Licensing by Virtual Core

Beginning in October 2022, Microsoft allows for licensing of certain products by virtual core. In this blog, we look at three (3) specific titles: Windows Server, System Center, and SQL Server.


Windows Server

The announcement reads:

“When licensing either edition of Windows Server by virtual machine…”


But there’s other parts of this statement – caveats, if you will:

  • “The licensed server must be assigned a minimum of 8 core licenses per virtual machine.”

– So four (4) 2-pack licenses. This is important to understand, because if the utilization of this virtual core is very low – that is, fewer than eight (8) cores will suffice – then you must over­-license the instance.

  • But the announcement goes onto to read:

“Additionally, a minimum of 16 core subscription licenses or licenses with active Software Assurance per customer applies to any customer choosing to allocate Windows Server licenses by virtual machine.”

– If you have no licenses (or  fewer than 16 cores) either covered by active Software Assurance or subscribed to (in which active Software Assurance is inherent), you cannot take advantage of this licensing concept. The Server & Cloud Enrollment (SCE), under which all the licenses in a Client’s inventory must be covered by Software Assurance, is an acceptable form of Software Assurance coverage.

We can think of some ways in which licensing by virtual core is beneficial:

  • Special environments which must be kept separate.
  • Legacy applications that are part of a virtualized environment.
  • Windows Server Standard deployments on large servers where the limit of two (2) servers each time the server is fully licensed (physically) is exceeded.

If the number of virtual core licenses exceeds the physical core for Windows Server Datacenter, you are probably better off licensing the physical cores.

You may not license Windows Server Standard by both physical core and virtual core on the same server. In other words, environments which have grown beyond the capacity of Windows Server Standard (two [2] each time the server is fully licensed by physical core), adding a third virtual instance cannot be licensed by virtual core.


System Center

The licensing for System Center has also evolved the same as Windows Server, except that the deployments of System Center were covered by active Software Assurance during purchase (which is required).


SQL Server

For SQL Server, the option to license SQL Server 2022 virtually will apply only to customers with subscription licenses or licenses with active Software Assurance. So, it is similar to the constraint on Windows Server, but requires that all licenses be covered by active Software Assurance.

All other rules, including the minimum allocation, remain the same.

The process for determining how many 2-core-packs of SQL Server has two (2) steps:

  1. Count the number of virtual cores allocated to the virtual machine an instance of the software will run in.
  2. License those cores subject to a minimum of four licenses per virtual machine. (Simply divide the number resulting from Step 1 by two unless hyper-threading is active. The minimum number of licenses is not affected.)

Special Note: The use of hyper-threading technology does not affect the number of core licenses required when running SQL Server software in a physical OSE.


If you have any questions about these changes, please contact Miro.

Contact Us

If you have an urgent question regarding your software licensing or a software audit, please contact Miro right away.

(732)738–8511 x1208
Use the chat box on the right

About Us

Miro is a leading global provider of software asset management services, specializing in license management, audit advisory, negotiation tactics, support management, and cloud services. We help our clients maximize ROI on their software license investments, stay in compliance, and minimize the impact of audits. Miro's performance guarantee promises that our long-tenured, diverse, and passionate team of expert analysts provides insightful and actionable advice to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

Performance Guarantee

Miro’s no risk Performance Guarantee is that the amount of cost savings that we uncover will be more than our fees.


Managed Services for Oracle Licensing

Miro’s Managed Services for Oracle licensing is a best practice approach for an organization to optimize and outsource the practice of Software Asset Management to specialized external experts to ensure the organization’s compliance with vendor rules and policies.

Learn More