Microsoft CSP price changes: October 2022


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October 2022 will see some Microsoft price changes and new options added to the Server Subscriptions for Azure on the CSP program:

  • Windows Server 2022 Std 8-core license pack (1yr) drops from $272 to $213.60
  • Windows Server 2022 RDS User CAL (1yr) increases from $56.04 to $77.04

They are also adding Windows Server Datacenter 8-core license packs in 1 & 3 year variants, to complement the existing Windows Server Std offering.

Microsoft also state that, “over time”, the 1-year software subscriptions via CSP will be aligned with pricing on SPLA – meaning some products will increase while others decrease.

Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI


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Microsoft have announced a new way for Azure Stack HCI customers to license their Windows Server guest VMs. The snappily titled “Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI” (WSSASHCI) allows organisations to purchase Windows Server licenses via their Azure subscription.

Currently the versions available are:

  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition
  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

Pricing

WSSASHCI is currently free in public preview but once it hits General Availability (GA) it will be $23.6 per physical core (in your Azure Stack HCI cluster) per month.

Further Reading

Announcement

Docs page

Azure Stack HCI page

Windows Server 2022: New release model


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Microsoft have updated the release model for Windows Server 2022. There will no longer be a Semi-Annual Channel, instead there will only be the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). A new version of the LTSC will be released every 2-3 years, and each release will receive 10 years of support – 5 mainstream + 5 extended.

They state the focus of the Semi-Annual Channel was innovation around containers and microservices and that this work will continue within Azure Stack HCI instead.

Further Reading

Microsoft Docs page

Microsoft extend Extended Security Updates


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Extended Security Updates (ESUs), available for Windows Server 2008/R2 and SQL Server 2008/R2, were introduced in 2019 to extend available security support for 3 more years beyond the end of the products’ extended support periods.

It’s now less than 12 months until the end of the ESU period for SQL Server 2008/R2 and Microsoft have announced they will be providing 12 additional months of cover – but only for workloads running in Azure. This will also apply to Windows Server 2008/R2 – the end of ESU dates are:

  • SQL Server 2008/R2 – July 12, 2022
  • Windows Server 2008/R2 – January 10, 2023

End of support for 2012 Server versions

They have announced the availability of ESUs for the 2012/R2 releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. Extended Support for these ends:

SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022

Windows Server 2012/R2 – October 10, 2023

It’s now less than 12 months until SQL Server 2012 goes out of support so if you’re using that within your organisation, you need to come up with a plan to:

  • Upgrade on-premises
  • Migrate to Azure for free ESUs
  • Budget to purchase on-premises ESUs

See more info from Microsoft here.

Microsoft Windows Server 2022


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Microsoft have announced that Windows Server 2022 is in preview and will be available “later” in 2021.

According to this Microsoft page, new security features include “Secured-core server” and Credential Guard while it also brings interoperability with Azure Arc – the service that allows Azure policies to manage on-premises and multi-cloud resources – and Storage Migration Service, which helps connect on-prem file servers to those in Azure.

There are also several updates relating to Containers – all of which show Microsoft’s focus. Although this is a new on-premises server OS, it’s all about connecting to the cloud and enabling a smooth, hybrid infrastructure.

You’ll be pleased to know that there’s no sign of any changes to the licensing model at this stage 😁

Microsoft retire on-premises server certifications


Microsoft have been on a cloud push for 12 years now, since the launch of BPOS in 2008. They’ve been slowly “turning the ship” in various ways over the last decade, with the ultimate aim that as much of Microsoft is pointing at the cloud as possible. This is also a case of “trickle down (cloud) economics” – Microsoft are making their new direction reflect as much as possible within their partner base…and that change will then happen within Microsoft’s customers too.

Microsoft have made various changes to partner incentives, changed a few Software Assurance benefits related to training resources, and changed the Home Use Program – all aimed to drive cloud awareness in different ways. Their latest move is to retire all their on-premises server certification paths and exams related to the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE qualifications that have been a staple of the Microsoft server world for years. The retirement date is June 30, 2020.

