Windows Server 2016 Servicing Channels

Microsoft announce that Windows Server 2016 will have a new option for releasing updates which will align to the upcoming servicing channels for Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. There will be two primary release channels available to Windows Server customers: the Long Term Servicing Channel (replacing the Long Term Servicing Branch) and the new Semi Annual Channel.

In the Semi Annual Channel there will be new releases of Windows Server twice a year (in the spring and autumn) and each release will be supported for 18 months. The different releases will be identified by the year and month – for example, the expected release in September this year will be 1709.

Not all Windows Server installation options are available through all channels: Nano Sever will only be available through the Semi Annual Channel, and Server with Desktop only available through the Long Term Servicing Channel. Server Core will be available through both channels.

For further information – including device compatibility and servicing tools – read the full Microsoft article here:

September 2016 Hosting and Cloud Newsletter

This useful newsletter has three items of licensing interest this month – let’s take a look.

First of all there’s confirmation that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 will be available in October 2016, with Service Providers being able to download the products from 17 October. The licensing model changes to Core licences and there’s a requirement for a minimum of 8 Core licences per processor. The virtualisation rules are pretty much the same as for 2012 R2: license all the cores with Datacenter edition for unlimited virtualisation, and license all cores with Standard edition for the rights to run a single VM.

Then there’s confirmation that Windows 10 Enterprise E3 is available in the CSP program from 1 September 2016. Licensed users may install the software on up to 5 devices but they will not have access to any virtualisation rights or Software Assurance benefits. Note that qualifying licences of Windows 10 Pro and above are required.

And finally, you’ll want to put 29 September in your diary for the quarterly licensing briefing from the Microsoft SPLA team. The agenda is set to cover the detail of licensing Windows 10 Enterprise E3 through CSP, and Windows Server and System Center 2016 through SPLA. Register for the Cloud Channel Network to attend: or, if you’re already a member, add the event to your calendar here:

Sign up for this free monthly newsletter here:

Windows Server and System Center 2016 Licensing FAQ

There’s an updated (May 2016) Licensing FAQ for Windows Server and System Center 2016. The last version published by Microsoft was in December 2015 and there are some interesting new things documented that are worth a look.

First of all, there’s some further information about how the transition from Processor-based to Core licences will work: essentially it won’t affect SA customers until renewal, at which point there will be grants of a minimum of 16 Core licences for each Processor-based licence. If customers need more Core licences to cover their existing hardware, then they need to inventory their environment and the additional licences will be granted. See page 3 for details.

There’s also an example on pages 3 and 4 of how an existing Enterprise Agreement customer would proceed with trueing up more Datacenter licences after the launch of Windows Server 2016. You’ll need to read the detail, but essentially it’s all dependent on the renewal date of the agreement. Along similar lines, there’s a new question on page 6 which details that early commitment for a renewal is an option if a customer wants to lock in Processor-based licences for a further agreement term.

And finally, page 6 gives us some more detail on the editions that we can expect. First of all, we learn that Windows Server Foundation and Essential editions will be merged into a single product – Windows Server 2016 Essentials, and that its licensing will continue to be processor-based. Then there will just be a single product for MultiPoint Server – Windows Server 2016 MultiPoint Premium Server, which will be available through Academic Licensing Programs only and not through Open, OEM or retail channels. Interestingly, if required, corporate customers can use the MultiPoint Premium Server role that will be available in Standard and Datacenter editions as long as they also acquire non-Academic Windows Server and RDS CALs.

As usual, find this guide along with all of its Licensing Guide friends here:

Updated Windows Server 2016 Licensing Datasheet

There’s an updated Windows Server 2016 Licensing Datasheet from Microsoft. There are some interesting clarifications which you may not have come across before.

Firstly, there’s confirmation that when licensing with Standard edition rather just adding single licences for further virtual machines you need to completely license all of the physical cores again (see page 3).

Then there’s a list of the editions we can expect (page 2) which includes Essentials, MultiPoint Premium Server, Storage Server and Hyper-V Server, and shows the licensing models that will prevail – Core-based for Standard and Datacenter, but Processor-based for the rest.

There’s also a bit more clarification about the process and timings for the processor to core licensing changes (page 4) and then the two available servicing branches are covered on page 5, with Server with Desktop Experience/Server Core on the Long Term Servicing Branch and Nano Server on the Current Branch for Business – which will require SA.

As usual, find the guide in our extensive store of Licensing Guides here:

Windows Server 2016: Availability Date and Branches

There’s more news from Microsoft on Windows Server 2016 with, first of all, confirmation that it will be on the October 2016 price list.

Next, we learn that there will be two branches: Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) and the Current Branch for Business (CBB). Customers will opt into one of these branches depending on the installation option they choose: Server with Desktop Experience and Server Core will be on LTSB, and Nano Server will be on CBB.

It’s expected that there will be two or three updates per year for Nano Server and there will be a requirement to have Software Assurance for this option.

Read the full article from Microsoft here:

Azure Hybrid Use Rights

From 1 February 2016, organisations with Windows Server licenses with SA can make use of the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit.

Called “HUB” for short, this brand new benefit means that you can procure an Azure virtual machine without Windows Server and can then assign an existing Windows Server licence to it.

Even more interestingly, if you have Datacenter licences then they can be assigned to on-premises AND Azure virtual machines, while you need to make the choice of either on-premises OR Azure virtual machines for Standard. A single Processor-based licence will allow you to use Windows Server on up to 16 cores in Azure.

Get the full wording on page 50 of the February 2016 Product Terms.

Microsoft Hosting and CSP Newsletter

The December 2015 Hosting and Cloud Service Provider newsletter is out.

It’s got links to recent topics of interest in the hosting world: the launch of E5, licensing changes for Windows Server and System Center 2016, and the changes to Licence Mobility for SA rights which allow customers to fail-over to shared hardware.

There are also links to useful CSP resources and the next quarterly licensing webcast on 20 January, 2016.

Sign up for this free newsletter here:

Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 Pricing and Licensing FAQ

There’s a December 2015 Pricing and Licensing FAQ for Windows Server and System Center which gives some more detail on the upcoming 2016 versions of these products. Here are the new and interesting things revealed:

Windows Server

  • Windows Server 2016 is licensed by physical cores, therefore using hyper-threading does not change the Core licences required
  • If processors are disabled for use by Windows then the cores on that processor do not need to be licensed
  • Windows Server 2016 supports nested virtualisation – a VM running inside a VM – which counts as two virtual machines from a licensing perspective
  • There will be an External Connector licence for Windows Server 2016
  • Nano Server is a deployment option within Windows Server 2016 and requires no further licences


Azure hybrid-use benefit

  • Anticipated to be available in the first quarter of 2016
  • Customers with Windows Server with SA can use Windows Server images in non-Windows VMs in Azure
  • Each Windows Server 2012 R2 Processor licence allows customers to run 2 instances on up to 8 cores each, or 1 instance on up to 16 cores
  • When the benefit is used with a Standard edition licence, that licence may no longer be assigned to another server, but Datacenter licences can continue to be used for unlimited virtualisation in an on-premises deployment


System Center

  • System Center 2016 will also move to the Core licensing model
  • The Core Infrastructure Server Suite will also be licensed with Core licences


Find this jolly useful FAQ here: – look in the Core Infrastructure section.