Windows server 2012 comes in different flavors in which if you plan to download it as an ISO image or to purchase, you could get only two flavors as:
- Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition
- Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition
Thanks to Microsoft, no need to revolve our head around asking what’s the difference between these two editions? No difference in functionality or hardware limitations. So, you may ask why then two editions? The answer lies in the Virtualization rights of the editions. Standard edition licenses upto 2 virtual instances whereas datacenter provides licenses for unlimited virtual instances.
Of course there are other flavors too like:
- Windows Server 2012 Foundation server
- Windows Server 2012 Essentials
- Windows Multipoint Server 2012 Standard
- Windows Multipoint Server 2012 Premium
- Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012
- Windows storage Server 2012 workgroup
- Windows storage Server 2012 standard
These flavors are available only through OEM. Foundation server is designed for organisations with up to 15 users who need a general purpose server. The limit cannot be expanded as well as it is not virtualization supported.
Essentials support up to 25 users and provide basic functionalities of backup/restore. But as like Foundation server, this also doesn’t support virtualization.
Hyper-V server 2012 is free to download, but doesn’t provide any free virtual machine licenses. The hosted virtual machines should be individually licensed.
Storage server is specifically designed to use with network attached storage (NAS) devices. Offers you a platform to build storage appliances that are customized for the hardware. Main difference between the 2 flavors of Storage server is that workgroup doesn’t support dhcp, dns, failover clustering, data deduplication etc.
Multipoint servers allows multiple users, each with their own independent windows experience to simultaneously share a single computer. Standard allows up to 10 simultaneously connected stations whereas premium allows up to 20 numbers. Also standard doesn’t support domain joining or virtualization whereas premium supports domain joining and virtualization with 1+1 licensing model.