Windows licensing and VDI question


I currently have two servers with one populated CPU (8 cores) socket each running in a cluster with their storage on a SAN connected via iSCSI. The cluster has DRS/HA configured. I also have 2 Windows Server 2019 Datacenter licenses and a bunch of Windows 10 Pro licenses. I read that you can license a whole server with a 2019 Datacenter license and thus have unlimited windows vm on that specific host. My goal is to have all my Windows VMs (VDI or not) be able to vMotion freely from one host to another at any time.

I have a few questions I can’t find a clear answer about;

1. Where do you register the license for the host? Is it on vCenter or directly on a Server 2019 VM and the other VMs on that host will automatically get the license?
2. Does this license only works for Windows Server or I’ll be able to install as many Windows 10 VMs as I want for my Horizon VDI? If not, can I similarly apply on Windows 10 pro license per host for each of my Windows 10 VMs?
3. If I change the CPU in one host, will it need to reactivate the license?

Thanks a lot for reading!!!!!!!

View Reddit by MajinCookieView Source


To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below

Related Articles


  1. Windows licenses are tied to the VM’s, and you just use your Datacenter license on Datacenter virtual machines. They are multiple activation. One DC license = as many as you want on any one piece of hardware. They charge per core, so make sure you pay for the same amount of cores you have on the hardware.

    Windows 10 licenses are separate, and singletons. You need to have licenses for each VM.

    Also, VDI licensing is a bit of a snarl, anyone who says they’re confident they understand Microsoft licensing is deluded or lying. You need various licenses to run Windows 10 virtualized in that fashion. I suggest you find someone who’s an expert at this stuff.

    When I tried to price out a VDI system for a small-ish company, it got so expensive in licenses alone it just wasn’t worth it.


  2. Your WS DC licenses cover 16 cores in each physical server. As long as you have Datacenter assigned to the physical host, you can run any number of Windows Server guests on the host.

    For a VDI deployment, you need the appropriate Windows Enterprise with SA license, OR a Windows VDI subscription for each user.

    You also need Windows Server CALs for your environment; if your users don’t share systems, you’ll likely go with per-user CALs instead of device.

    If your hosts are all licensed with Datacenter, you can move guests between the hosts as much as you want.

    You don’t need additional DC licenses if the total core count in each physical server does not exceed 16. After 16, you’ll need more.

  3. I actually have to work with folks on VDI licensing. I still get confused, frustrated, and pissed off.

    So, as of September, 2019:

    Instant clone Windows 10 systems in Horizon needs an on-prem activation system; KMS or Active Directory Activation. This requires a Volume Licensing Agreement. This is a Horizon requirement, not Microsoft.

    The short answer is you can either use Windows 10 Enterprise w/Software Assurance or Windows 10 VDA licenses in your VDI environment.

    However, and this is why my head hurts after talking to Microsoft, you aren’t actually licensing the VMs, **you are licensing the right to access the VMs.**

    With Software Assurance, the right to access up to four VMs simultaneously is included, so no additional license is needed. If you do not have (or can not get) software assurance, you need a VDA license.

    You need a VDA license for every non-SA covered company owned device that will access the environment. However, the primary user of any VDA licensed device is allowed roaming rights to access their VM from a non-corporate asset (like a Kiosk or a home PC).


    Guess what- SA and VDA are both subscription only. SA runs about $80/year and VDA runs around $95 (street pricing).

  4. Hey,

    1. You register your licences in the guest OS. You just have to make sure you have the right amout of licences for your cluster in your microsoft licencing portal or whatever
    2. Datacenter is just for running windows server no client OS, and yes you can run as many as you want in your licenced cluster. But if you do VDI you either need device or user CAL’s (client access licences) Device CAL’s are more expensive than user CAL’s but make more sense in e.g. a callcenter environment where you have like 100 thin clients, each beeing used by 4 different users
    3. No, since they’re not actually tied to a physical resource. If you add another host to the cluster you have to make sure via DRS rules, that no windows VM ever touches that host unless you purchase 2 new datacenter cpu licences. Ahh yeah…and you can’t mix licensing models on 1 host

    There is no build in way to ensure compliance with MS licencing, rather you have to ensure compliance yourself, wich is often tedious .

    Generally what we do is tag each windows VM upon creation and add them to a DRS-‘must run on host’-rule to ensure they only run on the licenced hosts in the cluster.


    hope that helps

  5. For your windows 10 licenses…. Licensing varies based on how you are accessing them. This gets dicey. For example if you are accessing them via fully licensed physical windows PCs, you’re fine as others have described. If your accessing them ever from devices like non-windows thin clients or zero clients you need a VDA subscription from Microsoft (which also includes the OS for the VMs themselves and they can freely move between hosts). This is very complicated and is 100% based on your situation.

    You can get around this by using data center per core licenses and license all cores on all hosts and running your guest OS as Server 20xx, though I’ve been told you DO need remote desktop Cal’s in place of VDA licenses, but i could be wrong. I’ve been using VDA as my licensing model since 2012 (been fully virtualized down to the desktop for nearly 8 years).

    For the VDA route you can license per user or per device. Per user only came out 3-4 years ago. Per decide is a pain because you can’t easily account for ALL devices your users connect from. We immediately switched to per user when it came out.

    Fair warning VDA is a subscription typically sold on 3 year increments, though you can do annualized payments through most VARs.

    You’re mileage may vary…

Leave a Reply