Windows Server 2016 Editions

Now that we have official announcements about launch and availability timeframes for Windows Server 2016, it's time to focus on this from this point on to make sure you are ready for the customer conversations you will have as you move forward. Let's start by taking a look at the editions that will be available.

Editions Description Licensing model CAL requirements
Windows Server 2016 Datacenter For highly virtualized datacenter and cloud environments Core based WS CAL
Windows Server 2016 Standard For physical or minimally virtualized environments Core based WS CAL
Windows Server 2016 Essentials For small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices Processor based No CAL required
Windows Server 2016 MultiPoint Premium Server For Volume Licensing customers in Academic segments only Processor based WS CAL+RDS CAL
Windows Storage Server 2016 Standard and Workgroup editions available in the OEM channel only Processor based No CAL required
Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2016 Free hypervisor download NA NA

A major change has occurred with Windows Server 2016 in that we have feature differentiation between Datacenter and Standard Editions again, like we had prior to Windows Server 2012. This is incredibly important to understand, as you may see generic mentions of "Windows Server 2016" supporting certain features, but as you can see there are some important differences in the table below.

Feature Differentiation: Datacenter and Standard Editions
Feature Datacenter Edition Standard Edition
Core functionality of Windows Server
OSEs / Hyper-V Containers Unlimited 2
Windows Server containers Unlimited Unlimited
Host Guardian Service
Nano Server*
Storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica
Shielded Virtual Machines
Networking stack

* Software Assurance is required to deploy and operate Nano Server in production. SA can be applied to OEM Windows Server purchases, please contact your Microsoft distributor for more details.

One of the things I will focus on in this blog and related video content that we produce is the impact of these changes on the typical OEM SMB customer who may not have been a traditional purchaser of Datacenter. At a high level it can be said that the three features that are listed as not being included in Standard will usually only have an impact in a larger deployment environment, not your typical OEM SMB deployment scenarios. There are of course always going to be exceptions to the rule, where Datacenter may be the preferred or required option for some SMB customers, and where needed I will be pointing these out.