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How many licenses should I buy for my virtualized environment?

I have one physical server with one CPU and with Windows 2003 Standard. I have installed Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2. I have one virtual machine running Windows 2003 Standard. How many licenses of Windows 2003 Standard x86 do I need to buy? One or two?

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In a situation like this, you'd probably need two licenses: one for the host operating system, and one for the guest.

There has been one important change in the way Microsoft licenses for virtual environments, though: you only have to obtain licenses for the total number of images that are going to be running concurrently at any one time. So if you have, say, five virtual machine images but only use one of them at any one time, you only need one operating system license for that machine.

This was first published in October 2007

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