As you can see in this image from Microsoft, the recommended paths are now all cloud focused:

Microsoft alternative certifications
Taken from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/community-blog-post.aspx?BlogId=8&Id=375282

You can see a full list of what’s being retired, along with some FAQs, here – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/community-blog-post.aspx?BlogId=8&Id=375282

While not surprising given the focus on cloud, not just from Microsoft but across the industry, I do wonder if this is a little short sighted? There are still a LOT of on-premises servers in use and, with hybrid cloud being the de-facto way forward for most organisations, they will remain for a long time to come. Rightly or wrongly, this feels like Microsoft saying that they don’t care about on-premises anymore. I’ve seen MS people saying they’re still hiring lots of on-premises server engineers etc. and that may be the case, but this announcement will definitely be taken as a sign of their overall focus.

I’m often asked if Microsoft will continue to make on-premises versions of their software and, following this announcement, I can’t help but wonder if I need to rethink my answer…

Windows Server 2012 Licensing Changes


Windows Server 2012 is getting ever closer and today we had some exciting news – changes to the licensing – Yay! This has genuinely got me quite excited Smile

Currently Windows Server has 3 main flavours:

  • Standard / Licensed Per Server
  • Enterprise / Licensed Per Server / Rights to 4 Virtual Servers
  • DataCenter / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to Unlimited Virtual Servers

There are also Web Server, HPC & Small Business Server (SBS) editions.

There are also feature differences between the versions.

Going forward with Windows Server 2012 we will have:

  • Std / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to 2 Virtual Servers
  • DataCenter / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to Unlimited Virtual Servers
  • Each license covers 2 CPUs

Std & DataCenter will have feature parity and the only difference will be the virtual server rights. This is a question I’ve already seen on Twitter:

image

So it’s good to get an answer straight away.

Features previously not in Windows Server Std that will be with 2012 include:

  • Windows Server Failover Clustering
  • BranchCache Hosted Cache Server
  • Active Directory Federated Services
  • Additional Active Directory Certificate Services capabilities
  • Distributed File Services (support for more than 1 DFS root)
  • DFS-R Cross-File Replication

This follows the same path as the changes recently made to System Center and, while it may make small installations more expensive, overall it reduces costs and simplifies the licensing for end users.

There are 2 other editions of Windows Server 2012 – Essential & Foundation:

image

As you can see, Essentials & Foundation are aimed at the very small networks and both are limited to 1 CPU. Things which are missing from the lower editions include:

  • Direct Access
  • Hyper-V
  • ADFS

To see the full list of feature differences between the various editions, download the Windows Server 2012 datasheet here:

View Datasheet

Web Server

Windows Web Server can only run web facing workloads but does not require any CALs (Client Access Licenses) which makes it perfect for hosting external sites. However Web Server is being discontinued in the next release but before tales of astronomical rises in costs as companies are forced to buy CALs for every single user of their service:

“Despite the removal of Web Server edition, web workloads running on a Windows Server 2012 edition will continue to receive the “CAL waiver” that is in effect for these workloads today. Windows Server CALs will not be required to access the licensed server if it is only being used to run web workloads”

Software Assurance Transition

If you have active Software Assurance (SA) on Windows Server licenses at the time of release for 2012, you will receive rights to the new versions as per the below:

image

What about SBS?

Small Business Server has been around for years, combines Windows Server & Exchange Server and is aimed at networks with less than 75 users. Now however it’s time has come to an end…

image

 

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SBS has quite a thriving community built around it with many passionate advocates, most of whom are sad/angered to see it go. I on the other hand am really rather happy about it! I’ve always found it to be an extra, unnecessary complication when new sales staff/customers get involved with licensing. I realise I’m not going to be popular with that opinion and I’m equally sure that if I worked more in that area I’d have a different opinion but as it is, from the Mid-market & Enterprise space, this is a welcome move.

