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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

As I understand it, you can do:

  • Windows 2008 + Hyper-V role

  • Windows Hyper-V Server (which is free I believe)

  • Windows 2008 Core + Hyper-V Role

I'm assuming that Core + Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server have the smallest footprint, and therefore better performing, less patching, etc. What other trade-offs/compromises would there be compared to the full Windows + Hyper-V role?

However, I've read somewhere that Enterprise comes with four Enterprise 2008 (4) guest VM licenses (I think Standard gives you two (2)).

Can someone clarify these statements?


Forgot one other thing: if you buy an Enterprise license, can you install Core + Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server to take advantage of the smaller footprint, but also utilize the four (4) Standard guest licenses* that you're granted with the Enterprise license?

  • Thank you, Chopper3
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marked as duplicate by Scott Pack, Iain Feb 12 '12 at 16:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you have a license for the machine you can downgrade to any lower version of windows. So if you buy 2008 EE you can install Hyper-V Server if you so choose. If you're running a cluster you should consider installing Hyper-V Server as it has the smallest footprint and least administrative overhead.

Server 2008 EE comes with 4 virtualization licenses. This means you're allowed to run Enterprise on the machine itself, and 4 VMs running EE (or a lower edition at your choice). If you run Hyper-V Server on the base machine however, you still only get 4 VM licenses.

Standard Edition comes with 2 virtualization licenses. Again if you can only run Standard edition or lower (Web Edition, or previous verions of Windows Server Standard Edition).

DataCenter Edition is licensed per physical processor, and allows you to run anything you want on that machine; any number of VMs, any edition, just has to be 2008 (or a previous verion of Windows). If you're going this route, might as well spring for 2008 R2 so you've got the newest stuff included.

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I'm far from an expert but I do know that EE does come with 4 standard VM licences, i.e. your VMs can't be EE ok.

As for performance, well the least code in your hypervisor generally the faster it'll be, though of course you'll need at least one full-feature server somewhere to manage your HV machines from.

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The VM licenses are for the same edition as the host, and can be lower editions, and older versions (though this may require a call to MS licensing to get the Keys). Also, you can manage the servers from a Vista or Win7 workstation, none of the servers have to be full-featured. – Chris S Apr 27 '10 at 18:43

Optineer: One thing to keep in mind as a will want to be very skilled in command-line/powershell and don't mind typing ALOT that you can do in a couple clicks with the GUI most Windows admins are familiar with. We started with Core in 2008 and moved to Full in 2008 R2 do to performance..both in the OS AND performing the admin work on the servers. We weren't ready to devote the time to create the automation required for configuring core boxes with 2008. On the other hand, Hyper-V Server and coreconfig on codeplex is a great tool and helps alot with this if you only have a few to do, there is a 2.0 version for R2. Good luck!

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Except you don't need coreconfig anymore - 2008 R2 incorporates a command line gui tool (i.e. old style dos box menu) which is perfect enough for initial configuration ;) Use it myself. – TomTom Apr 27 '10 at 18:59

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