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In scenarios involving modest virtualization workloads, customers are likely to find it less expensive to license Windows Server 2012 than Windows Server 2008 R2. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2012 will be available in two general purpose editions, Standard and Datacenter, rather than three (Enterprise edition has been eliminated). Standard and Datacenter editions will have the same technical capabilities and be licensed by the same paired processor model. The only differences between the editions will be virtualization use rights and license price, with Datacenter retaining the same effective price and the same unlimited virtualization rights as its predecessor and Standard edition increasing in price around 20% but receiving improved virtualization rights.

Four scenarios illustrate the impact of the elimination of Windows Server Enterprise edition.

The first scenario involves licensing a single processor server for file and print workloads with no virtual machines (VMs). With Windows Server (WS) 2008 R2, a customer would likely have used Standard. With WS 2012, it would still use Standard. A customer would pay US$156 more to use WS 2012 Standard on the server than WS 2008 R2 Standard. (Prices are U.S. Open License, which are generally the highest prices U.S. volume licensing customers would pay.)

If a customer had chosen to use Enterprise in this scenario, perhaps so that the server could also handle additional workloads such as a large volume of remote access connections, they would now use WS 2012 Standard edition and pay US$1,476 less to use WS 2012 Standard than WS 2008 R2 Enterprise.

In the second scenario, the server is dedicated to a nonvirtualized heavy-duty processing load, such as a database management system, so it has four processors. Typically, a server with this workload would have used WS 2008 R2 Enterprise edition for its large memory support. Now, it will need two WS 2012 Standard licenses to cover four processors. Even with two WS 2012 Standard edition licenses, the organization will save money.

In the third scenario, the server is used to run two VMs on two physical processors. Previously, such a server would likely have been licensed with two WS2008 R2 Standard licenses or one WS 2008 R2 Enterprise edition license. A single WS 2012 Standard edition license will now suffice, resulting in savings.

Finally, the fourth scenario estimates the costs of a four-processor server running four VMs. Previously, this might have been licensed by stacking four WS 2008 R2 Standard edition licenses or one WS 2008 R2 Enterprise license. Now, it only requires two WS 2012 Standard edition licenses. Here the savings will vary based on which license the organization was using, but costs will generally be lower.