Windows Server Editions: Standard and Datacenter Comparison

Windows Server comes in several editions to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. For example, the Enterprise edition offers advanced storage and virtualization capabilities, while the Datacenter edition provides unlimited VMs. But understanding the differences between these two editions can be difficult for non-technical users. This article will help you make the right choice for your business.


The Standard edition is the cheapest and best choice for small businesses. It is perfect for web hosting and provides a complete server system capable of handling most websites’ demands. This system has several technologies such as Software-defined Networking, Storage Spaces Direct and other features that allow you to scale your infrastructure efficiently. It also includes support for Linux and Windows containers. However, this version does have some limitations, such as the fact that it only permits up to two OSEs per license and one Hyper-V host per license.

In contrast, the Datacenter version is a highly virtualized system ideal for cloud environments and data centers. This solution is suited for servers that require high levels of virtualization and scalability, such as database servers and OLTP applications. The Datacenter edition is also equipped with a comprehensive security feature that provides a range of capabilities, including secure boot and BitLocker drive encryption. The licensing of the Windows Server 2019 standard edition is core-based, meaning each physical processor must be licensed. It can be challenging for non-technical users, especially if they are not working with an IT expert. 


When selecting between the different editions of Windows Server, choosing the right one for your business is important. The wrong choice could mean spending money on a version that doesn’t meet your requirements or has extra features that increase costs. It is also important to understand the different capabilities of each edition so that you don’t end up purchasing a solution that has more functionality than you need. The Standard edition is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses that require minimal virtualization. It offers a cost-effective option for organizations with limited IT budgets. The standard can be installed as either Server Core or with Desktop Experience, which includes a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Server Core is more efficient than the desktop experience and requires less RAM, disk space and CPU resources. It also has a smaller attack surface and provides better resistance to cyber-attacks.

The Datacenter edition has a more advanced feature set than the Standard edition. It is better suited for environments with high levels of virtualization or running cloud-based environments. It supports using all containers and does not limit the number of containers you can run on a single physical server. It can be activated as a guest or host, and it includes Software-defined networking and Storage Spaces Direct, which provide outstanding performance and efficiency for local storage.


Choosing the right Microsoft Windows Server edition can take time and effort, especially for non-technical users. Many different types of licenses are available, each with benefits and restrictions. For example, the Standard version suits small and medium-sized businesses with limited virtualization needs. However, if your business requires more advanced features and scalability, the Datacenter edition is better suited for you. The Standard and Datacenter editions use processor-based licensing, where each license covers up to two physical processors on a single server. It is the same as with previous versions of Windows Server but with a few exceptions. The definition of a socket is now the same as that of a core.

While the Standard edition offers unlimited virtual instances, it can only host up to two Hyper-V hosts per licensed server. On the other hand, the Datacenter version can host complete virtual models and has no limitation on Hyper-V hosts. It also includes several unique product features, which allow you to run trusted software and manage the keys required to start shielded virtual machines. Moreover, the Datacenter edition can replicate and back up volumes in real-time without losing data. It helps you to quickly and effectively restore your website in case of disaster. 


As its name implies, the Datacenter edition is appropriate for settings that demand a high degree of virtualization. The product comes with unique product features such as Shielded Virtual Machines and Storage Spaces Direct that allow you to manage, deploy and scale your cloud environment. Additionally, it provides the ability to implement Software-defined Networking (SDN), simplifying the management of your physical and virtual networks. Licensing options for Standard and Datacenter editions differ in a few ways, with the biggest difference being the number of VMs each can support. The license for standard allows two operating system environments (OSEs) or any number of Windows Server containers with Hyper-V isolation and unlimited Windows Server containers without Hyper-V isolation. Different OSEs and Hyper-V containers can be licensed on a server using add-on licenses.

The Datacenter license offers unlimited VMs, so if you need to run multiple instances, it might be more cost-effective for your business to opt for this version. Similarly, the base license for the Lenovo OEM Datacenter and Standard editions is based on processor sockets (physical CPU cores) rather than logical cores. It is so that the minimum number of base licenses required is the same across all types of processors in your server, regardless of the underlying hardware configuration. Additional core licenses can be purchased in 2-core- or 16-core packs, depending on your needs.