU sockets, each processor is a 4 core, hyper-threaded, Xeon.

    Without consideration for VMs or Guests, using VLA licenses:
    – To be correctly licensed for 2K12R2 Server Standard, it would require 2 licenses for EACH processor, 4 licenses for the physical box.
    – If licensed for 2K12R2 Server Datacenter, the physical box would require a single license.

    Further, without consideration of hardware limitations, the first scenario above would be legally licensed to allow 8 2K12R2 VMs running and the second scenario would be legally licensed to allow unlimited 2K12R2 VMs, without further licensing requirements.

    Thx

    • Eric Siron says:

      Core count is irrelevant. Only filled sockets matter. Licenses are per half or fully-filled socket pairs. This is true for both Standard and Datacenter. 1 Standard license on a dual-socket box allows 2 Standard guest virtualization rights. 1 DC license on a dual-socket box allows for unlimited Standard and DC virtualization rights. 2 Standard licenses on a dual-socket box allows for 4 Standard guest virtualization rights. 2 DC licenses on a dual-socket box is a complete waste of one of those two licenses.

  • Tom Soumilas says:

    Great intro, but would mind commenting on a simple licensing configuration?

    Its the CPU/Core factor that I’m not clear on yet.

    Consider a single physical box, that has 2 CPU sockets, each processor is a 4 core, hyper-threaded, Xeon.

    Without consideration for VMs or Guests, using VLA licenses:
    – To be correctly licensed for 2K12R2 Server Standard, it would require 2 licenses for EACH processor, 4 licenses for the physical box.
    – If licensed for 2K12R2 Server Datacenter, the physical box would require a single license.

    Further, without consideration of hardware limitations, the first scenario above would be legally licensed to allow 8 2K12R2 VMs running and the second scenario would be legally licensed to allow unlimited 2K12R2 VMs, without further licensing requirements.

    Thx

  • Yaro says:

    I have one license “Windows Server 2012 R2 STD”. I have a right to install one operating system as a host and two virtual machines (no roles and no functions on the host except Hyper-V) – is this true?
    Question:
    1. Is the license allow to install 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host 2xVMs W2K8 STD R2 on this Hyper-V host (downgrade rights)?
    2. Alternative, can I install 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host ( 1xVM W2K8 STD R2 1xVM W2K12 STD R2 ) mixed on this Hyper-V host?

  • Yaro says:

    I have one license “Windows Server 2012 R2 STD”. I have a right to install one operating system as a host and two virtual machines (no roles and no functions on the host except Hyper-V) – is this true?
    Question:
    1. Is the license allow to install 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host 2xVMs W2K8 STD R2 on this Hyper-V host (downgrade rights)?
    2. Alternative, can I install 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host ( 1xVM W2K8 STD R2 1xVM W2K12 STD R2 ) mixed on this Hyper-V host?

  • Brian Menzel says:

    If I have the physical server licensed with Server 2012R2 Datacenter, am I allowed to run Server 2012R2 Standard VM’s under this license?

  • I have read through all of the above but I haven’t found an answer for my question. Please help?

    I have 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host (Activated) 1xVM running W2K12 STD R2 as a VM on Hyper-V (Not activated)

    My question is, how do I activate the VM on the Hyper-V? I have tried using the same serial as the host but it gives me a ‘not a valid key’ error.

    Thanks in advance
    Peter

    • Eric Siron says:

      Keys and activation are a separate discussion from licensing and I can’t give you any definitive answers. I would start with the reseller and see if they can tell you why the key doesn’t work. Some packages include a different key set for the VMs.

      But also make sure that your VM has 1 GB of RAM when you install. It might not be a key error at all.

  • I have read through all of the above but I haven’t found an answer for my question. Please help?

    I have 1xW2k12 STD R2 as a host (Activated) 1xVM running W2K12 STD R2 as a VM on Hyper-V (Not activated)

    My question is, how do I activate the VM on the Hyper-V? I have tried using the same serial as the host but it gives me a ‘not a valid key’ error.

    Thanks in advance
    Peter

    • Eric Siron says:

      Keys and activation are a separate discussion from licensing and I can’t give you any definitive answers. I would start with the reseller and see if they can tell you why the key doesn’t work. Some packages include a different key set for the VMs.

      But also make sure that your VM has 1 GB of RAM when you install. It might not be a key error at all.

  • Jeff says:

    Thanks for the great article! I just want to clarify: I have two server 2008 R2 open licenses that I can transfer to the Hyper-V 2012 R2 host (2 socket). Does that allow me to run 4 VMs of 2008 R2 or only 2? I know its four with 2012, but fuzzy on 2008 R2.

    • Eric Siron says:

      2008 R2 Standard is one virtual WS instance per physical host regardless of physical processor count, 2008 R2 Enterprise is 4 virtual WS instances per host regardless of processor count, and 2008 R2 Datacenter is unlimited virtual WS instances per physical processor pair.

  • Owes Khan says:

    We have recently received notification from our SPLA reseller about licensing that a dual CPU system now requires two licenses.

    Could you please shed some light on same?

    Thank You.

  • Owes Khan says:

    We have recently received notification from our SPLA reseller about licensing that a dual CPU system now requires two licenses.

    Could you please shed some light on same?

    Thank You.

  • Brad says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the great article. I’m just wondering about this scenario and it might just take a quick yes or no answer from you to clarify.

    If I install Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 as the bare-metal hypervisor on a single physical server and I purchase Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, but don’t install Windows Server 2012 as a host operating system… can I create 3 virtual machines in Hyper-V Server and run Windows Server 2012 R2 in each of these virtual servers. OR is that physical host installation licence of WS2012R2 limited to physical installation only and therefore regardless of the setup I’m allowed only two virtual instances of Windows Server 2012 R2 even if I don’t actually install the “host” version of it and only use it in the virtual machines?

    Thanks. Brad

    • Eric Siron says:

      Hi Brad,
      The Standard license is a hard maximum of 1 physical operating system environment (pOSE) and grants 2 attached virtual operating system environments (vOSE) to the licensed hardware. You can forfeit the pOSE by not installing it. You can forfeit one of the vOSEs by installing something in the pOSE that isn’t Hyper-V-related. You cannot ever arrive at 3 vOSEs from a single Standard license.

  • Brad says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the great article. I’m just wondering about this scenario and it might just take a quick yes or no answer from you to clarify.

    If I install Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 as the bare-metal hypervisor on a single physical server and I purchase Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, but don’t install Windows Server 2012 as a host operating system… can I create 3 virtual machines in Hyper-V Server and run Windows Server 2012 R2 in each of these virtual servers. OR is that physical host installation licence of WS2012R2 limited to physical installation only and therefore regardless of the setup I’m allowed only two virtual instances of Windows Server 2012 R2 even if I don’t actually install the “host” version of it and only use it in the virtual machines?

    Thanks. Brad

  • Mike says:

    Issue:

    I have 1 2012r2 Standard box. Does that mean I can use the same key on the two guest copies of 2012 r2 standard for activation? Or do I need 2 more licenses to run the two 2012r2 Hyper-v guests?

    • Eric Siron says:

      You don’t need to purchase any more licenses. Activation is a separate thing from licensing. I think that the key should work just fine but that’s something I would run by your reseller first. Sometimes, in some packages, they use separate keys for the guest OSs.

  • Mike says:

    Issue:

    I have 1 2012r2 Standard box. Does that mean I can use the same key on the two guest copies of 2012 r2 standard for activation? Or do I need 2 more licenses to run the two 2012r2 Hyper-v guests?

  • Lax says:

    I’m sorry if the question has been presented and answered in the past but I will make it simple.

    I understand that WS/12/R2/STD license gives me rights to 1 Physical (Full) 2 HyperV VM (Full).

    My questions is do I have the same rights of installing the 2 HyperV VM (Full) is I choose to install on a physical machine running Free Core edition of HyperV 2012 R2 which is only limited to HyperV role.

    Thank you,

  • Lax says:

    I’m sorry if the question has been presented and answered in the past but I will make it simple.

    I understand that WS/12/R2/STD license gives me rights to 1 Physical (Full) 2 HyperV VM (Full).

    My questions is do I have the same rights of installing the 2 HyperV VM (Full) is I choose to install on a physical machine running Free Core edition of HyperV 2012 R2 which is only limited to HyperV role.

    Thank you,

  • Dan says:

    I have a scenario.

    I own 2 x Server 2008 R2 Enterprise licenses and 1 x 2012 Standard license. I have 2 Hyper-V servers both running Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 (free). Is it legal to run 8 x 2008 R2 VMs and 2 x 2012 VMs?

