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Virtual Machines licensing FAQ


Windows Server questions

  • The license to run Windows Server in the Azure environment is by default included in the per-minute cost of your Windows Virtual Machine.

    Windows Server licenses are not eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance, but customers licensing Windows Server with Software Assurance can utilize the Azure Hybrid Benefit for a cheaper per-minute cost when running a Windows Virtual Machine.

    Licenses for use of Windows Server on-premises (whether in a virtual hard disk (VHD) or otherwise) must be obtained separately through volume licensing.

  • Even though Windows Server is not covered under license mobility, volume licensing customers can still upload their own image containing Windows Server to Azure, if they are bringing it as part of Licensing Mobility for another product that is being brought over.

    We will charge the Windows Server Virtual Machine rate applicable for their instance.

    Customers can get access to a cheaper per-minute-cost by utilizing the Azure Hybrid Benefit.

    Customers are responsible for proper licensing of any application or middleware in the image.

  • No. Windows Server CALs are not required for accessing Windows Server running in the Azure environment because the access rights are included in the per-minute charge for the Virtual Machines. Use of Windows Server on-premises (whether in a VHD or otherwise) requires obtaining a separate license and is subject to the normal licensing requirements for use of software on-premises.

  • Customers can use the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance to assign their System Center 2012 license to a Windows Server instance running on Azure. A System Center Standard license can be used to manage two virtual machine instances; a System Center Datacenter license can be used to manage eight virtual machine instances.

SQL Server questions

  • If you are an end-customer using SQL Server, you can:

    1. Obtain a SQL Server image from the Marketplace and pay the per-minute licensing rate of SQL Server. The SQL Server license fee is included in the virtual machine image price as shown in the Virtual Machines pricing page.

    2. Customers with Software Assurance can use License Mobility to bring licenses on premise. This can be done by:
      • Obtaining a SQL Server, Bring Your Own License (BYOL) image from the Marketplace. Azure doesn’t charge for images with SQL licensing.
      • Manually installing SQL Server in a Windows Server Virtual Machine from the Marketplace.
      • Uploading a SQL Server image from on premises to Azure to create a virtual machine.

    You must report the usage of licenses to Microsoft using the License Mobility Verification form within 10 days.

  • Each of the deployed Azure Virtual Machines requires licensing for SQL Server. To accomplish this, you can do one of the following:

    • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure Virtual Machine marketplace, and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server for each virtual machine. Use a SQL Server virtual machine from the gallery.


    • Customers with Software Assurance can use License Mobility to license both the active SQL virtual machine and the passive SQL virtual machine with the failover rights as described in Volume Licensing Product Terms.

    To use License Mobility, do one of the following:

    • Create a BYOL SQL Server virtual machine from the Azure Gallery. The BYOL images are labeled {BYOL} in the Azure Marketplace.
    • Manually install SQL Server on a Windows virtual machine from the Azure Marketplace.
    • Manually install SQL Server on-premises and create an image. Then you can upload the image to Azure and create a virtual machine from the uploaded image.

    Customers who use License Mobility for this purpose must notify Microsoft within 10 days with the License Verification form. Click Licensing Documents Search and locate License Verification for your language and region.

  • SQL Server 2012 is licensed per core, which is considered the equivalent to virtual cores in Azure virtual machine instances. The minimum number of cores that can be assigned to a virtual machine instance is four. This means that Extra Small (A0), Small (A1), Medium (A2), Large (A3), and A6 instances must all be assigned four SQL Server core licenses. Extra Large (A4), and A7 instances would need to be assigned eight SQL Server core licenses.

BizTalk Server questions

  • If you are an end-customer using BizTalk Server, you can:

    • Obtain a BizTalk Server image from the Azure Virtual Machine marketplace and pay the per-minute rate of BizTalk Server, or
    • Install or upload your own BizTalk Server image using the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance.

    If you are a Service Provider with a signed Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) you can:

    • Obtain a BizTalk Server image from the Azure Virtual Machine marketplace and pay the per-minute rate of BizTalk Server.

Remote Desktop Services questions

  • Yes, service providers can offer hosted solutions through Remote Desktop Services running on Azure as long as they obtained Remote Desktop Services Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs) through a Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) reseller.

  • Effective January 1, 2014, Volume Licensing customers who have active Software Assurance on their Remote Desktop Services User CALs are entitled to Remote Desktop Services CAL extended rights, which allow use of their Remote Desktop Services User CAL with Software Assurance against a Windows Server running on Azure or other service providers’ shared server environments. This Remote Desktop Services User CAL Software Assurance benefit allows each User to access Remote Desktop Services functionality only on one shared server environment (i.e. Azure or a third-party server) in addition to accessing the respective on-premise servers. To avail this benefit, please complete and submit the License Mobility Verification form to either Azure or an Authorized Mobility Partner where the hosted graphical user interface will be running. More details are available in Appendix 2 of the Software Assurance benefit section of the Product Use Rights.

  • No, multitenant hosting is restricted in the Product Use Rights of Windows Client, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8. Windows Client Desktops are not available on either Azure or on any other Service Provider such as Amazon or Rackspace. Read more about Microsoft Product Use Rights.

SharePoint SQL Server questions

  • SharePoint Servers can be deployed to Azure either through a customer’s volume license agreement using License Mobility for Software Assurance, or as part of a hosted solution licensed via SPLA.

Other Licensing questions

  • In addition to Windows Server, SQL Server, and BizTalk Server, we support Project Server, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP, and Team Foundation Server. Please find the latest list of supported workloads in this article. The table below summarizes licensing models for each product:

    organization-wide support plan
    Products Available in the image marketplace and charged per minute License Mobility through Software Assurance SPLA SAL License

    Windows Server Datacenter Edition


    (per-minute charge includes use of hardware resource, server license, and client access rights)

    Windows Server Standard Edition

    SQL Server Enterprise Edition


    SQL Server Standard Edition


    SQL Server Web Edition


    BizTalk Server Enterprise Edition


    BizTalk Server Standard Edition


    SharePoint Server


    System Center Datacenter


    System Center Standard


    Team Foundation Server


    Project Server


    Microsoft Dynamics NAV


    Microsoft Dynamics GP

  • No. Under the Microsoft Product Use Rights (PUR), Office and Windows 7 are not licensed to run on virtual machines. In particular, Microsoft Office is classified in the PUR as “Desktop Applications”, which is not included in Licensing Mobility.

    More information is available at the site for Microsoft Product Use Rights.

  • Yes, any current Visual Studio subscriber who has activated their subscription may run most of the software licensed under MSDN on Azure Virtual Machines, providing greater flexibility for developing and testing their applications.

    This cloud use right applies to all software included in the MSDN subscription except Windows Client and Windows Server. Visual Studio subscribers can run Windows Server on Azure Virtual Machines, but since this is not included as part of the cloud use rights, subscribers will be charged at the rate of Windows Server Virtual Machines. Visual Studio subscribers can only run Windows Client Virtual Machines within the Azure MSDN benefit subscription, or the MSDN Dev and Test Pay-As-You-Go subscription. Please consult the Visual Studio and MSDN licensing white paper for additional details on cloud use rights.

    In addition to this new use right for Visual Studio subscriber, we updated the Azure MSDN benefit to provide MSDN subscribers a monthly credit to use toward Azure services and reduced rates for running Windows Server Virtual Machines.