Microsoft Reveals Licensing Plans for Dual-Core Chips

The company says it will offer the same per-processor software licensing model for hardware containing dual-core and multicore technology.

Microsoft Corp. does not plan to change its per-processor software licensing model when hardware containing dual-core and multicore processor technology for the Windows platform becomes available next year.

The Redmond, Wash. software maker will announce on Tuesday that all its software currently licensed on a per-processor model will continue to be licensed that way for hardware that contains dual-core and multicore processors.

This policy applies to several products in the Windows Server System family, including SQL Server, BizTalk Server and others, Cori Hartje, Microsofts director of marketing and readiness in the worldwide licensing and partnering program, told eWEEK in an interview late Monday.

"For example, Microsoft SQL Server Standard edition will be able to run on a four-processor server with dual-core processors, utilizing all cores on the processors, and requiring just four licenses. Thats the same number of licenses required if the SQL Server software is running on a server with single-core processors," she said.

Hartje also stressed that the current version of SQL Server, the Windows Server 2003 family of products and associated Microsoft server applications that currently operate on todays server hardware would also run on the upcoming hardware with dual-core processors.

"This was recently demonstrated by [Advanced Micro Devices Inc.] on an HP ProLiant DL585 server powered by four dual-core AMD Opteron processors and running a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system," Hartje said.

Microsoft had also received a lot of industry feedback, especially from Intel Corp. and AMD, which showed that it "made sense for our technology to be licensed in the per processor mode. We really want our customers to take advantage of these enhanced technologies and of the growth and the speed that they will be able to get from that," she said.

Dual-core processors consist of two processing execution units, or cores, on one chip, and are viewed as a promising way to boost computing power, allowing servers, workstations and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously, Hartje said.

Both Intel and AMD plan to deliver dual-core processors for industry standards-based server hardware, and both companies product road maps include plans for multicore processors.

Intel executives have said that by the end of 2006 they expect more than 80 percent of the companys server products to be shipping with multicore technology.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels multicore plans.

Margaret Lewis, a commercial software strategist for AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., told eWEEK that the company was "extremely pleased that Microsoft has joined us in our leadership position pushing dual-core technology out into the market."

"If they hadnt done it, or if a vendor chooses not to do it, it would bring a layer of disruption to the existing software ecosystem. And you know, I think these vendors might find that their customers just say no to the software for dual-core systems. The customer might not exercise these options, but they could," she said.

Vendors of proprietary RISC systems, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, charge on a per-core basis; if a processor contains two cores, for example, a customer is charged for two "processors." The problem is that the definition of processor may become increasingly confused.

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