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Windows Server 2012 Editions

Here you find a quick overview over the available editions

Edition Purpose Features POSE Instances VOSE Instances Retail Volume Licensing OEM Licensing RAM-Limit
Windows Server 2012 Foundation Small companies, which do not want to use virtualization technology and only need basic funtionality Basic server functionality. No virtualization. 1 0 No No Yes Server which is limited to 15 user accounts 32 GB RAM
Windows Server 2012 Essentials Small companies Easy GUI, some prededfined connectivity to Microsoft cloud solutions. No virtualization, but can be runed virtualizised. 1 (POSE or VOSE) 1 (POSE or VOSE) Yes Yes Yes Server which is limited to 25 user accounts 64 GB RAM
Windows Server 2012 Standard Companies which want to use a "little" virtualization Complete functionality with two virtual instances 1 2 Yes Yes Yes Server & cal needed 4 TB RAM
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter High virtualizised private & hybrid cloud Complete functionality with any virtual instances 1 Unlimited No Yes Yes Server & cal needed 4 TB RAM

POSE - Physical operating system environment
VOSE - Virtual operating system environment