Microsoft creates virtual kernel license for Windows Server • The Register

Microsoft has announced a major overhaul of its Windows licensing regimes that make it easier to use its operating system in the cloud instead – not to mention that the real reason for the change is to get rid of the European Union.

The biggest change is a virtual core licensing option for Windows Server, instead of paying for the operating system based on the host machines’ physical CPU cores.

“Today, Windows Server is licensed per physical core, which means customers must have access to physical server hardware to ensure they have enough Windows Server licenses to cover all of the physical cores in the machine,” Microsoft partner director Nicole Dezen said in a statement. Monday announcement.

“With the virtual core licensing option, customers can choose to license Windows Server based on the number of virtual cores they use in virtual machines, making it easier to license Windows Server when virtualization or outsourcing.”

Customers can choose to license Windows Server based on the number of virtual cores they use in virtual machines

Microsoft’s goal with this change is to get users to migrate Windows Server to the cloud. But not just any cloud – the new license does not apply to Alibaba, Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft. Instead, the target is clouds managed by Microsoft’s partner community.

Windows 10 and 11 also received a similar update, with Microsoft 365 F3, E3, or E5 license holders able to run the operating systems “on their own servers or on contractors’ servers…that the user’s primary device has a qualifying operating system (QOS) – for example, Windows 11 Pro – and without the need for additional licenses.

This is a change from the current regime which requires customers who do not have a primary device with a QOS to purchase an add-on license to virtualize Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Microsoft disclosed the changes in a partner notice and the aforementioned statement from Dezen, both of which contain a very important omission: the real reason for the changes.

This reason is the legal action taken by European clouds who found that Microsoft’s software licensing programs represented unfair competition and put them at a disadvantage. The Redmond giant has made concessions to end the lawsuits, with Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith promising, “We’ll make it easier than ever to license Windows Server for virtual environments and the cloud by relaxing the rules for license that reflect legacy software licensing practices, where licenses are tied. to physical hardware,” in a May 18 post.

Three months and a bit later, the American mega-corporation considers the introduction of these promised licenses as a generosity towards its partners, and not as a requirement as part of its peace offer with European cloud providers.

Dezen’s announcement makes perhaps a small oblique reference to the European hubbub – she wrote “we welcome continued feedback from cloud providers, customers and other stakeholders as these changes are implemented. implemented” – although court cases were not explicitly mentioned.

Perhaps readers might want to remember this the next time Microsoft talks about its ethics?

The new licenses will be available on October 1. Microsoft said training sessions for customers and partners will begin in the coming weeks.

Other changes include allowing cloud solution providers (CSPs) to sell customers one- or three-year subscriptions “for many products, including Windows Server, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and SQL Server.” More monthly billing options will also be available for one-year plans.

Microsoft also added a CSP “hosting” program that allows partners “to pre-build hosted desktop and server solutions that they can sell to customers with licenses in CSP (hosting included in license), or to customers who already have licenses (BYOL solutions customer to partner).

The desktop version of this program further complicates Microsoft’s virtual desktop options, which already include Windows 365 cloud PCs, Azure virtual desktops, and the ability to run desktop products as a service from Citrix and VMware. in Azure. Good luck figuring out how the new Windows client licenses apply to this whole bundle. ®