    Thank you

  • Dan says:

    I have a scenario.

    I own 2 x Server 2008 R2 Enterprise licenses and 1 x 2012 Standard license. I have 2 Hyper-V servers both running Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 (free). Is it legal to run 8 x 2008 R2 VMs and 2 x 2012 VMs?

    Thank you

  • Rick says:

    Scenario:
    Server 2008 R2 serving strictly as a Hyper-V host.
    Currently running 4 Server 2008 R2 guests. (Should be good so far, right?)
    Somewhere (cannot find the source document that lead me to this conclusion) I read that I can also* run a couple of Windows 7 guests *as well* because these instances do not count as part of the 4 “included” guests since they are covered by their own volume license. Is this correct? I’m trying to find supporting documentation one way or the other.

    • Eric Siron says:

      The most correct phrasing is that no version or edition of Windows (which means a desktop operating system) is covered by any Windows Server license. Your server licensing is fine, assuming you have 2 Standard or 1 Enterprise 08 R2 license.

      As for Windows 7… Volume licensing is an upgrade-only license. So, you must first purchase a retail license, then you can “upgrade” it with your volume license, and then you need a license for the device that you’re connecting from. And they want you to have Software Assurance on the volume license but I don’t remember exactly what that gets you. And now you know why adoption of Windows VDI has been so slow. It’s cheaper to buy a decent piece of hardware for clients with an included OEM license and pay people to maintain them.
      At some point along the way, the rules changed with the VDA license. I am not familiar with that, but I think it involves going full-on VDI with the broker and web roles, which means more Server licenses but cheaper licenses for the virtual desktops.
      I would definitely take this question to a license provider. Desktop OS licensing is just messy.

  • Rick says:

    Scenario:
    Server 2008 R2 serving strictly as a Hyper-V host.
    Currently running 4 Server 2008 R2 guests. (Should be good so far, right?)
    Somewhere (cannot find the source document that lead me to this conclusion) I read that I can also* run a couple of Windows 7 guests *as well* because these instances do not count as part of the 4 “included” guests since they are covered by their own volume license. Is this correct? I’m trying to find supporting documentation one way or the other.

  • Nico says:

    How about adding 2012R2 VM’s to a 2008 Hyper-V host?
    On a two node Hyper-V 2008 Enterprise Server cluster server running four Enterprise server 2008 VM guests, these four guests are covered.
    If two 2012R2 Standard server VM guests are added to this cluster one additional 2012R2 Standard license is required to cover these two 2012R2 Std VM’s?

  • Nico says:

    How about adding 2012R2 VM’s to a 2008 Hyper-V host?
    On a two node Hyper-V 2008 Enterprise Server cluster server running four Enterprise server 2008 VM guests, these four guests are covered.
    If two 2012R2 Standard server VM guests are added to this cluster one additional 2012R2 Standard license is required to cover these two 2012R2 Std VM’s?

  • Mitch says:

    Hello, thank you for the clear article.

    If possible, let me throw my situation at you for an opinion, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I’ve purchased through Microsoft Volume Licensing Server 2012 R2.

    I have it setup the following way, is this licensed the correctly?

    POSE- Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V only)
    VOSE #1- Server 2012 R2 Standard
    VOSE #2- Server 2008 R2 Standard

    I meant to install 2012 R2 Standard on the Physical Operating System Environment (the physical server) but wasn’t paying attention when I created the bootable media. I’ll go back and put 2012 R2 on there if I need to, but if what I have temporarily setup is correct I’ll leave it that way.

    Thank you in advance!

    Cheers,
    Mitch

  • Mitch says:

    Hello, thank you for the clear article.

    If possible, let me throw my situation at you for an opinion, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I’ve purchased through Microsoft Volume Licensing Server 2012 R2.

    I have it setup the following way, is this licensed the correctly?

    POSE- Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V only)
    VOSE #1- Server 2012 R2 Standard
    VOSE #2- Server 2008 R2 Standard

    I meant to install 2012 R2 Standard on the Physical Operating System Environment (the physical server) but wasn’t paying attention when I created the bootable media. I’ll go back and put 2012 R2 on there if I need to, but if what I have temporarily setup is correct I’ll leave it that way.

    Thank you in advance!

    Cheers,
    Mitch

  • Mike B says:

    Eric, thanks for the time and effort you put into this. I have a 2012 std host (workgroup) activated and running Hyper V. I installed A/D on one vm and loading server 2008 rs std as the 2nd vm for Terminal services (reason is I only own TS cals for server 2008). I do not have a key to activate the server 2008 r2 box, is there a way to utilize the free vm activation off the host? Everything is activated but the 2008 r2 installation.

    • Eric Siron says:

      You can legally run 2008 but you’ll need to work with your reseller to figure out how to get your downgrade keys.

  • Craig says:

    Hi Eric, Good article and great followup – just having a discussion with regards to our 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition licensed hosts: Does it matter what Guest OS we install (Standard vs Datacenter 2012 R2) or is there a “best practice” which prefers one over the other as a guest? I would have thought that installing Standard guests would make more sense as they would never require the virtualisation rights as they are VM’s themselves?

  • vlad says:

    so let me see if I understand this correctly.

    if I have a single physical host(2 CPU) and 2012 Standard Licence
    I can run
    1. POSE- Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V only) and 2. VOSE Server 2012 R2 Standard on the machine
    that is totally legit.

    but I cannot load any other systems on it without additional licences?
    that kind of conflicts with explanation that I can run over 1k of guests on the machine, isn’t?

    I mean as long as I have proper licenses for any OS (suns the 2012 server) shouldn’t I be able to run it in VM on this host.
    although key does not necessarily equities to license (MAK/LVM are multi license keys) but if I have a MAK/LVN and I want to use it on my VM
    you tell me it is not legal for me to do?

    from reading the eula on ms site, it seams to me the licence they are talking about was/is reffers to win 2012 server. meaning if you want need to run multiple windows 2012 server VMs on the host with single license you can only run legally 2 VMs of it. but if I have let say unused license for server 2008, why can I not setup and run it in VM? or windows 7 or 8 ?
    I bought the license, I payed for it.

    • Eric Siron says:

      No, there is no conflict. The maximum number of active virtual machines is a technical limitation that is unrelated to licensing. The virtual machine as a container (partition), is not licensed. Licensing applies to operating systems (and software, and whatever else).
      I don’t know if I’m understanding your position/intent enough to know where you’re reading what I’m saying as telling you that you’d be doing something illegal. As far as I understand your proposition, it’s potentially legal. As long as you follow the guidelines for the license that you’re applying, you can use whatever guest operating systems that license entitles you to. The same host can have 2012 R2 and 2012 and 2008 R2 and 2008 and whatever other OS licenses applied. You only have to make sure that the deployed guests are properly accounted for by the licenses that you have.
      But, you can’t go spreading one license over multiple hosts. All Windows Server licenses are applied to singular hosts in one way or another. So, if you have host “A” licensed up correctly and then try to Live Migrate one or more of its guests to host “B” and it has no licenses, then you are in trouble. The guest OS is not licensed so no license will follow it as it moves; the hardware is what is licensed. You also can’t take the OEM license for a 2008 R2 box that you’re retiring and use it on any new hardware. License transferability hasn’t changed much in the history of Windows Server so these rules all applied long before virtualization was a concern.

      • vlad says:

        ok, so that means, if I have 5 licenses for win 2012 standard server avalable to me via my msdn subscription. I can apply 2 of them to the hyper-v host I am building out (2 phys. CPU) and run 4 Server 2012 VMs
        I can use one of the licences to rebuild/upgrade my current 2008 sbs

        and I can also create a VM on the main host (I only have 1 hyper-v physical host so no migration or clustering here) load it with let say 2008 server sp2 using licence from my subscription and it will be legal right?

        I am not breaking any laws here as long as I am not reusing the licence I have already used on other build. same thing with using my volume licenc for win7 on one or two vms instead of physical machines. if I have 50 and using only 35 for real pcs I can use some on VMs right?
        you see I have a bunch of licences that never been used. they come as part of subscription not specifically added. so now at least I have a chance to use them.

        • Eric Siron says:

          I don’t know if MSDN subscription licenses have different requirements than volume and retail licenses. Doesn’t MSDN come with Datacenter? In a test/dev environment, I would use that license on the Hyper-V host and take advantage of Automatic Virtual Machine Activation. But for downlevel guests that can’t use AVMA, sure, you can apply those unused licenses. Just keep in mind that the license is assigned to the hardware regardless of what operating system you type the key into. The issue with MSDN licenses is that they can’t be used for any production system.

