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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

As an sys admins we need to provide our development team with both an integration and development environment. Spawning virtual machines would be a great option, right?

However, when is it considered a production environment vs development? Before answering consider this...

This VM will be running within our production virtual infrastructure, production network, and added to the production domain (our Enterprise AD domain). However, the intent of the server will be strictly limited to development (no production use). Would I need a "regular" server OS license for this Development virtual server? or will a developers MSDN license cover the OS license as well?

Or how about even just a physical server that will be connected the production domain but again, only be used for development and/or integration servers. Again, which license would I need?

Any form of official documentation or reference would be greatly appreciate. Thanks!

  • 1
    The license text for MSDN Development Licenses carefully spells all this out. I highly suggest diving in so you really know what you're talking about should the fecal matter ever hit the air velocity accelerator. Generally if you have any production software on an instance of Windows it needs to be licensed as such, also any underlying software (such as the Hypervisor). If the instance of Windows will be used solely for developing software (as defined in the MSDN licenses) then you can use MSDN licensing. You can always license per processor and cover all your bases, but it's very expensive.
    – Chris S
    Dec 8, 2011 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


Regardless of what anyone here tells you, you really need to consult a license specialist on whatever products you're working with. Licensing is so complex these days that its way too easy to violate a license agreement.

That being said, if your intent is actually to use it as a dev server then I'd say use an MSDN license.

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