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 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