          • vlad says:

            thanks, I think I was mistaken, it is not msdn subscription.
            it some kind of software assurance thing.

          • Eric Siron says:

            Be careful with Software Assurance. With active SA, new keys are issued as new products are released, but they supersede earlier keys; they do not add to the total license count. Meaning, if you bought 2008 R2 SA and it was still active when 2012 R2 released, you would be assigned 2012 R2 keys that you could use to upgrade or replace the original 2008 R2 deployment. You cannot use them together.
            I think you have enough going on that you should probably call your license reseller and get solidly grounded on where you are today and what you can do.

  • vlad says:

    so let me see if I understand this correctly.

    if I have a single physical host(2 CPU) and 2012 Standard Licence
    I can run
    1. POSE- Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V only) and 2. VOSE Server 2012 R2 Standard on the machine
    that is totally legit.

    but I cannot load any other systems on it without additional licences?
    that kind of conflicts with explanation that I can run over 1k of guests on the machine, isn’t?

    I mean as long as I have proper licenses for any OS (suns the 2012 server) shouldn’t I be able to run it in VM on this host.
    although key does not necessarily equities to license (MAK/LVM are multi license keys) but if I have a MAK/LVN and I want to use it on my VM
    you tell me it is not legal for me to do?

    from reading the eula on ms site, it seams to me the licence they are talking about was/is reffers to win 2012 server. meaning if you want need to run multiple windows 2012 server VMs on the host with single license you can only run legally 2 VMs of it. but if I have let say unused license for server 2008, why can I not setup and run it in VM? or windows 7 or 8 ?
    I bought the license, I payed for it.

  • Andrew says:

    If the licence on the physical was changed to a new licence, does the virtual machine licence automatically update? if not do i have to update them all myself?

    • Eric Siron says:

      Update? Are you talking about keys? No, the keys don’t update, but the keys don’t matter. Licenses are not keys. As long as you have sufficient licenses to cover all the guests, the exact keys that they are using does not matter.

  • Frank says:

    If I have currently Windows 2012 standard running with 2 VM instances and then later down the line i want to migrate to a new server with Datacenter Ed, can I just simply transfer the 2 existing VMs over to the new server?

    • Eric Siron says:

      If the new one has Datacenter Edition, what would be the point of transferring further licenses to it? You could, but it would be a waste.

  • Jack Morris says:

    I am desperately hoping someone can enlighten me. We are a hosting provider, offering bare metal servers. We offer Windows 2012 Data Center as one of the OS’ options.

    We license the OS under our SPLA licensing agreement and hand over the server to the client. Creating and activating unlimited Windows 2012 Guest VM’s is accomplished through Hyper V and AVMA.

    What I am struggling with is how to activate/license Windows Server 2008 Guest VM’s with out providing our end client one of our MAK keys or licenses. Since 2012 DC covers the unlimited Guest VM’s, how do we go about providing the client a hands off way of activating their vm’s?

    • Eric Siron says:

      I’m sorry Jack, but SPLA is not something that I have any authoritative knowledge on or contacts that I can query. I know even less about key distribution in an SPLA environment. You might be able to set up a KMS system that clients can reach, but I wouldn’t know the terms that would apply.

      • Jack Morris says:

        Eric,

        I really appreciate your prompt response, more than you know. Getting info from MS directly has proven to be somewhat painful.

        Do you by any chance know the process If this were my own 2012 Datacenter license? Example, 1 physical host, with two cpus and the appropriate licenses applied. How do you validate a 2008 Std VM? Would you use AVMA to create a 2012 VM and then downgrade the OS to 2008?

        • Eric Siron says:

          AVMA is continually checked so there is no downgrade option.
          KMS would be my first choice for down-level operating systems in an internal environment.

  • Jack Morris says:

    I am desperately hoping someone can enlighten me. We are a hosting provider, offering bare metal servers. We offer Windows 2012 Data Center as one of the OS’ options.

    We license the OS under our SPLA licensing agreement and hand over the server to the client. Creating and activating unlimited Windows 2012 Guest VM’s is accomplished through Hyper V and AVMA.

    What I am struggling with is how to activate/license Windows Server 2008 Guest VM’s with out providing our end client one of our MAK keys or licenses. Since 2012 DC covers the unlimited Guest VM’s, how do we go about providing the client a hands off way of activating their vm’s?

  • Jack Morris says:

    Eric,

    Thank you, I know this was completely outside the realm of the forum. If you need anything, please just ask. I owe you a favor!

    Let me know if you want a server for a month or would like a trial of any of my products. I would be more than happy to return the favor.

    Jack

  • Jack Morris says:

    Eric,

    Thank you, I know this was completely outside the realm of the forum. If you need anything, please just ask. I owe you a favor!

    Let me know if you want a server for a month or would like a trial of any of my products. I would be more than happy to return the favor.

    Jack

  • Luca says:

    Hi Eric,
    I was hoping someone can help me understanding the licensing, and this article worked well! BUt I’ve stilla doubt regarding my scenario:
    I’ve bought a couple of HP Microserver with OEM Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, set them up as Hyper-visors and then created 1 vm each, with a VM replica configured.
    Now I’ve figured out that I’ve created those VMs with a VHDX that was not a standard but a Datacenter edition! Since downgrade is not supported, could this be a problem?
    With the Standard, I have 2 VM for each Hyper-v, and so it’s ok in my scenario (1VM active 1 replica of the other VM on the other Hypervisor), but I’m really worried about this problem about the VMs with the Datacenter edition

    Thank you for the support

    Luca

    • Eric Siron says:

      That’s a pretty big problem. I’ve never tried this before, but what happens if you just enter your Windows Standard key? System Properties->Change Product Key.
      If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to come up with a migration plan.

  • Luca says:

    Hi Eric,
    I was hoping someone can help me understanding the licensing, and this article worked well! BUt I’ve stilla doubt regarding my scenario:
    I’ve bought a couple of HP Microserver with OEM Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, set them up as Hyper-visors and then created 1 vm each, with a VM replica configured.
    Now I’ve figured out that I’ve created those VMs with a VHDX that was not a standard but a Datacenter edition! Since downgrade is not supported, could this be a problem?
    With the Standard, I have 2 VM for each Hyper-v, and so it’s ok in my scenario (1VM active 1 replica of the other VM on the other Hypervisor), but I’m really worried about this problem about the VMs with the Datacenter edition

    Thank you for the support

    Luca

  • Richard Turn says:

    Hopefully you can answer this question as everyone else seems a little confused by it.

    We currently have Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard running on one physical server.

    Does this same Windows 2012 R2 license allow me to install a VM on totally different server that is already running Windows Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V?

  • Richard Turn says:

    Hopefully you can answer this question as everyone else seems a little confused by it.

    We currently have Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard running on one physical server.

    Does this same Windows 2012 R2 license allow me to install a VM on totally different server that is already running Windows Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V?

  • Mits says:

    Hi,
    What if the physical host server is also running other services as well as HyperV role e.g. Domain Controller, File/Prin shares etc, and then i have 2 Virtual servers. Is that allowed with just the one 2012/2012 R2 license, or can the physical box only be allowed to host HyperV role?

    Thanks in advance

  • Mits says:

    Hi,
    What if the physical host server is also running other services as well as HyperV role e.g. Domain Controller, File/Prin shares etc, and then i have 2 Virtual servers. Is that allowed with just the one 2012/2012 R2 license, or can the physical box only be allowed to host HyperV role?

    Thanks in advance

  • Mits says:

    Damn!
    OK.
    So, For server server purchased with Dell OEM Windows OS license (so has sticker on the chassis): what if guest OS is livened with VOL key – using sysprep file – with no purchase against it instead of the license on the sticker (which i never thought to use on guest OS) are we in breach of license?

    • Eric Siron says:

      OEM, volume, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is whether or not a host has sufficient guest virtualization rights for the number and version of the virtual machines that it is running. If you have one Standard OEM license and three or more guests running Windows Server, then you are out of compliance.

  • Mits says:

    Damn!
    OK.
    So, For server server purchased with Dell OEM Windows OS license (so has sticker on the chassis): what if guest OS is livened with VOL key – using sysprep file – with no purchase against it instead of the license on the sticker (which i never thought to use on guest OS) are we in breach of license?

  • Joseph Beurgmann says:

    First of thank you as this is the best information that I have seen around about this. Setup I’m preparing to launch.

