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Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Edition Comparison

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Edition Comparison


Microsoft Windows Server 2012 comes in different types and flavors, Below there is a brief comparison between those editions, The hardware limitation and support and features available in them.

Server2012 and Server 2012 R2 are all 64-bit versions!

  • Datacenter Edition
  • No limitation on virtualization
  • Unlimited RRAS connections
  • 4TB RAM supported
  • Standard Edition
  • Only two VMs
  • Unlimited RRAS connections
  • 4TB RAM supported
  • Essentials Edition
  • Small and Medium businesses with less than 25 PCs
  • Excellent file server that works seamlessly with Office 365
  • Cannot host any virtual machine but can be virtualized
  • Two processors supported
  • User-friendly management dashboard
  • 50 RRAS connections supported
  • 64GB RAM supported
  • Can join a domain only for migration purposes
  • Active Directory Domain Services required
  • Foundation Edition
  • Only available pre-installed on a new server from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
  • General purpose and economical usage for networks less than 15 users
  • Only allows one processor
  • Cannot be virtualized or host a virtual machine
  • Does not require CALs(Client Access Server licenses)
  • Very limited edition and Essentials edition makes better sense
  • 50 RRAS Connections supported
  • 32GB RAM supported
  • Server can join a domain for migration purposes
  • Storage Server (Standard Edition)
  • Preinstalled on hardware
  • Plays the role of NAS (Network Attached Storage) server, NFS (Network File System) and ISCSI target
  • 4TB RAM supported
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services supported
  • DNS and DHCP services supported
  • File and Print Services supported
  • Hyper-V Server
  • Free edition of Microsoft Hypervisor
  • Fault-Tolerance support by an additional Hyper-V installation
  • Only Shell and no GUI (Graphical User Interface) supported
  • Can be managed using remote tools on other servers or windows 8
  • Only the host is free and guest Operating Systems should be licensed properly
  • 4TB RAM supported
  • No Active Directory Domain Services
  • Server can join domain


Some licensing rules in brief:


  • Server 2012 Standard and Datacenter editions are Feature-complete. The Difference is in the product usage rights.

These editions require both server and CAL (Client Access Licenses) for each user or device which connects to the server.

  • Additive CALsĀ  are required for premium services such as Remote Desktop Services and Active Directory Rights Management.
  • Remote Desktop for remote administration is an exception and does not require additional CAL (Maximum 2 concurrent remote desktop connections).
  • Standard and Datacenter editions are licensed per physical CPU. Up to two physical CPUs are licensed by default with the server licenses for these two editions but any additional CPUs irrespective of the number of cores require more licenses.
  • Standard Edition comes only with two virtual machine licenses (Windows server 2012 license) but there is no limitation in the virtualization licenses that comes with Datacenter edition.


*Always make sure that you check www.Microsoft.com for licensing updates, rules and features before you use or purchase any products.