Update (March 2017): After this post was created, Microsoft clarified that this promotion only applies to customers with an Enterprise Agreement (EA). If you don’t have an EA, then you will not be eligible for the free licensing. This post has been modified to reflect this new information.
First, Windows 10 for free … now Windows Server 2016?! Microsoft is just giving away licenses left and right!
Microsoft recently announced they will be running a promotion on Windows Server 2016 Datacenter from September 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. If you are currently using VMware, are willing to migrate to Hyper-V instead, and have an Enterprise Agreement, Microsoft wants to give you some free licensing for Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. They want you to say goodbye to VMware once and for all! In addition to the promotional offer, they are aggressively promoting the message that the total cost of ownership for Windows Server is a fraction of the cost of using VMware.
You can check out Microsoft’s data for yourself here.
Mirazon is a partner with both Microsoft and VMware, so I won’t give you a recommendation one way or the other. We recommend and support both Hyper-V and vSphere. However, I do want to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision, and if you would like to discuss the specifics of your situation, our engineers would be happy to talk with you about it.
Free Windows Server licensing … So what’s the catch? Well, for one thing you need to provide proof of eligibility to your reseller before you get your free licenses. I don’t have details on that yet, but I doubt it will be a big deal. Microsoft just wants some proof that you are currently using VMware and that you are planning to switch to Hyper-V.
One other thing: you must buy Software Assurance in order to get the free licenses of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. So yes, the licenses are free. And yes, you must purchase something in order to get the free licenses.
Overall, it’s not a bad deal. For the cost of SA, you can get perpetual licenses of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. Even if you never renew the SA, you can keep using those licenses forever.
But just giving you free licensing only overcomes some of the challenges of pulling this off. Don’t forget that this migration is going to take some manpower. You may have internal employees that can do it, but you might also need assistance from an IT consulting firm, such as Mirazon. All of those man-hours add to the bottom line of this migration project.
And overall, I like this trend. First, free upgrade licenses for Windows 10. Now (kind of) free licenses for Windows Server. Things are moving the right direction. Yes, Microsoft can be a pain sometimes. And yes, their licensing rules are often confusing, but don’t say they never gave you anything.
For more information on the promotion, you can go to this Windows Server blog.
Microsoft also makes their case for switching from VMware to Hyper-V.
And if you’re looking for details on the various features of Windows Server 2016, you can check out Mirazon’s blog series.