This blog was originally written by Abhijit Sune & Gobind Vijayakumar from DELL Windows Engineering Team.

Microsoft has released the licensing details of Windows Server 2012 R2 and currently there is no change to core editions of Windows Server - Datacenter and Standard. These two editions are only differentiated only by virtualization rights – two virtual instances for Standard edition and unlimited virtual instances for Datacenter edition. A consistent processor-based licensing model that covers up to two physical processors on a server

Licensing details for Windows Server 2012 R2 –

Edition

Feature Comparison

Licensing Model

Datacenter

Unlimited virtual OSE , All features

Processors + CAL**

Standard

Two Virtual OSE, All Features

Processors + CAL**

Essentials

One OSE, Limited features

Server – 25 used limit

Foundation

Limited Features

Server – 15 used limit

**Client Access Licenses (CALs) are required for every user or device accessing a server. See the Product Use Rights for details.

The other two features that have been introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2 Editions are

  • Windows Server Essentials is available as a role with the Standard and Datacenter edition.
  • AVMA feature is introduced with Windows Server 2012 R2 where you need not activate your VM’s anymore if you have a licensed Datacenter edition.

AVMA Feature Description

Microsoft has provided unlimited virtual machine instances of Windows Server for a licensed system with Windows Server Datacenter. This allows customer to simply license the server, provides as much resources as desired and run as many instance of Windows Server as the system can deliver. With Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft makes it easier and fast to deploy and activate virtualization environment.  Automatic Virtual Machine activation (AVWA) is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2 to activate virtual machine that makes it easier for you to use the licensing advantages given by Windows Server Datacenter SKU.

Here at Dell, we have built and tested our infrastructure both in case of  factory order server and OEM OS media to support this feature.

Scope:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter can only function as AVMA hosts.
  • Essentials, Standard and Datacenter SKUs can be AVMA guests

Requirements:

Hardware requirements: Windows Server 2012 R2 AVMA doesn’t introduce any new hardware requirements; however the host must be activated for AVMA to function.

 Software requirements: Windows Server 2012 R2 AVMA has the following software requirements:

  • The host operating system (running on the bare metal) must be Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
  • The guest operating system (running within the virtual machine) must be:
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
    • The guest OS must have an AVMA client key installed

Usages:

The following are the method to implement AVMA

  1. a.      Pre-OS deployment phase: You can provide the AVMA key manually during OS deployment phase or you can use unattended file with AVMA key for VM OS deployment.
  2. b.      Post OS deployment phase:  Create a virtual machine and install a supported server operating system on it.  From an elevated command prompt, run the following command.  Virtual machine will automatically activate the license against the virtualization server.

slmgr /ipk <AVMA_key>

Additional Information-