Microsoft's new licensing rules for Windows Server aggressively pushing people towards Azure

What you need to know

  • Changes to Windows Server licensing will cause companies to pay more to use clouds other than Azure.
  • The move is considered controversial by many in industries that use cloud computing.
  • Licenses purchased before October 1, 2019 are unaffected.

Microsoft made several changes to the Windows Server licensing terms (opens in new tab) that result in companies paying extra to use a cloud other than Azure (via Last Week in AWS). The move has been slammed by AWS and Google cloud leaders. The licensing change doesn't affect any licenses purchased before October 1, 2019.

The changes are considered controversial because to many, it feels like Microsoft is aggressively pushing companies towards Azure. The licensing changes mean that companies that purchase licenses after October 1, 2019 will have to pay significantly more to use a cloud other than Microsoft Azure for Windows workloads. This change will primarily affect companies who rely on Amazon Web Serivices (AWS), which is the current cloud market leader.

Companies have sophisticated server, and cloud setups that can't be changed at the drop of a hat. Many companies aren't going to switch away from Windows Server or switch to Azure.

The changes are being poorly received by many in the media and apparently come as a surprise to some at Microsoft. In Last Week on AWS's report, several people at Azure expressed surprise at the changes saying things along the lines of "Wait, what are you talking about? We did what with licenses?! You're kidding me. Let me get back to you."

These changes line up more with older Microsoft policies than the new and more open Microsoft that's been seen in recent years.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • The "new and more open MS" is a mirage and it's sad WC, and many, have taken the cheese. Just ask anyone who has purchased a lot of VLs the past few years and then coincidentally been "invited" to participate in a license audit within a few months.
  • If people didn't fudge and cheat on licenses no audits would occur. We just spent $80,000 to fix a "so-called" engineers correct license deployment because he under ignorantly purchased 24 core licenses when it should have been 160 cores. This is pathetically easy to count with a simple script, but sometimes people are just lazy or criminal in some cases. That wasn't Microsoft's fault, it was the engineers fault.
  • What did you expect? Nadella only cares about short term gains. That clearly showed when he started ******* on the old Windows fans as soon as he came to power.
  • Windows Phone was dead. Ballmer killed it by waiting too long and then not investing in people to make the apps.
    Music was dead too because again they waited too long before adding it to other platforms.
    The Band was a good idea but again they were behind.
    Nadella has turned Microsoft around and finally has given the competition something that improves all products for everyone. This announcement if it sours too many people will be pulled just like they tried to do with office.
  • Balmer only invested in people making the apps, that was the issue. You motivate developers by giving them users. Balmer should have been spending that money on developing Windows Phone into something people wanted to use instead of leaving it to die on the vine.
  • First no Microsoft Home Use Program anymore and now this. Microsoft will abuse their customers with these bait and switch tactics. Hopefully the cloud backfires on Microsoft hard.
  • The HUP program is still alive but you now use discounted Office 365 vs the old method. What are you talking about? It is more expensive, but still costs less than a typical subscription.
  • Where is the added value of this article? These recent changes with Software Insurance also apply to Azure btw
  • Got a source link to confirm this?
  • Yea I don't think Amazon and Google exploiting a licensing loophole that is now being closed isn't something to complain about. Yea it sucks but for real you should have been doing the right thing.
  • They want people to pay them money? Outrageous!!!
  • AWS and Google are exploiting a loophole. This is MS fixing it.