    So here are my questions. Server 2012 R2 = 1 x pOSE 2 x vOSE on same 2 socket host, ok got that.

    1. Now from reading this article each Role installed besides hyper-V removes 1 vOSE? This is new to me.

    2. Is that only on the pOSE? or Can vOSE install all roles needed w/o additional licenses?

    3. Domain Controller (Primary)
    1U 1 socket Server 2012 R2 Roles Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, Print & Document Services, File & Storage Services
    The Standard License covers the host (pOSE) and Active Directory & DNS would use the 2 remaining vOSE.
    Provided that Server 2012 R2 comes with 2 x vOSE, I would still need a license for DHCP, Print & Document Services & File & Storage Services

    Based on the reasoning above the total Licenses this server should have is 3 x 2012 R2 Std Licenses, Correct?

    4. 2U 2 Socket Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 Servers x 2 Replicating to each other. (HyperV1 & Hyper-V2)

    Hyper-V1 Server Hosts a guest 2012 R2 (Backup Domain Controller) which is replicated to Hyper-V2, so I would require a 2012 R2 License for each host Hyper-V Server machine?

    5. This 2012 R2 VM since it is the Backup DC it also has all the roles of the Primary DC so it also requires the same amount of licenses as the 1U Primary DC x 3?

    6. Each Free Hyper Visor is going to be Hosting 5 Windows 10 VM’s as well with Replica enabled. With replicationwe will require to have a Windows 10 License for each
    VM on each Hyper-V host. So if were hosting 5 VMs on each server and then being replicated back to the other each server has 10 VMs so it would require 20 licenses (10 for each server)?

    • Eric Siron says:

      I don’t really think I’m following all of your questions. You will want to call your license reseller as soon as possible and get a consult.
      To take a shot at what I think you’re asking:

      • Individual roles do not consume vOSE privileges. If one or more roles or applications are installed in the pOSE that are not directly related to Hyper-V, one vOSE privilege is forfeited. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one role or 100 applications, only one privilege is forfeited.
      • A guest operating system cannot consume more than one vOSE, at least until nested virtualization is RTM.
      • The Replica configuration as you describe it will need 3 licenses per host.
  • Joseph Beurgmann says:

    First of thank you as this is the best information that I have seen around about this. Setup I’m preparing to launch.

    So here are my questions. Server 2012 R2 = 1 x pOSE 2 x vOSE on same 2 socket host, ok got that.

    1. Now from reading this article each Role installed besides hyper-V removes 1 vOSE? This is new to me.

    2. Is that only on the pOSE? or Can vOSE install all roles needed w/o additional licenses?

    3. Domain Controller (Primary)
    1U 1 socket Server 2012 R2 Roles Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, Print & Document Services, File & Storage Services
    The Standard License covers the host (pOSE) and Active Directory & DNS would use the 2 remaining vOSE.
    Provided that Server 2012 R2 comes with 2 x vOSE, I would still need a license for DHCP, Print & Document Services & File & Storage Services

    Based on the reasoning above the total Licenses this server should have is 3 x 2012 R2 Std Licenses, Correct?

    4. 2U 2 Socket Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 Servers x 2 Replicating to each other. (HyperV1 & Hyper-V2)

    Hyper-V1 Server Hosts a guest 2012 R2 (Backup Domain Controller) which is replicated to Hyper-V2, so I would require a 2012 R2 License for each host Hyper-V Server machine?

    5. This 2012 R2 VM since it is the Backup DC it also has all the roles of the Primary DC so it also requires the same amount of licenses as the 1U Primary DC x 3?

    6. Each Free Hyper Visor is going to be Hosting 5 Windows 10 VM’s as well with Replica enabled. With replicationwe will require to have a Windows 10 License for each
    VM on each Hyper-V host. So if were hosting 5 VMs on each server and then being replicated back to the other each server has 10 VMs so it would require 20 licenses (10 for each server)?

  • Mark Smith says:

    Hi Eric,

    If I had a 2 socket windows 2012 standard server with Hyper-V installed. I then install 2 windows 2012 VM’s all is good with licencing.

    What if I then install a windows 2008 server. For example I have a spare wither 2008 licence unused. Can I just install this and insert the key? Or do I also need to buy another Windows 2012 standard licence and assign this to the host?

  • Mark Smith says:

    Hi Eric,

    If I had a 2 socket windows 2012 standard server with Hyper-V installed. I then install 2 windows 2012 VM’s all is good with licencing.

    What if I then install a windows 2008 server. For example I have a spare wither 2008 licence unused. Can I just install this and insert the key? Or do I also need to buy another Windows 2012 standard licence and assign this to the host?

  • Sérgio Sousa says:

    Hi,

    With a single Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 License and a single physical host (2 CPU),
    can I install a POSE Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 instance with Hyper-V and VDI Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (Remote Desktop Virtualization and Remote Desktop Web services) and use 2 additional VOSE Windows Server Standard 2012 R2 as Virtual Machines?
    Or if the Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 POSE use VDI Services I can’t use the 2x additional VOSE?

    Thanks,
    SSousa

    • Eric Siron says:

      From the RDS roles, only the Remote Desktop Virtualization Host role can be installed in the management operating system without forfeiting a license.

  • Sérgio Sousa says:

    Hi,

    With a single Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 License and a single physical host (2 CPU),
    can I install a POSE Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 instance with Hyper-V and VDI Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (Remote Desktop Virtualization and Remote Desktop Web services) and use 2 additional VOSE Windows Server Standard 2012 R2 as Virtual Machines?
    Or if the Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 POSE use VDI Services I can’t use the 2x additional VOSE?

    Thanks,
    SSousa

  • james chok says:

    Hi Eric,

    I have this scenario and would like to hear your opinion,
    I have 2 physicals production server that installed windows server standard 2012 R2, i installed 2 victuals windows and point the storage SAN and i configure cluster and live migration to failover and fallback functionality. I also have setup the same as above to DR (disaster recovery) in case the SAN goes anything wrong, which mean i replicate the cluster from production to DR.

    My question is if i want to add 1 more virtual windows into the cluster;
    1) do i need to buy 1 license for each host (in total 4 licenses) or i just buy 1 license that just activate the virtual/guest VM

    2)how do i activate the additional license , either in host or guest?

    Thx
    J

    • Eric Siron says:

      All hosts that will ever operate the virtual machine must have an available license for it. As it says in the text, you cannot buy a license for a virtual machine.
      Activation is always from the guest operating system level unless you have Automatic Virtual Machine Activation.

  • james chok says:

    Hi Eric,

    I have this scenario and would like to hear your opinion,
    I have 2 physicals production server that installed windows server standard 2012 R2, i installed 2 victuals windows and point the storage SAN and i configure cluster and live migration to failover and fallback functionality. I also have setup the same as above to DR (disaster recovery) in case the SAN goes anything wrong, which mean i replicate the cluster from production to DR.

    My question is if i want to add 1 more virtual windows into the cluster;
    1) do i need to buy 1 license for each host (in total 4 licenses) or i just buy 1 license that just activate the virtual/guest VM

    2)how do i activate the additional license , either in host or guest?

    Thx
    J

  • Tarquin says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for your article I’m hoping you can help me with my scenario:

    I have one host (windows server 2008 R2) with two VMs with a tape drive in the host. I want to install Backup Software on the host to backup the VMs. Do I need a license for the host?

    • Eric Siron says:

      If it’s only backing up itself and its own VMs, then no, you don’t need another license.

  • Tarquin says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for your article I’m hoping you can help me with my scenario:

    I have one host (windows server 2008 R2) with two VMs with a tape drive in the host. I want to install Backup Software on the host to backup the VMs. Do I need a license for the host?

  • Thomas Clayton says:

    Hello Eric,

    We’re currently going through a MS licensing audit.

    We have a single server running Windows 2008R2 Std OEM

    The physical host runs Domain Controller,, File Server and HyperV roles.
    The HyperV role hosts a single instance of Windows 2008R2 Std and runs the Remote Desktop Services role.

    MS claim that because the host is running other roles in addition to HyperV role we are 1 short of Windows standard 2008R2 license.

    I’m confused and contesting this because my understanding is that Windows 2008R2 Standard has rights to run a single physical host and one virtual guest instance. I fail to see how running a DC, File server role on the physical host would violate the licensing here.

