I had the pleasure of attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Canada earlier this month and worldwide it was as 16,000 attendees squeezed into the Air Canada Center for Microsoft’s morning key note speeches. That’s the most that arena has seen inside its snug confines since Vince Carter was dunking on opposing players, or I guess when Vince Carter could dunk period. It was a week where Microsoft spent making some big announcements, covered some important changes and showcased some new products “Eh.”
The first major announcement was Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud solution which later this year will be available for purchase under the Open Licensing Program. Office 365 was released last summer and has been solely available for customers to purchase online, although partners like GreenPages would assist with quoting the subscription, ultimately customers would purchase the monthly subscription directly from Microsoft, which can be a little painstaking and nevertheless confusing (like this sentence is). Now with the announcement that Office 365 will be available through volume licensing, we’ll be able to invoice the customer directly like we would with an on-premise product, making the process much simpler for you. Now you’ll have another avenue to purchase the subscription. Most likely it will be available through the Open Value program and details are still being ironed out, so be on the lookout as we’ll provide the latest information as to when this will be available through volume licensing.
The other news is the announcement of Windows 8 set to be released to manufacturing in August and general availability in October. Microsoft is very excited about this new release as they said it is the most anticipated release they’ve had since XP. They showcased some pretty nifty touchscreen laptops with Windows 8 Professional loaded on which, I would have loved to bring back to the States, and I would have, assuming the Royal Canadian Mounted Police didn’t finally catch up with me at the Boarder.
The biggest news is the upcoming release of Windows 2012 which is scheduled for General Availability in early September and will offer new enhancements centered around Hyper-V. Along with the new features there are some major licensing changes, loss of an edition (nice knowing you Enterprise) and upgrade paths if you have current Software Assurance.
The first change with Windows 2012 is it will move to a more consistent licensing model and each edition will have the same exact common features, however the editions have been reduced. With Windows 2012 there will only be two editions: Standard and Datacenter. Windows Enterprise, on the other hand, has been cut from the team and will not be at training camp when Windows 2012 debuts. So you’re probably wondering, if Standard and Datacenter have the exact same features and can perform the same tasks than what is the difference between the two? It’s all in the licensing, but before we get into the licensing, let’s check out the new features in Windows 2012 Standard edition which previously were only available in the premium editions.
Both Windows Standard and Datacenter will include these features among others.
-Windows Server Failover Clustering
-BranchCache Hosted Chache Server
-Active Directory Federated Services
-Additional Active Directory Certificate Services capabilities
-Distributed File Services
-DRS-R Cross-File Replication
Along with the new features there is a new licensing model for Windows 2012. Both Windows 2012 Standard and Datacenter will now be licensed by the processor and the days of per server licensing are now gone and the biggest reason for that is virtualization. What differentiates the two editions is the number of Virtual Machines (VMs) that are entitled to be run with each edition. A Standard edition license will entitle you to run up to two VMs on up to two processors. A Datacenter edition license will entitle you to run an unlimited number of VMs on up to two processors. Each license of Standard and Datacenter will cover two processors so for example if you have a quad-processor host, you would purchase 2 x Two-Processor licenses. The Two-Processor license cannot be split up, meaning you can’t put one processor license on one server and the other processor license on another, nor can you combine a Standard and Datacenter license on the same host. The processor license does not include Cals. Windows Cals would still have to be purchased separately.
Ok, now that I have dropped this knowledge on you, what should you expect moving forward? Let’s talk about pricing and what this new model is going to cost you. A Two-Processor license of Datacenter will retail for $4,809, which breaks down to $2,405 a CPU. The current retail price for Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter per Processor license is $2,405 so nothing has changed there. For Windows 2012 Standard, a Two-Processor license retails for $882. For those of you who were accustomed to purchasing Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise for $2,358 MSRP so you could use the 4-VMs that came with it will notice that the price to get 4-VMs of Windows 2012 (2 x Two-Processor Windows 2012 Standard = $1,764) is actually going to be less than what Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise costs. The issue will be for those who need Windows Standard for a physical server. Since there is no Windows 2012 license for physical servers, you’ll have to purchase the Two-Processor license. Currently, Windows 2008 R2 Standard edition runs for $726 retail so you will be paying more to use Windows on physical servers.
Once Windows 2012 is released, you’ll still be able to use prior versions, which is known as downgrade rights. Windows 2012 Datacenter edition can downgrade to any prior version or lower edition. Windows 2012 Standard edition gives you rights to downgrade to any prior version of Standard or Enterprise edition.
In addition, if you have current Software Assurance (SA) on your Windows 2008 R2 license you are entitled to Windows 2012. If you have Software Assurance on Datacenter edition you will be entitled to Windows 2012 Datacenter edition. Today Datacenter edition covers 1 processor and Datacenter 2012 license with cover 2 processors, so for every two current Datacenter licenses with Software Assurance, you will receive one Windows 2012 Datacenter edition license. If you have Software Assurance on Enterprise edition, you will be entitled to receive 2 x Two-Processor Standard 2012 edition licenses, that way you still have coverage of 4-VMs. Lastly, if you have Software Assurance on Standard edition you’ll receive one Windows 2012 Standard edition license for each Standard edition license you own.
As you’re taking this news in, there are a few things I’d recommend considering. The first of which is if you’re looking to purchase Windows over the next couple of months prior to Windows 2012’s release, you should look at purchasing it with Software Assurance because that will give you new versions rights to Windows 2012 once it’s ships. Keep in mind you don’t have to load Windows 2012 right away, but by having Software Assurance it will give you access when you decide to. Also, there may be instances where you need to add VMs to your host, specifically those running Windows Standard and the only way to add more VMs is to purchase additional Windows Standard licenses. Secondly, if you think you’ll be adding a substantial amount of VMs in the future, but don’t want to invest in Datacenter today, what you can do is purchase Windows Standard with Software Assurance through these participating license programs: Open Value, Select and Enterprise Agreement and by doing so you will be eligible to “Step-Up” your Standard License to Datacenter. Step-Up is Microsoft’s term for an upgrade. This Step-Up license will allow you to upgrade from your Standard edition license to Datacenter edition, thus providing you unlimited VMs on that host. Again the Standard license would have to have current Software Assurance and be purchased through the aforementioned licensing programs.
Obviously this is big news and will create many more questions and we’re here to assist and guide you through the purchase process so feel free to reach out to your GreenPages Account Executive for more details.