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OEM Licensing: A closer look at CALs, Downgrades, and Virtualization


We have covered many different topics in our HP OEM Licensing blog series. From how to assign an OEM Reseller Option Kit (HP ROK) license, to the HP ROK Licensing structure introduced in Microsoft® Windows Server 2012, and how to calculate the total number of licenses needed to provide optimal server performance, we’ve covered a bit of it all! 

** If you have missed any of this series, please read them now to learn more about HP OEM ROK Licensing for Windows Server:

Once you understand the benefits of HP ROK (value pricing, flexible choices, one-stop ordering, and single source support to name a few) and understand the nuts and bolts of HP OEM ROK Licensing, it is also important to have a solid understanding of CALs, Downgrade rights, and Virtualization for Windows Server 2012 R2. Today, we will answer a few key questions we get on these topics.


Client Access License (CALs) and Windows Server 2012 R2

Q: What are the differences between CALs and server licenses?

A: The server license gives you the right to install the server software on a server. Then, the Client Access License (CAL) gives a user, or device, the right to access the server software and the applications it is running.

Remember, CALs are required for Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and Standard edition (but are not included as part of the server software allowing you to purchase precisely what you need).

**Coffee Coaching BONUS: Learn more about CALs from our blog, User Client Access License (CAL) Pricing Update.


Downgrade Rights & Windows Server 2012 R2

Downgrade rights are granted in the license terms and allow you to run an instance of a previous version or lower edition of Windows Server (also referred to as a downgrade or downgrade edition).

Q: How do I obtain the Downgrade kit from HP?

A: HP can fulfill HP OEM Windows Server 2012 R2 customer requests for media and activation keys in two ways:

  • Obtain downgrade with HP ProLiant Server purchase
  • Obtain downgrade after HP ProLiant Server purchase


Virtualization & Windows Server 2012 R2

Virtualization simply means allowing a single machine to function as multiple machines that use resources at the same time. Both Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Datacenter have the exact same features and capabilities, the only difference between these editions are the virtualization rights.

Q: Which edition of Windows Server 2012 R2 is best for the customers’ virtualization needs?


  • Standard edition: recommended for customers that want to have a lightly virtualized environment and entitles users to run one physical instance and two virtual instances with each license.
  • Datacenter edition: recommended for customers that want to have a highly virtualized environment and allows users to run unlimited virtual instances with each license on a single server


Be sure to check back for the next edition of our OEM Licensing blog. And, if you haven’t already, please join our Coffee Coaching communities on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and LinkedIn!

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