Will LCOW count as Hyper-V containers for the licensing model?

New Contributor

On, it becomes clear that the Standard version of Windows Server 2016 only supports 2 Hyper-V based containers. We are currently migrating our full system towards containers, both Windows and Linux payloads, and looking at the new Linux Containers on Windows available in 1709 to run our Linux payloads as containers through Hyper-V. This way, we can keep our cloud-based and on-premise deployments based on exactly the same containers. But will we be able to use the Standard version at the customer's on-premise site?

3 Replies

The Standard edition (note, not version, but edition), only supports two virtualized instances of Windows Server for every time the cores within the physical host are licensed (whether those instances are used for containers or not is immaterial), whereas Datacenter edition supports unlimited virtualization. This isn't a licensing rule for Hyper-V, it's a licensing rule for the OS - so regardless of the hypervisor you use, those are the rules you must follow to license virtualized instances of Windows Server. For your Windows Server workloads, then no, Standard edition will quickly become cost prohibitive if you're using Hyper-V for containers, and you'd want to use Datacenter edition.


For Linux, however, containerize your heart out. You license the host, and Standard edition will suffice, and you can run as many VMs of Linux as you want.


Let me know if this doesn't clarify the rules  for you.


Wes Miller

Research Analyst

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Thanks for your answer. It comes down though to whether LCOW containers are seen as Hyper-V containers or not, since they're a kind of special implementation using LinuxKit as a small linux kernel to run linux based payloads through Hyper-V. No real VM gets spun up in the background, so I'm not sure if this is equivalent to "running as much Linux VM's through Hyper-V" as you'd like. I guess so?

best response confirmed by Bart Verstrynge (New Contributor)

The document you originally linked to is a licensing guide for Windows Server 2016, not the version 1709 release - as such, it's no longer accurate.


In terms of whether LCOW containers count... no, they don't. That rule is in place because Standard edition only includes the rights to virtualize two instances of the OS on top of the physical host, for every time you license the cores on the host. Since LCOW isn't using virtualized Windows Server underneath it, there's no applicability, and no hard limit as there was when Hyper-V Containers first shipped and could only run Windows. (But that limit still applies if you're using Hyper-V Containers on Windows).