You can find the full FAQ here:

Find Answers

Microsoft SPLA pricing changes


Microsoft SPLA, Service Provider Licence Agreement is, as the name suggests, a licensing program aimed at Service Providers. It gives them a very cost effective subscription based licensing model, allowing them to offer monthly pricing to their users.

Come January 1st 2011, there are going to be some changes to the Windows Server pricing:

Product Price Change
Windows Web Svr -21%
Windows Svr Std -21%
Windows Svr Ent -21%
Windows Svr Datacenter +30%

Why is Windows DataCenter going up? Well, it’s actually going DOWN, as the current price is technically a promo that’s been going on for about 2 years Smile

For more info and some FAQ’s, head to:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/stevemar/archive/2010/11/19/service-provider-license-agreement-spla-changes-for-windows-server.aspx

Windows Server 2008 R2 & Windows 7 Service Pack 1


Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced many new features over and above Server 2008, and now we hear that Service Pack 1 (SP1) will extend that even further.

Memory Over Commit:

This feature, or rather the lack of it, caused quite a few comments from the VMWare side of the virtualization world as they had it and Hyper-V didn’t.

Basically it allows you to assign more RAM to your Virtual Machines than you physically have available for example:

A physical host with 4GB RAM

4 VM’s each allocated 2 GB RAM

So a total of 8GB assigned with only 4GB available…what the what?! How can this work?!

Although machines will crash if the physical memory isn’t available, it reality it’s very rare for machines to use anywhere near the amount of RAM they have. It does still carry risks though so it isn’t for everyone!

Remote FX

Do you remember when Microsoft bought Calista around the start of 2008? They were a startup who:

“set out to create technology that allows remote workers to enjoy the same rich user experience over a network as with a locally executing desktop”

This includes:

  • Full Fidelity Video
  • Silverlight Support
  • 3D Graphics
  • Windows Aero

Based on this technology, Microsoft are introducing “RemoteFX” with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, although there are keen to point out that this is:

“not a new standalone product from Microsoft. Rather, it describes a set of RDP technologies – most prominently graphics virtualization and the use of advanced codes – that are being added”

This will allow remote users/VDI users to have an experience much closer to that of a full desktop PC.

One thing to note is that:

If you want to use RemoteFX with a Windows 7 VM, it must be running on Hyper-V…so no VMWare!

Microsoft have always very closely with Citrix and now it’s been announced that Citrix will be integrating RemoteFX into their XenDesktop and HDX products.

Exchange 2007 & Server 2008 R2


Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn’t support Exchange 2007. That is a fact and it has caused confusion, consternation & anger among many of Microsoft’s customers and indeed partners (I can confirm that!).

The big question was “Why"?”…as when Server 2008 R2 was released in September, Exchange 2007 was the current version. While Exchange 2010 is almost upon us it is still unlikely that companies will instantly move to the new version…particularly on something as important as their email infrastructure. So that meant either:

a) Customers stayed on Exchange 2007 and Server 2008

b) Customers had a mixed Server 2008/2008 R2 environment

and, aside from the technical aspect, many people viewed it as a cynical ploy by Redmond to force them to upgrade. The message alongside Windows 7 is “Deploy with Server 2008 R2, they’re better together” (which is true!) but then it seemed a little like “Gotcha! Now you’re got R2…you’ve got to buy Exchange 2010”. While that wasn’t the case, that’s how it seemed to customers and really-that’s what matters. Vista wasn’t anywhere near a terrible as a lot of people say it is…but it didn’t do very well did it…and that was because of user perception.

Now however, that’s all changed! This post on the Exchange Team Blog (You had me at EHLO) reveals that:

“In the coming calendar year we will issue an update for Exchange 2007 enabling full support of Windows Server 2008 R2”

They say that customers spoke, Microsoft listened and the change is happening…brilliant 🙂

Good work Microsoft!

Thanks to @JohnFontana for the tweet that flagged this up…

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