How does Windows Server Licensing work on virtual machines?

Linode Staff

I've already created a Linode with Windows 11 running on it just fine.

I've created a new Linode running Windows Server 2022, which is also running fine and acting as a Remote Desktop server.

What I'm trying to figure out is how I would need to license Windows Servers. From what I've figured out from Microsoft I would need to get something that covered each core even though my virtual machine uses less.

When I look at Windows Task Manager it detects the CPU as an AMD EPYC 7642 48-Core Processor. For my client I would never need more than 16 CPUs at the Linode level. But if the hardware always shows the 48 cores, I'm afraid Microsoft might make me purchase licenses for that.

What do you think?

8 Replies

I don't have experience with this, personally, though here are a few articles that might help in addition to the document you shared:



But if the hardware always shows the 48 cores, I'm afraid Microsoft might make me purchase licenses for that.

It's been my experience that M$ will try to extract as much money from you as they possibly can. 48 cores means 48 cores. It doesn't matter that it's a virtual machine or not. Get prepared to open your wallet…

-- sw

This is why I love linux :)

From what I can find out, you licence the physical machine, which then gives you rights to run X number of virtual machines on the licensed hardware.

Microsoft references providers that allow dedicated hardware - such as AWS EC2 Dedicated, where a physical machine is dedicated to a single customer, where the licence can be acquired by said customer to the physical hardware.

For multi-tenant scenarios - where multiple customers can share the same physical hardware - I think Linode needs to be a registered provider of Windows licences and can declare the relevant usage (and be charged accordingly) of their customers’ Windows systems.

Disclaimer… I’m not an expert, MS licensing has always needed a degree (or equivalent education) to fully understand (if that is even possible), and this has only got worse with virtual machines and cloud.

I'm the one that asked the original question in a support ticket.

[@andy] (/community/user/andy)sh This is also what I had gathered from my own research. I was hoping I was wrong as I would not expect Linode to become a Microsoft SPLA.

I started a chat with a Microsoft rep today and they acted like it could be done but eventually referred me to a partner with specialists that I have not heard from yet.

There's a list of cloud providers that Microsoft lists by name (AWS for example) and in some places I've gotten the impression that private clouds (even where the hardware is shared) might be exempt from this SPLA requirement.

Thanks for the links. It helped me a lot. By the way, I'm looking for ideas for my essay on the internet because I received it from the college and I have no idea what to write about. Fortunately, I found a really interesting website,, which makes it easy for me to finish my writing assignment.

The main one is licensing Windows Server on a virtual core basis. Under this model, customers can buy licenses for only the virtual cores they need (with a per-VM minimum), without being tied to a physical number of cores on the server.


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