HPE OEM Microsoft Windows Server FAQ Series- Part 5: Core-Based Licensing


Windows Server logo.jpgDid you know that Windows Server 2016 was introduced with a licensing structure that differs from past version of Windows Server? Whether we’re talking to people who already know this fact, or people who are learning this fact for the very first time, we hear a lot of questions about Windows Server 2016’s licensing structure. Read on to see most frequently asked questions we hear about Windows Server 2016’s licensing structure.

1. How has licensing changed with Windows Server 2016?
The licensing structure for Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter editions has shifted from processor-based (processor + Client Access Licenses (CALs)) to physical core-based (cores + CALs). This aligns the licensing of private and public cloud environments to a consistent currency and simplifies licensing across multi-cloud infrastructures.

Windows Server 2016 customers who are licensing servers with up to two processors and eight cores or less per processor will pay approximately the same as they did when licensing Windows Server 2012 R2 based on the two-processor licensing model. The Standard edition of Windows Server 2016 licenses up to two Virtual Machines (VMs) or two Hyper-V containers when all of the physical cores on the server are licensed. For more specifics on core-based licensing, see the HPE Windows Server 2016 licensing datasheet.


Licensing model

CAL requirement

Windows Server 2016 Datacenter


Windows Server CAL

Windows Server 2016 Standard


Windows Server CAL

Windows Server 2016 Essentials


No CAL required

Windows Server 2016 Essentials edition continues with the processor-based licensing for platforms with up to two processors and a maximum of 25 users or 50 devices. No Windows Server Client Access Licenses (CALs) are required. 

2. How are core licenses sold?
Windows Server 2016 Base Licenses are available from HPE for sixteen cores, which is the minimum number of cores required to license one physical server, including single-processor servers. HPE offers additional licenses in packs of two, four, and sixteen cores, for both Standard and Datacenter Editions.
- Datacenter Edition provides rights to unlimited virtual Operating System Environments (OSEs) when all physical cores on a server are licensed.
- Standard Edition provides rights for up to two virtual OSEs when all physical cores on a server are licensed. For every two additional VMs, all the physical cores in the server must be licensed again.


3. If cores are disabled from Windows Server 2016 use do I still need to license the cores?
Physical cores that are disabled for use by an operating system (OS) do not need to be licensed. For example, if eight cores in a server with 32 cores are disabled, and not available for operating system use, only 24 cores would need to be licensed. This exemption does not reduce the minimum number of core licenses required.


4. How do I calculate the number of Windows Server 2016 licenses I need for a server solution?
Hewlett Packard Enterprise has available a Windows Server 2016 Core Licensing Calculator online tool to help you easily identify how many Windows Server 2016 core licenses are required to properly license an HPE ProLiant Server, for this go to:


Bonus: Catch up with all of our past HPE OEM Microsoft Windows Server FAQ Blogs:
Part 1: Licensing Overview
Part 2: OEM Licensing Basics
Part 3: Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
Part 4: Windows Server 2016 Basics

Have additional questions about HPE OEM Microsoft Windows Server? You can learn more on our blog: Then, be sure to join our social communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

0 Kudos
About the Author


Willa manages the HPE | Microsoft Coffee Coaching program. Follow along to learn more about the latest HPE OEM Microsoft product releases and how the HPE Microsoft partnership can benefit partners and customers.