Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

Licensing Change Notification: Access Windows Server 2003 in Hyper-V hosted on Windows Server 2008 without Windows Server 2008 CALs

Today we are announcing an exciting change in our licensing policy regarding Windows Server 2008 CALs to better support clients looking to take advantage of the Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V technology to host a Windows Server 2003 environment.

Why? Simple… A number of trends, including consolidation and high availability, are driving more deployments and evaluations of Hyper-V. Based on feedback from our customers, we are updating our licensing policies to address these new scenarios enabled by virtualization.

Prior to this change, if your physical server environment was running Windows Server 2003, you need matching version CALs for all users (i.e. Windows Server 2003 CALs). However, if you move your physical Windows Server 2003 Operating System Environments (OSE) to run as virtual machines hosted by Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 CALs are required. This is per the current use rights. With this change in our licensing policy that we are announcing today, Windows Server 2008 CALs are no longer required if you are using Windows Server 2008 solely as a virtualization host. The only exception to this is if you are running Windows Server 2008 virtual machines, which would require Windows Server 2008 CALs.

With the change, no Windows Server 2008 CALs are required if Windows Server 2008 is being used only to:

  • run hardware virtualization software
  • provide hardware virtualization services
  • run software to manage and service operating system environments on the licensed server

To help demonstrate the effect of the licensing change, I have included three scenarios below and the resulting requirements:

  • Scenario 1: Customer deploying Windows Server 2008 workloads
    • There is no change in licensing or CAL requirements.
    • This is irrespective of whether the customer deploys Windows Server 2008 workloads (other than Hyper-V in a physical or virtual environment.
  • Scenario 2: Customer only deploys Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V to consolidate Windows Server 2003
    • Windows Server 2008 CALs are no longer required
    • Customer will still need CALs for the appropriate Windows Server edition (Windows Server 2003 in this example)
  • Scenario 3: Customer deploys Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V to consolidate Windows Server 2003 but also has Windows Server 2008 deployments
    • Windows Server 2008 CAL requirements will apply for the Windows Server 2008 deployment
    • A CAL for a particular version of Windows Server allows the user/device to access all instances of that version of Windows Server (and prior versions) across the organization

Here is one question I wanted to be sure and answer for you up front, since I anticipate it might come up:

  • Q: Is Software Assurance a prerequisite for taking advantage of the new licensing rules?
  • A: No. Any Volume Licensing customer may take advantage of these new rules, whether they have Software Assurance on their licenses or not.

If you would like more in depth information on this change, please read the updated Volume Licensing Brief that we are posting on this.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights

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