Microsoft created Windows Server as an operating system to be used exclusively on servers. Compared to Windows desktop operating systems, Windows Server is a more powerful version. As such, the Server runs constantly and effectively manages corporate networking as it administers recourse to the other computers. Due to this functionality, Windows Server is mostly used in the business environment. Windows Server 2022 was released from Microsoft in September 2021. Below you can read more about the differences between the three versions of Windows Server - Standard, Datacenter, and Essentials.
Windows Server 2022 Standard
The basic version of Windows Server is the Standard edition. It is intended for physical machines or environments with minimal virtualisation. Essentially, this version has the same range of functions and hardware requirements as the Datacenter license with a few exceptions. The most prominent difference between Windows Server 2022 Standard and Datacenter is the number of supported virtual machines (VM). The Datacenter version allows the use of an unlimited number of VM, while the Standard license supports two VM.
Windows Server 2022 Datacenter
Different from the Standard edition, Windows Server 2022 Datacenter is meant to be used on highly virtualized datacenters and cloud environments. Additionally, this version supports an unlimited amount of virtual machines which, however, does not exclude the need for CALs.
Windows Server 2022 Essentials
Windows Server Essentials is intended for smaller businesses, with up to 25 users and 50 devices. This version does not require CALs since it is a server license but it is limited to 10 cores. In terms of features, there are no differences compared to the Windows Server Standard edition.
Windows Server 2022 User & Device CALs
Windows Server CAL is short for Client Access License. CALs are licenses that provide users or devices with the right to access the services of the server. Older versions of CALs cannot be used for newer licenses. This means that if you have a 2019 CAL and you want to currently use Windows Server 2022, you will need a 2022 CAL. However, you can reuse newer CALs for older versions of Windows Server.
Windows Server 2022 User CALs, as the name suggests, are bound to the user who is accessing the license irrespectively of the specific device used. Similarly, Windows Server 2022 Device CALs are access licenses for devices and do not depend on which users are using them. This means that if a company has many employees who use a limited number of devices, Device CALs would be more beneficial. If a few employees are accessing the Windows Server from multiple devices (working from distance), then User CALs are the right choice.
Windows Server 2022 Standard vs. Datacenter vs. Essentials
The hardware requirements of Windows Server 2022 for the versions Standard and Datacenter are identical. Both editions require a 64-bit CPU, 1.4GHz and 512MB of RAM. The most prominent difference between the Standard and the Datacenter versions consists in the number of virtual machines that the licenses support. For the Standard version, the maximum is 2, while for the Datacenter there is no maximum.
Another difference between the versions is the requirements for CALs. The Client Access License is only needed for the core-based Windows Servers – Standard and Datacenter. Since Windows Server Essentials is a server license, no calls are needed.
Bigger companies should consider Windows Datacenter, while smaller ones can opt for Windows Server Essentials in case they fit the requirement for maximum devices (50) and users (25). A third option is Windows Server Standard which is the basic version. The table below illustrates the differences between the licenses visually.