Today we announced some significant licensing changes with regards to virtualization and Windows Server 2003:

(1)  Starting with Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition - customers can run up to 4 virtual instances of Windows Server 2003 (any edition) with no additional licensing costs.  Zero, nil.  Additionally, Starting with Longhorn, If you purchase Datacenter Edition of Windows Server, you can have unlimited virtual machines - still at no additional cost.  Pretty cool, huh?

(2)  Some of our Windows Server System products are licensed by the processor. (BizTalk, SQL, Etc)  When these technologies are run in a virtual machine, you only need to license for the virtual processors being used rather than for the physical processors in the host computer.

(3)  You can move active instances of a virtual instance from one computer to another without limitation.  This will allow, for example, a virtual image that is stored on a SAN to be deployed to any server with available resources and licenses.

(4)  To compliment the above scenario, licensing only counts towards the number of actually running virtual instances that are running.  This will allow customers to store as many dormant images as needed.

So why are we doing all of this?  Customer Ease. We wanted our licensing regarding virtualization to remove any potential barriers to customers using Virtual Server 2005. The best way we found to do this was to remove the licensing confusion and limitations and change the licensing to reflect how our customers actually use Virtualization Technologies.

That last statement actually brings up a good question: Does these licensing changes apply only to Virtual Server 2005. No - you can use any virtualization technology that you want. Again, we did this to ease customer pain around virtualization and licensing.

Get started today with an eval copy of Virtual Server!

- Ward Ralston

PS -You can ready the full announcement here.