Windows Server 2016 licensing.

jorge diaz
jorge diaz used Ask the Experts™
Hi there,

We're deploying a few Windows server 2016 in an new environment. The first server is AD, dhcp, dns, and i'm considering use it to authenticate 3 remote users. We purchased windows server 2016 standard, I was under the impression that it comes with 25 user cals but apparently it does not. We'll be adding another server for 5 users to run an application from. Question, do i need user cals? the person i bought the server software from told me licensing is now based on cpu cores.. Also, if i were to need user cals. I assume  i only get one set even though I'll have two servers in AD, right?

any help on this licensing thing is greatly appreciated.
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Distinguished Expert 2018
First, I always put this disclaimer. But I also sincerely believe it...enough that I am often tempted to avoid answering questions like this...

The disclaimer: Taking *licensing* advice from the internet is a bad idea. If you follow bad advice, "A guy on the internet" doesn't get you off the hook. And the fines can be horrendous.  If you call the vendor, they can set you up directly or with a reputable partner.  In Microsoft's case, you could have avoided this issue. And calling them now can still avoid "bad advice" issues later.

2016 is licensed per core for the server *AND* still has CALs.  This may seem like a gouge, but it isn't much different than before. 2012 R2 was per processor (1 license for every 2 processors actually) *and* per CAL.  And going back farther, older OSes were also the similar. The rules change a bit, but the overall concept has been the same for over a decade. 2016 isn't drastically different.

You license the server by the number of processors and cores. That entitles you to one or more VMs as well. And then you license who connects to that server by user or device CALs.  So yes, you still need CALs.

Windows User CALs entitle one physical user to connect to as many windows servers of that version or older as the organization owns. So no, you don't buy a user 2 CALs for 2 servers. Just 1.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

What Cliff said!
that confirms my what i had and in mind and settles it..


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