Will Microsoft's new licensing changes create problems for its customers? Not according to Microsoft.
After Texas law firm Scott & Scott issued its analysis of the changes to Windows Server licensing, Microsoft responded by addressing each of Scott & Scott's points in an email. The issues described by Scott & Scott, Microsoft contends, would be limited to a very small customer segment, and even then wouldn't be as significant an issue as claimed.
The law firm contended that Microsoft Software Assurance customers would face a "confusing transition period," when they would have to figure out how many licenses to buy after their current Software Assurance term was up.
Microsoft replied that "the large majority of customers will not be affected by taking the standard default migration grant," meaning that by default customers automatically receive licenses for "at least" 16 cores for each two-processor license. In Microsoft's view, for most customers, "the default grant will provide more cores than they need."
Regarding Scott & Scott's claim of increased complexity, Microsoft said that "moving from processors to physical cores will actually simplify and evolve Microsoft's Windows Server licensing." Providing a "common core currency" across on-premises, hybrid, and cloud deployments, the company stated, makes it easier to figure out how many licenses are needed and to move workloads between sites without running into potential licensing issues.
In the same vein, Microsoft disputed Scott & Scott's claim that businesses moving to systems with higher core counts would find themselves shelling out more under the new license model. Again, Microsoft asserted that customers with more than eight cores per socket "will be granted additional core licenses to cover those servers."
Microsoft further asserted that customers running the same number of workloads on fewer servers, whether locally or remotely, will be able to save money with "Windows Server Datacenter [providing] unlimited virtualization rights." This assumes companies are consolidating servers and customers aren't simply shifting workloads one-for-one to the cloud to avoid babysitting their hardware.
Microsoft has been attempting to streamline its licensing policies for some time, especially as virtualization and cloud computing continue to complicate the issue. The company has brought the cost schedules for on-premises and cloud-hosted products closer; in Microsoft's purview the two venues are becoming increasingly interchangeable.
In the end, it still falls to the customer to know how many sockets and cores they're responsible for. Microsoft offers an application to assist with gathering such data, the Software Inventory Logging Aggregator; it requires Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP2 or higher and Microsoft Excel 2013, 64-bit edition, with the PowerPivot add-in, to perform its tallies.