    I don’t want to buy another license unnecessarily when I’m already aware we have a small shortfall of Windows server user CALs to address and also in next couple of weeks we intend to run a new server with new Windows OS, etc.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Eric Siron says:

      With 2012 or later licensing, you would have been fine. On 2008 and 2008 R2 Standard there is only a single guest privilege. Any role in the management operating system that is not devoted to operation/management of virtual machines causes you to forfeit one of those privileges. In this instance, you have forfeited the only guest license that you had. If you purchase a 2012 R2 Standard license today, it will cover your existing installation. If you are retiring the host, you can then transfer the license to your new system.

  • Thomas Clayton says:

    Hello Eric,

    We’re currently going through a MS licensing audit.

    We have a single server running Windows 2008R2 Std OEM

    The physical host runs Domain Controller,, File Server and HyperV roles.
    The HyperV role hosts a single instance of Windows 2008R2 Std and runs the Remote Desktop Services role.

    MS claim that because the host is running other roles in addition to HyperV role we are 1 short of Windows standard 2008R2 license.

    I’m confused and contesting this because my understanding is that Windows 2008R2 Standard has rights to run a single physical host and one virtual guest instance. I fail to see how running a DC, File server role on the physical host would violate the licensing here.

    I don’t want to buy another license unnecessarily when I’m already aware we have a small shortfall of Windows server user CALs to address and also in next couple of weeks we intend to run a new server with new Windows OS, etc.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hi Eric,
    thank you for you article.

    I hope you can confirm my opinion about windows server 2012 R2 datacenter and licensing.

    I need to install 2 phisical server with W2K12 R2 Datacenter and install (on both) 2 roles:
    – Failover Clustering
    – Hyper-V

    Then I need to create and make online about 10 VM (all W2K12 R2 Datacenter and/or Standard)
    and I need to install, on each VM, some roles and applications.

    My target is to have a 2 nodes phisical cluster of hyper-v VMs.

    So, these are my questions:
    1) So what about the licensing for the phisical host ?
    2) Can I buy a volume licensing (for both the servers) or not ?
    3) And what can I do to activate all my VMs ?
    4) Is it possible to have a 3 node phisical cluster of hyper-v VMs ?
    5) Finally, are there any problems about the socket and the necessary license (in this moment I have no sufficient information about the phisical hardware)?

    Thank you.
    Carlo

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hi Eric,
    thank you for you article.

    I hope you can confirm my opinion about windows server 2012 R2 datacenter and licensing.

    I need to install 2 phisical server with W2K12 R2 Datacenter and install (on both) 2 roles:
    – Failover Clustering
    – Hyper-V

    Then I need to create and make online about 10 VM (all W2K12 R2 Datacenter and/or Standard)
    and I need to install, on each VM, some roles and applications.

    My target is to have a 2 nodes phisical cluster of hyper-v VMs.

    So, these are my questions:
    1) So what about the licensing for the phisical host ?
    2) Can I buy a volume licensing (for both the servers) or not ?
    3) And what can I do to activate all my VMs ?
    4) Is it possible to have a 3 node phisical cluster of hyper-v VMs ?
    5) Finally, are there any problems about the socket and the necessary license (in this moment I have no sufficient information about the phisical hardware)?

    Thank you.
    Carlo

  • Laurent says:

    Hello Eric,
    First, congratulation for all your posts ! They are very valuable and useful to have clear vision on hyper-v technology.
    I would have a question with Windows 2016 licensing rules changing from a per-processor model to a per-cores model.
    Do you know if the inviolable rule: “the licenses are bound to specific hardware. All of them” still apply with 2016 server licensing model, but instead of taking couple of CPU into account we should take couple of 8 cores of each server in consideration?
    As you said for 2012 R2 hyper-v cluster, you need to purchase licenses for the maximum number of guest that can run on each cluster physical host: “The rules don’t change for a cluster. Each host needs to have sufficient licenses to run the maximum number of virtual machines it can be realistically expected to ever run. So, if you have six guests in a two-node cluster, then you’re going to need three Standard licenses for each host, winding up at a total of six licenses.”
    With 2016 server (assuming that a 2016 standard edition cover 16 cores), if your two physical hosts that build the cluster are dual proc with 12 cores each (total of 24 cores by server), it is needed to license the physical servers with two 2016 Standard edition license plus a 8 cores additional license pack each, than you are allowed to run two guests on each physical host. After if you want to run six guests in the cluster you still need to license each node with two 2016 Standard edition by node. So finally at the end you would have to purchase the six 2016 Standard Edition license like with the 2012R2 version plus one additional 2016 Standard Edition license to be compliant because the pyhsical hosts have 24 cores each. Is it correct?

    I was told that, with the 2016 server version, once the hardware is properly licensed according to the total number of cores, there will be no license binding to the hardware for additional guests you want to run in the cluster. In other word you would have to purchase three standard licenses for your two physical hosts, then to run the additional guests (we still talk about six guest), you would have to purchase one additional 2016 standard license has the hardware binding rule would not be applicable anymore.
    I am very skeptical about this assumption but if it is actually true it would be good news…
    If you have any information about this potential rule change it would be very interesting.
    Best regards,
    Laurent.

    • Eric Siron says:

      — “Do you know if the inviolable rule: ‘the licenses are bound to specific hardware. All of them’ still apply with 2016 server licensing model, but instead of taking couple of CPU into account we should take couple of 8 cores of each server in consideration?”
      |-> Licenses will be sold at a ratio of 1 per every 8 cores, rounding up. A dual 8-core system will need two licenses. Licensing will still be hardware-based. I would be surprised if I live long enough to see that change.

      Your second paragraph is very confusing to me. The formula is: Standard Licenses = (# cores / 8) * (# of VMs / 2), rounding up at both division points or Datacenter Licenses = (# cores / 8) rounding up. Always calculate licenses by host. There is no cluster calculation. Common practice for small clusters is to just license every node for all virtual machines, but if you can convince an auditor that you’ll never run more than, say, 2/3s of all VMs on any given host then you can license for that.

      — “I was told that, with the 2016 server version, once the hardware is properly licensed according to the total number of cores, there will be no license binding to the hardware for additional guests you want to run in the cluster.”
      |-> At best, your informant is wrong. This sounds like a new variant of an old, persistent belief that once a key has been plugged into a virtual machine and it activates that it will be permanently licensed forever no matter where it goes. Keys are not licenses. If licensing worked that way, then I would gleefully buy a single Datacenter license and sell pre-activated Windows Server virtual machines at $10 a pop. The official PUR does not yet include Windows Server 2016 so I suppose there’s still a chance that it will change before release. But, seeing as how Microsoft went from per-processor to per-core because they felt like we weren’t giving them enough money, I can’t see them taking the gigantic revenue hit that would come from allowing VM portability off of a single source license.

  • Laurent says:

    Hello Eric,
    First, congratulation for all your posts ! They are very valuable and useful to have clear vision on hyper-v technology.
    I would have a question with Windows 2016 licensing rules changing from a per-processor model to a per-cores model.
    Do you know if the inviolable rule: “the licenses are bound to specific hardware. All of them” still apply with 2016 server licensing model, but instead of taking couple of CPU into account we should take couple of 8 cores of each server in consideration?
    As you said for 2012 R2 hyper-v cluster, you need to purchase licenses for the maximum number of guest that can run on each cluster physical host: “The rules don’t change for a cluster. Each host needs to have sufficient licenses to run the maximum number of virtual machines it can be realistically expected to ever run. So, if you have six guests in a two-node cluster, then you’re going to need three Standard licenses for each host, winding up at a total of six licenses.”
    With 2016 server (assuming that a 2016 standard edition cover 16 cores), if your two physical hosts that build the cluster are dual proc with 12 cores each (total of 24 cores by server), it is needed to license the physical servers with two 2016 Standard edition license plus a 8 cores additional license pack each, than you are allowed to run two guests on each physical host. After if you want to run six guests in the cluster you still need to license each node with two 2016 Standard edition by node. So finally at the end you would have to purchase the six 2016 Standard Edition license like with the 2012R2 version plus one additional 2016 Standard Edition license to be compliant because the pyhsical hosts have 24 cores each. Is it correct?

    I was told that, with the 2016 server version, once the hardware is properly licensed according to the total number of cores, there will be no license binding to the hardware for additional guests you want to run in the cluster. In other word you would have to purchase three standard licenses for your two physical hosts, then to run the additional guests (we still talk about six guest), you would have to purchase one additional 2016 standard license has the hardware binding rule would not be applicable anymore.
    I am very skeptical about this assumption but if it is actually true it would be good news…
    If you have any information about this potential rule change it would be very interesting.
    Best regards,
    Laurent.

