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Windows Server Editions for Virtualization

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Windows Server Editions for Virtualization

Determining Which Edition of Windows Server Is Most Cost-effective

The most cost-effective edition of Windows Server for your virtualization needs depends on the number of instances per processor that will run on the server. (Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Datacenter may provide additional flexibility to add instances and have clustering and other functionality not available in Windows Server 2008 Standard.)

Standard is the most cost-effective if you want to run up to three simultaneous instances in a virtual OSE on the server.
Enterprise is most cost-effective if you want to run four simultaneous instances in a virtual OSE per processor. Enterprise is licensed by server, not per processor, but more than one Enterprise license may be assigned to a server to have the rights to run more than four instances of Windows Server. For example, one license for Enterprise for a one-processor server running four instances of Windows Server in a virtual OSE is slightly less expensive than one Datacenter processor license. In addition, two licenses for Enterprise for a two-processor server running eight instances of Windows Server in a virtual OSE is slightly less expensive than two processor licenses for Datacenter.
Datacenter is most cost-effective for running more than four instances per processor. At four instances per processor, Datacenter is slightly more expensive than Enterprise, but provides room to add instances in a virtual OSE on the server at no additional cost. The flexibility gained from “unlimited” virtualization rights reduces concern of licensing compliance.


The illustration is based on Open agreement Estimated Retail Prices in the United States and compares the license requirements and estimated cost for instances of Windows Server running in virtual OSEs in four server configurations.

The Windows Server Virtualization Calculator is a tool that can help you determine the number of Windows Server licenses and estimated cost by edition (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter) for your virtualization scenarios to find the most cost-effective edition.

The prices in the examples are in U.S. dollars and represent an estimated retail price on March 1, 2008, for Open Business Agreements. The prices shown do not include any applicable taxes. Any amounts should not be considered as a commercial proposal or offer from Microsoft. Microsoft provides this material solely for informational purposes and actual prices and payment terms may vary. Prices for licenses acquired through Microsoft resellers are determined by the reseller.

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