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UPDATE: Windows Server 2012 R2 Costs Going Up 28 Percent

Windows Server 2012 R2 will arrive with price hikes on some licensing, according to newly published Microsoft documentation.

Microsoft published updated pricing on its emerging products in two documents at this page, which was noted late last week by Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn in a blog post. Windows Server 2012 R2 will be generally available by year's end, but the exact date hasn't been disclosed yet.

Server 2012 R2 Price Hikes
When released, Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition will cost 28 percent more than the comparable edition on Windows Server 2012. It will cost $6,155 for Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition vs. $4,809 for Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition licensing, according to Microsoft's "Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing Datasheet" document. Correction: a Microsoft spokesperson stated that "in fact, the $6,155 price is a one-time cost, not annual."

The Standard edition of Windows Server 2012 R2 will have the same price ($882 per year) as its predecessor.

The price of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials for small businesses, which supports up to 25 user accounts, will be $501. Update: Microsoft's online documentation had once indicated that Windows Server 2012 Essentials was priced at $425, suggesting a price increase for the R2 version. However, Microsoft appears to have corrected that price, as others have noticed. The documentation now suggests that both versions are priced at $501. Microsoft added a few enhancements to Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2. It plans to ship Essentials when Windows Server 2012 R2 is released.

There's also a Foundation edition of Windows Server 2012 R2, supporting up to 15 user accounts. The price of the Foundation edition wasn't listed because it gets determined by Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer partners. The Foundation edition is notable for having no Hyper-V virtualization rights.

The Essentials and Foundation editions both do not require Client Access Licenses (CALs). However, CALs are required for the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2012 R2.

The Datacenter and Standard editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 differ only in terms of virtualization rights. The Datacenter edition provides "unlimited virtualization" rights, although in practice the number of virtual machines is limited by the hardware used, according to Directions on Microsoft's licensing tips. The Standard edition supports virtualization rights for up to two "operating system environments" on up to two processors. In both cases, a single license covers up to two physical processors.

The Windows Server 2012 R2 price increases will be for Select and Open licensing. Organizations that have Software Assurance on top of their Windows Server 2012 licensing won't pay extra for the upgrade if the Software Assurance coverage period extends through Windows Server 2012 R2 general availability period.

"For customers that buy via Select and Open License, the price goes up in Q4, when Windows Server 2012 R2 becomes 'generally available'," said Rob Horwitz, research chair and cofounder of independent consultancy Directions on Microsoft, via e-mail. "For customers with various types of EAs [Enterprise Agreements], the price will go up at the end of their current contract, assuming that Windows Server Datacenter and the RDS CAL is already on the agreement's 'price list' before Windows Server 2012 R2 ships."

The timing of product releases and product listings are important for organizations with Enterprise Agreements because they have the ability to "lock" the price, he explained. The purchase of a single copy gets a "SKU," or product listing, in an Enterprise Agreement's enrollment's price list, thus locking in the price for the duration of that enrollment contract.

RDS Price Hikes
Also going up in price will be Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CALs for Windows Server 2012 R2. The per-device RDS CAL will cost $102 per year, while the per-user RDS CAL will cost $118 per year, according to the "Windows Server 2012 R2 Remote Desktop Services FAQ" document. Those prices represent a 20 percent hike, according to Horwitz.

"When WS 2012 R2 ships, the price for newly purchased RDS CALs will go up 20% (again, the price increase immediately affects Select and Open License customers buying new licenses, but might not affect EA customers for as long as a few years depending on the contract termination date)," Horwitz explained.

Those organizations with RDS CALs for Windows Server 2012 won't have to buy new RDS CALs if upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2. Microsoft typically hasn't raised those upgrade costs in the recent past, Horwitz noted.

Microsoft's RDS FAQ document also indicated that a new change in licensing will be arriving next year.

"By next year, RDS CALs with active SA (Software Assurance) will permit access to Windows Azure or an authorized Mobility Partner's shared Windows server software running in a dedicated operating system environment (virtual machine) using RDS functionality or other technology without acquisition of a separate RDS SAL (Subscriber Access Licenses)," the document states.

No other details were provided in the FAQ, but this statement appears to mean that RDS CALs on a local server implementation can be applied to a hosted implementation sometime next year. Microsoft is promising more details when Windows Server 2012 R2 is released.

Microsoft's licensing prices have generally been higher compared with last year, according to Paul DeGroot, founder of Pica Communications and a Microsoft licensing expert.

"Record number of price increases from MS in the last year," DeGroot stated via Twitter. "This will affect pretty well every business customer."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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