  • Laurent says:

    Hello Eric,

    Thank you for the clarification, I was also very surprised that the rule about the guest license bounding with the hardware was removed in 2016 standard server release

    Anyway, my calculation was aslo completely wrong… I was assuming that a 2016 Standard edition license will cover 16 cores (before one 2012 r2 license was covering 2 CPU and Microsoft told us that they will consider one CPU will be replaced by 8 cores)…

    So one 2016 Standard edition will cover 8 cores? Correct ?

    So if I have two physicals server 24 cores each, the calculation to run 6 guests should be:

    (24/8) * (6/ 2) = 9

    It is actually 9 licenses per physical server… So at the end I need to purchase 18 licenses to be compliant with 2016 Standard edition OS version…

    It is much more comparing to the 2012R2 rules actually… Not good news indeed …

    • Eric Siron says:

      OK, I had to go find some more official documentation. My equation is very wrong, so ignore that.

      One license covers two cores. You must purchase licenses in 2-packs, so each purchase equals 4 cores. Each 2-core license can only be applied to one CPU. OK so far?
      Next, for every host, you must purchase a minimum of 8 licenses, which covers a dual 8-core host for a total of 16 cores. OK there? That is the absolute minimum that you can buy, and is where I accidentally got the 8x from.
      So, for a dual 12 core, you need 6 licenses per CPU per virtual machine pair.

      A more correct equation: 8 licenses OR ( ((# cores per CPU / 2) * number of CPUs) * (# VMs / 2)), whichever is greater, for Standard.
      In your case: ( ((12 / 2) * 2) * (6 / 2)) = 36 licenses.
      According to Microsoft, 8 of these two-core licenses for WS2016 will cost the same as a single Standard 2012 R2 license does today. So, for you, that’s about like buying 4.5 2012 R2 licenses per host, compared to the 3 licenses per host that you require under 2012 R2 rules.

      • Laurent says:

        Ok understood, thanks a lot for the correct explanation.

        Well it will be a challenge to explain this to some financial people I known but not impossible lol !

        At the end, for this scenario it is needed to pay the price of 9 former 2012r2 license where before you need to pay 6.

        You arrive to the same results if you consider that one former 2012r2 standard edition with sla will be transfered to a 16 cores 2016 license:
        (24/16) * (6/2)= 4.5 per 24 cores host..

        So 9 for two hosts…

        At the end it will increase the cost to migrate to 2016… unless you have old dual 8 cores hardware or less where it will cost the same. .. Not good news definitively !

  • Laurent says:

    Hello Eric,

    Thank you for the clarification, I was also very surprised that the rule about the guest license bounding with the hardware was removed in 2016 standard server release

    Anyway, my calculation was aslo completely wrong… I was assuming that a 2016 Standard edition license will cover 16 cores (before one 2012 r2 license was covering 2 CPU and Microsoft told us that they will consider one CPU will be replaced by 8 cores)…

    So one 2016 Standard edition will cover 8 cores? Correct ?

    So if I have two physicals server 24 cores each, the calculation to run 6 guests should be:

    (24/8) * (6/ 2) = 9

    It is actually 9 licenses per physical server… So at the end I need to purchase 18 licenses to be compliant with 2016 Standard edition OS version…

    It is much more comparing to the 2012R2 rules actually… Not good news indeed …

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hello Eric,
    I want 1 POSE with 4 VOSE with Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition, so I will buy 2 windows standard licenses. OK.

    But my question is, how can I add the second licenses to windows server ? I don’t know how to do that.

    Best regards,
    Carlo

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hello Eric,
    I want 1 POSE with 4 VOSE with Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard edition, so I will buy 2 windows standard licenses. OK.

    But my question is, how can I add the second licenses to windows server ? I don’t know how to do that.

    Best regards,
    Carlo

  • ssloh says:

    Can help with specific one question only. Thanks

    Windows 2012 R2 standard OS edition setup as Hyper-V host
    HP server OEM Windows OS key enter and phone activation license
    Created two virtual machine running Windows 2012R2 standard OS.

    What window key to use and how to activate this two virtual machine running on this Hyper-V host ?

    • Eric Siron says:

      I cannot help with key questions, especially OEM. The license seller controls key distribution and usage. Usually their support teams can’t help, so start with your sales rep to find the correct licensing contact.

  • ssloh says:

    Can help with specific one question only. Thanks

    Windows 2012 R2 standard OS edition setup as Hyper-V host
    HP server OEM Windows OS key enter and phone activation license
    Created two virtual machine running Windows 2012R2 standard OS.

    What window key to use and how to activate this two virtual machine running on this Hyper-V host ?

  • Javier says:

    Hi,
    I have one question.

    I have 4 licenses of Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter (2 processor) type license OEM served of contract ROK of Hardware for 4 servers.

    I have installed in the all machines the Hyper-V, and i have created 4 VM per Hyper-V with W2k12 R2 Datacenter and are licensed fine with AVMA.

    But i have per machine 4 VM too with W2k8 R2 Datacenter and these machines not accept the serial of the W2k12 R2 Datacenter, and the AVMA don’t work for w2k8 r2.

    How i can do to active the w2k8 r2 datacenter?, It’s necessary put other version, standard, enterprise…?
    It’s possible to activate or license machines with the w2k12 r2 datacenter for other lower versions how can it be w2k8 r2?

    Best regards

    • Eric Siron says:

      Only your license reseller can provide you with keys. Ask your sales staff for the downgrade keys to go with your 2012R2 license.

      • Javier says:

        Hi,
        I don’t understand, clarify me please.

        I have my machines with W2k12 R2 Datacenter installed and role Hyper-V.
        If i do the downgrade of the license. I lose the possibility of w2k12 r2 physical and create VM’s with w2k12 r2?

        Or have a license W2k12 R2 Datacenter, gives the right to request licenses W2k8 r2?

        Sorry for the inconvenience.

        Best Regards.

        • Eric Siron says:

          Your downgrade rights allow you to install 2008 R2 guests on your licensed 2012 R2 host. Whether or not your reseller will give you the keys that you need is up to them.

  • Javier says:

    Hi,
    I have one question.

    I have 4 licenses of Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter (2 processor) type license OEM served of contract ROK of Hardware for 4 servers.

    I have installed in the all machines the Hyper-V, and i have created 4 VM per Hyper-V with W2k12 R2 Datacenter and are licensed fine with AVMA.

    But i have per machine 4 VM too with W2k8 R2 Datacenter and these machines not accept the serial of the W2k12 R2 Datacenter, and the AVMA don’t work for w2k8 r2.

    How i can do to active the w2k8 r2 datacenter?, It’s necessary put other version, standard, enterprise…?
    It’s possible to activate or license machines with the w2k12 r2 datacenter for other lower versions how can it be w2k8 r2?

    Best regards

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hi Eric,
    that you for your articles. They are very, very, interesting.
    Now, I have a doubt and I hope you can help me to understand it.

    I installed Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition and activate windows using our VL key.
    The host has two physical processor. No problem.

    Now with only Hyper-V role installed, I can create and activate two VMs (with the same operative system used on the host) using the same product key because I have two “virtualization rights”.

    So I installed Hyper-V and created a Windows Server 2012 R2 Std. Ed. VM and I activated it.
    Next I installed all the necessary software I need on it.

    At this point, I sysprepped and shutdown the VM.
    Next I exported the VM (using Hyper-V Manager) and imported it on another physical server (same hardware) with Windows Server 2012 R2 Std. Ed. that I have installed and activated using the same VL key.

    I was very surprised when I imported the VM on this second server and, after the initial configuration steps due to: language, administrator password, etc, etc, I started the VM and this was already activated.

    Is this correct? Why, after the sysprep operation, isn’t necessary to activate this vm?
    Is this due to the product key I used (I mean the VL key)?

    This type of VMs don’t increment the total number of keys (VL keys) used, right?
    I mean, in this scenario, I have used ONLY two times the VL key, right? Only when I have activated the two physical server and not for the two VMs?

    Is this correct?

    Thank you.

    • Eric Siron says:

      Activation is not something that I work with a great deal so I’m not going to have a lot of information for you. I normally work with KMS systems, not MAK.
      Personally, I would not sysprep a machine with an activated MAK. Use slmgr /upk before sysprepping.
      If the VM didn’t activate with that key, it will eventually do so. You’ll see the activation count increment in your volume licensing portal, assuming that Microsoft has retained that functionality. You can change the license key at any time, if you wish, but it doesn’t really matter.
      Activation count is not linked to license usage. It’s just a software mechanism that Microsoft uses to crack down on people sharing their keys. The auditors that can fine you for non-compliance are going to look at what you purchased and what you deployed. Product keys and activation counts don’t interest them much.

