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I was browsing my technet downloads for SQL Server 2012 and I noticed a bunch of products labelled "core" edition:

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Is this something to do with their new per-core licensing model, or something else?

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To confirm my answer, you should download both files and do a binary comparison on the two... if they're identical that should reveal whether my thoughts are correct. –  Ashley Steel Jun 9 '12 at 5:02
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3 Answers

I was confused by this too...

From my research it seems that Enterprise Core is in fact just the per-core licensing version of Enterprise. (Contrary to your own answer).

As a Microsoft Partner, the "Enterprise Core" version was all that was available to me in our Partner Download Portal. I thought it strange that I would be restricted to installing SQL to Windows Core, but as I discovered when I went to install it on full Windows Server 2008 R2, it proceeded without difficulty.

Since both entries in your image are the same file size, I'd hazard a guess that the two versions have been mistakenly added to MSDN and are in fact the same thing.

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Sorry, I didn't see this answer until today. You've got me wondering now... I might have to do a comparison of the two as you suggest. –  Mark Henderson Jun 15 '12 at 5:30
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I am a SPLA provider, and when I look at the core editions, it states that it is for licensing two cores, as opposed to one processor. The core download and the full download are both the EXACT same size. That tells me that the core edition has NOTHING to do with the core version of windows, it has to do with licensing.

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It is related to the new Core licensing model available for SQL Server 2012 (Enterprise, Standard and Web editions). –  joeqwerty Nov 27 '12 at 4:48
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Not only do they NOT tell you the difference between Enterprise and Enterprise Core. They have continued this practice of misnaming the downloads into SQL Server 2014. It is very easy to make a mistake and download the wrong version and wind up with a server with only 1/2 of it's cores working... Microsoft should make the following changes:

They should name "SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition with Service Pack 1 (x64) - DVD (English)" as "SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition-Server-CAL-License with Service Pack 1 (x64) - DVD (English)"

It would probably be helpful if they changed "SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Core Edition with Service Pack 1 (x64) - DVD (English)" to "SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Per Core Licensing Edition with Service Pack 1 (x64) - DVD (English)"

This will go a long way and make it more clear to their customers. The lack of clarity is unacceptable.

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