Licensing rejig and standard price rises set for Windows Server 2016

Be afraid, very afraid

Microsoft stands accused of forcing customers to migrate to cloud services by introducing new licensing terms and raising prices for hosted Windows Server 2016, which could see monthly costs more than doubling.

When Microsoft launched WS16 last autumn, it shifted from licensing per CPU to licensing per core for the Standard and Datacenter editions. All physical cores on the server must be licensed, with a minimum of eight core licences per physical processor and a minimum of 16 core licences per server.

Core licences are sold in packs of two, and two eight-core packs are the minimum required to license each physical server, Microsoft confirmed in its Ts&Cs.

But according to hosting firms that sell Service Provider Licensing Agreements (SPLA), all other editions of WS16 will be licensed in the same way from January 2019.

This will "work out [as] considerably more expensive", a source told El Reg. This comment was based on modelling the impact caused by the licence revamp on the two editions of WS16.

For example, a customer paying for WS16 would have paid £77.26 per-CPU licence under the previous model. Two hosts on Datacenter edition licensing allows for an unlimited number of VMs to be hosted, and using one processor each would cost £154.52. Six physical servers on Standard edition licensing using hex-core CPUs would cost £66.78.

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On the new core-based licensing introduced with WS16, the price changed to £19.31/two cores (minimum of 8/processors and 16/server). Two hosts on Datacenter edition licensing allows for an unlimited number of VMs and using one processor in each would cost £308.96 (32 cores). Six physical servers on Standard edition licensing using hex-core CPUs costs £133.44 (96 cores).

On top of accounting for the licensing shift due on January 1, 2019, Microsoft is also pushing through an up to 10 per cent price increase impacting Windows Remote Desktop Services SAL, Windows Server Standard and Datacenter and Windows Server Essentials software.

The Core Infrastructure Server Suite Standard and Datacenter flavours will rise by 5 and 7 per cent respectively, and the SQL Server Standard Core and the Enterprise Core will jump by 10 per cent, as will the SQL Server Web Edition and Standard Edition SAL.

The prices are subject to change, a Microsoft document detailing the rises – seen by us – stated.

"Microsoft is pushing cloud-based computing by reorganising pricing models and encouraging users to move towards a data centre or cloud-based environment," said one hosting firm that asked to remain anonymous.

"I'd argue this is being done at significant cost to business owners and any users requiring high compute power. Business owners are being forced to undertake potentially disruptive migrations, and may even have to re-design solutions, to avoid being hit by unreasonable price hikes," the source added.

El Reg revealed this week that SPLA prices are already set to rise from the start of 2018 but it looks like a potentially more painful series of changes will land in the following year.

The Register has asked Microsoft to comment and will update the article when we hear back. ®

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