  • Carlo Ponti says:

    Hi Eric,
    that you for your articles. They are very, very, interesting.
    Now, I have a doubt and I hope you can help me to understand it.

    I installed Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition and activate windows using our VL key.
    The host has two physical processor. No problem.

    Now with only Hyper-V role installed, I can create and activate two VMs (with the same operative system used on the host) using the same product key because I have two “virtualization rights”.

    So I installed Hyper-V and created a Windows Server 2012 R2 Std. Ed. VM and I activated it.
    Next I installed all the necessary software I need on it.

    At this point, I sysprepped and shutdown the VM.
    Next I exported the VM (using Hyper-V Manager) and imported it on another physical server (same hardware) with Windows Server 2012 R2 Std. Ed. that I have installed and activated using the same VL key.

    I was very surprised when I imported the VM on this second server and, after the initial configuration steps due to: language, administrator password, etc, etc, I started the VM and this was already activated.

    Is this correct? Why, after the sysprep operation, isn’t necessary to activate this vm?
    Is this due to the product key I used (I mean the VL key)?

    This type of VMs don’t increment the total number of keys (VL keys) used, right?
    I mean, in this scenario, I have used ONLY two times the VL key, right? Only when I have activated the two physical server and not for the two VMs?

    Is this correct?

    Thank you.

  • Rahul M says:

    Hi Eric,

    Above posts is very helpful and informational indeed. But still I am not able to understand one point – “You are never required to install the licensed physical operating system environment in order to take advantage of its guest virtualization rights. In fact, you can install any hypervisor you want”. I understood this point but I have below query.

    If I have 5 physical servers with 4 CPUs each and I install VMware on each physical server. So, I will require 10 Quantities of Windows Data Center licenses , so as to create unlimited Windows 2012 R2 STD. or DC guest OS on these hosts. Up to here, I am correct. (Rite !!)

    Later, when I will activate these VMs with their product keys then this will do the activation of these VMs. And you says that Licenses and Activation are separate things. You also says that a Windows Server license is always bound to a specific piece or group of hardware. (this hardware must be CPU in this case rite)

    So, where and how exactly the 10 Quantities of Windows Data Center licenses are getting verified here ? How would hardware determine that I have 10 Qty. of Win DC licenses purchased because of which I am able to create any number of Guest VM instances of Windows STd of DC ?

    Because, when I will do the activation with product key on guest OS , activation keys have no way of checking number of processors on the server and activation will not consume any licenses. So, I am confused that how these 10 Qty. of DC licenses will be consumed and justified ?

    Kindly help and clarify this doubt.

    • Eric Siron says:

      Your licensing understanding is fine.
      I try to stay away from activation questions because that’s a different game. Activation is like the lock on your front door — it stops casual theft and people that just made a mistake. If thieves are serious, they’re just going to come through a window. Or a wall, if they’re really serious. Microsoft uses lawyers and courts, not activation reports, when they go after anyone for license violations. You’ve done the important part of satisfying the licensing requirements. For activation, your only goal is to make the mechanism happy.
      As much as you’ve got going on, I would stand up a KMS system and be done with it. There is absolutely no way I would even attempt to micro-manage licensing in your environment by plugging in MAKs everywhere. If you must use MAKs, then every time you plug one in, it just decrements your available count at the license center. If you run out, then you’ll need to call the clearing house, play 20 questions, and get your count increased.
      Activation does not truly track whether or not you are in compliance. Microsoft doesn’t use it for that purpose and neither should you.

  • Mike S says:

    Hi Eric,

    I could not find the answer to this simple question – is it licensed to run Server 2012R2 under Server 2012 Datacenter (not R2)?

    Thanks!

    • Eric Siron says:

      For licensing, it does not matter what the management operating system/hypervisor is. The only question that matters is if you have purchased a license with an available guest virtualization right for 2012R2. If you are asking me if your 2012 license covers 2012 R2, then no. Not unless the 2012 license included Software Assurance that was still active when 2012 R2 released.

  • Mike S says:

    We’ve purchased three 2012 Datacenter licenses to create a Hyper-V failover cluster. There was no R2 available at the time and the licenses were described by Microsoft (Dell) rep as “allowing to run any number of VMs with any Microsoft OS”.
    So, I guess, that was not exactly true to put it mildly.

    No software assurance. Why would you need it when you are offered unlimited everything?

    • Eric Siron says:

      Maybe because the license doesn’t cover unlimited everything? Why would Microsoft offer Software Assurance if there was no value-add?
      Either your rep lied to you or you misunderstood what he said. Licenses come with downgrade rights so, with Datacenter Edition, you are licensed “to run any number of VMs with any [current or still-supported older] Microsoft [Server] OS”. No Microsoft license has ever covered future or pre-release product versions. When you buy any Microsoft license, you get what is current on that date and nothing later. The only way to get upgrade rights is via Software Assurance or a new purchase.

  • David Rutz says:

    Informative post, and even with all the replies, I didn’t find a good answer.

    We currently have 2 main physical machine hosts (no other roles, only Hyper-V)

    Host 1 – W2kr2 Std – 4 Active VM’s ( require 2 licenses – 1 for Host and 2-VM’s, and 2nd for other two VM’s) (the VM OS’s are separately licensed)

    Host 2 – W2kr2 Std – 2 Active VM’s (requires only 1 license – 1 for Host and 2 VM’s) but also on Host 2 is Powered-off Failover replicas of the VM’s from Host 1. They are for DR only, not live failover.

    Do we need 2 (or more if we add more failover VM’s) “more” licenses to cover the powered-off Failover VM’s used for DR? In our environment we wouldn’t be powering on any of the Failover Replicas at the same time as the original – and then fallback once the crashed hardware were fixed/replaced.

  • Wei Ming says:

    I have different hardware for Windows 2012 R2 server that are running hyper-v
    1 2012R2 server have 2 vm and 1 of it running linux.
    does this also use a license ?
    2nd server running 1 VM
    if i am going to transfer this linux vm to another server does the license also transfer over or it will take up another new license?

    thank you for your reply

  • Mike Z says:

    Great info, but I hope you can clarify some info on running in a HA environment. I am trying to understand this bit of information pointed out to me from a MS brief:
    regardless of whether the workloads are running in physical or virtual OSEs, each server must have the appropriate number of licenses assigned to it prior to the workload running on it. This holds true regardless of whether you plan the workload to:
     Always run on a single server.
     Run in parallel on the server as a backup when the primary server fails.
     Run the workload if the primary server is down.
     Load balance when the primary server has high use.
     Only run the workload during maintenance.

    I am led to believe from that, for example, if you have 2 physical servers running in a cluster with 10VMs on each, you actually need to have 40 licenses in (20 for each physical host) , assuming there are no Datacenter licenses involved. Am I understanding that correctly?

    • Eric Siron says:

      The fourth bullet point in the bottom section addresses clusters. That said, not sure where you get 20 or 40 from. Your scenario calls for 5×2 licenses by my count, if you’re talking 12/R2.

  • Mike Z says:

    I probably should have said each physical host has to have enough licenses to cover the 20 VMs (10 running on each physical host) so basically 2x the number of licenses, regardless of where the VMs are running. Does that make sense?
    I thought all the bullet points addressed a cluster, regardless of how you used it. The “prior to the workload running on it” piece is really what I am concerned with.

    • Eric Siron says:

      They say, “prior to the workload running on it”, I say, “needs to have sufficient licenses to run the maximum number of virtual machines it can be realistically expected to ever run”. They convey roughly the same meaning, don’t they? Mine is wordier and doesn’t quite leave the door open to buying licenses later if you are going to add VMs, but theirs does. In that regard, their wording is more accurate. At the moment that you go into production, every host in a cluster needs enough licenses to run the maximum number of Windows Server VMs that it might ever host. To use an extreme example, you wouldn’t need to license each host in a 64-node cluster to run all 1,000 VMs separately if it’s not possible for any single host to run 1,000 VMs. You would calculate the maximum that a node could possibly run and license for that number. Of course, Datacenter licensing usually makes sense long before you get to that distinction. Most sites will license each node to run all VMs or choose Datacenter for each node.

  • Mike Z says:

    I do like your interpretation better. We are still in the “in-between” stage where DC makes sense, so I appreciate your feedback in trying to figure it out.

  • Marc says:

    This is all good when persons refer to MOSE as VM guests. I am interested to know if VOSE is not Microsoft eg – If I install Windows 2012 Standard on a host and have 5 Linux ESXi VMs running on the server, do I need to purchase 2 more Micrsoft Ser4ver 2012 licenses to facilitate 5 linux VMs ?

  • Leander van Gorsel says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you very much for your articles and all replies!

    I’m currently setting up this environment:

    HV1 = host1 on 1 CPU server with two license of 2016 Std. (for 4 VM’s).
    HV2 = host2 on 1 CPU server with it’s own license of 2016 Std. (for 2 VM’s).
    HV3 = host3 on 1 CPU server with it’s own license of 2016 Std. (for 2 VM’s).

    (On all three hosts only the Hyper-V role is installed. And all four licenses have SA.)

    One SAN attached to all three hosts with MPIO.

    LUN1 -> VM1 on SAN
    LUN2 -> VM2 on SAN
    LUN3 -> VM3 on SAN
    LUN4 -> VM4 on SAN
    LUN5 -> Data disk for VM3 (2TB) on SAN
    LUN6 -> Data disk for VM4 (1,5 TB) on SAN
    LUN7 -> VM5 on SAN
    LUN8 -> VM6 on SAN

    HV1 has discovered LUN 1-4 (with on it installed it’s own VM) and LUN5 and 6 for data.
    HV2 has discovered LUN7 and 8 (with on it installed it’s own VM).
    HV3 has discovered LUN 1-8, but all disks are offline.

    HV1 it the main Host for running VM1 through VM4, so I bring six disks online to be able to import VM1 – 4 in the Hyper-V manager. All four VM’s are running, and VM3 also is using LUN5 as data disk, and VM4 is using LUN6 as data disk.
    HV2 is the main Host for running VM5 and VM6, both VM’s are running.

    HV3 is a backup host. In the Hyper-V manager I’ve imported VM1 through VM6. After importing the VM’s they are not running and all discovered disks (LUNS) are set offline.

    In case of HV2 shuts down, I want to bring LUN7 and LUN8 online on HV3 and startup VM5 and VM6 on HV3.
    In case of HV1 shuts down, I want to bring up LUN3 through LUN6 online (2 VM disks and 2 data disks) and startup VM3 and VM4.
    VM1 and VM2 are less important in case of a temporary fail of HV1.

    I’m confused if this is legible. I read in your post (first hit on ctrl f replica) when I use replication (and create VM7 as replica for VM1, VM8 as replica for VM2 and so on) HV3 even don’t need it’s own license for two VM’s, because it’s covered by the SA on the licenses for HV1 and HV2.

    I hope you can tell me what to do:

    1a.) use it as described: HV3 has 6 VM’s imported but all turned off. in case of failure of HV2, VM5&6 are turned on, in case of failure of HV1, VM3&4 are turned on.
    1b.) use it as described: but only the LUNS are discovered by HV3 all six VM’s are not imported yet on HV3. in case of failure of HV2, I set disk7 and disk8 online and import VM5&6 into the Hyper-V manager and then they are turned on. After repairing HV1 I remove VM5 and VM6 from the Hyper-V manager, bring disk 7 and 8 offline. In case of failure of HV1, disks 3 through 6 are set online and VM3&4 are imported and turned on.

    2.) use Hyper-V replica and create VM7 through VM12 on HV3.
    3.) use Live Migration to move VM5&6 from HV1 to HV3 or move VM3&4 from HV2 to HV3. (in case of failure live migration isn’t an option…)

    4.) If the 1st option is for me the one to choose, will there be any trouble if HV1 shutdown unexpectedly and I want to start VM3 (with LUN5 for the data vhdx) and VM4 (with LUN6 for the data vhdx)?
    5.) If the 2nd option is for me the one to choose, can I replicate VM3 to HV3 (without LUN5 for saving storage space on HV3) and replicate VM4 to HV3 (without LUN6 for saving storage space on HV3)? Will I be able to attach the vhdx file from LUN5 to VM7 (as it is the replica of VM3) and attach the vhdx file from LUN6 to VM8 (as it is the replica of VM4)?

    I’m looking forward to your response.

    Kind regards,
    Leander van Gorsel

    • Eric Siron says:

      That’s excessively over-architected. Why use storage pools if you have a SAN? And I don’t really understand your angle with backup hosts. I’ve seen builds of 250 VMs that are simpler than what you have. That looks like a management nightmare.
      I hope that you’ve talked to your reseller about 2016 licensing. Two 2016 licenses don’t get you anywhere at all. Were they SA from 2012 licenses?
      If you’ve got three hosts, six VMs, and one SAN, all in one site, then replica is pointless. And what’s this about import/export? I don’t understand what you’re going to accomplish with all of that.
      A couple of LUNs and a failover cluster is what this calls for. Backup that can be transported offsite is what you need, not replica. If you want replica, take one of those hosts offsite, find a storage unit for it, and replicate that way.

      • Leander van Gorsel says:

        Hi Eric,

        I understand this is over-architected. The company where I’m setting up this config already has 4 physical servers. One of them is going to be replaced for a new one (HV1). First my thought was to setup a cluster with the new host and one of the older servers. But then I miscounted the double license costs (each host needs enough licenses to run all VM’s), and also the amount of RAM necessary on the old server should be enough to run all VM’s on it.

        With the four licenses I meant 32*9EM-00301 in total 64 licenses, enough for three 1CPU servers with on one server 2 licenses stacked, so it can hosts 4 VM’s.

        That’s the reason to use both Hosts not clustered (for now. When the 2nd server will be replaced HV1 and HV2 will be setup in a clustered environment). That’s also the reason for me to use the third host as backup in case of a failure of one of the primary hosts. The third host is available, has licenses to hosts 2 VM’s and has enough ressources to run 2 VM’s.

        From your response I understand not to use the storagepool function of Server 2016, because the SAN is dealing with that. What isn’t clear to me is why it’s pointless using 3 hosts and one SAN and replica in the same site. Is it because the third host can startup the VMs of HV1 and HV2?
        Microsoft told me that I couldn’t run VM1 through VM6 on HV3 in case of HV1 or HV2 should have a failure. Only once in 90 days it would be in compliance to do that.
        That’s the reason I was thinking to replicate the VM’s to HV3, but it isn’t my first choice.
        I just can’t figure it out if it would be legible to map the LUNS from the SAN also to HV3 and start VM 3, 4, 5 or 6 from HV3 (only in case of failure or perhaps in case of reconfiguration of HV1 or HV2).

        With import I meant to import the VM in the Hyper-V manager from the VMCX / VMRS file which defines the VMs, created on HV1 or HV2.

        I hope this makes it a bit more clear and although it isn’t the most suitable solution I would like to know if it will be legible and if it will be working…

        • Eric Siron says:

          I will trust that you have validated your license count with a credentialed specialist. That math looks strange to me, but I’m not the one who will be slapped with a fine.
          Still not making any sense to me why there are so many LUNs. Also not understanding why a company would drop the money for that many hosts and a SAN but then balk at a few thousand dollars for licensing.
          Replica is for disaster recovery. If all of your hosts live in the same site and use the same SAN, then the list of disasters that you are protected from is very short. It’s a lot of effort and overhead with next to zero payout.
          If you can’t cluster the VMs over a few hundred dollars, then you’re better to just leave the third host off and connect it to the necessary LUNs if a host fails. The 90 day rule is waived in the event of hardware failure. But it’s still better to cluster.

          But this whole thing is ridiculously over-architected. Yeah, it will work, but whatever they think they’re saving in licensing fees will be lost in administrative effort. I’m already at the point where I would need to start charging my own consultancy rates even to think about this build anymore. And it’s only 6 VMs.

  • Nat Din says:

    Hi Eric,

    According to your ebook, for Windows Server 2016: “A single license is applied to two CPU cores in the same physical host”.

    It confuses me because it contradicts with what Microsoft said in their licensing guide and example (WindowsServer2016-Licensing-Guide.pdf): “the number of core licenses required equals the number of physical cores on the licensed server”, i.e. one license one core (not two cores as you said).

    This guide can be downloaded from Microsoft site. I hope you could spare some time to check it.

    Many thanks for the guides on Hyper-V. They’re really, really great.

    Nat,

    • Eric Siron says:

      I’ll have to re-read that section to be sure. I would have meant that a license pack applies to two cores. You cannot buy an individual license for a single core.

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