Microsoft licenses

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When you use Microsoft software, you are responsible for understanding and complying with any licensing agreements that you might have with Microsoft. Google provides this documentation only to describe the licensing options that are available to you on Google Cloud. For detailed information about your licenses or software rights, work with your legal team, license vendor, or consult the Microsoft Licensing Guide for Google Cloud (PDF download).

This document describes how Compute Engine supports the following licensing options for Microsoft software:

This document also provides a flowchart to help you choose a licensing option.

Purchase on-demand Windows Server or SQL Server licenses from Google

On-demand licenses for Microsoft software are new licenses that are provided by Google and that do not require an up-front investment nor a long-term commitment. With on-demand licenses, you pay-as-you-go only for the cost of running the VMs to which the licenses are attached, and the stated cost of the VM includes the cost of the licenses. Licenses for Microsoft software are typically not eligible for discounts. For information about other software that is not eligible for discounts, see Discount Exclusions.

Use on-demand licenses for Windows Server or SQL Server by creating an instance from a pre-built premium image in the Compute Engine image catalog or from Google Cloud Marketplace. When you use one of these images, Google provides an on-demand license and attaches it to the image, and Google maintains the image for you.

Custom images

Client Access Licenses (CALs)

  • The cost of two concurrent remote desktop sessions is included with the on-demand Windows Server or SQL Server image. If you need more than two concurrent remote desktop sessions, you must purchase Remote Desktop Session (RDS) Client Access Licenses (CALs). For more information, see License your RDS deployment with client access licenses (CALs).

  • Active Directory domain controller VMs running in a Managed Microsoft Active Directory domain or any Windows VMs that are domain-joined to such a domain do not require any additional CALs. For more information, see Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory documentation.


  • If you use on-demand licenses from Google, Google ensures compliance with the licensing requirements and managing the reporting of license usage.


Bring your own licenses to sole-tenant nodes

If you have existing investments in perpetual Microsoft licenses that require dedicated hardware, you can bring these licenses to Google Cloud by using Compute Engine's sole-tenant nodes, which are physical servers that you reserve and that host only VMs from your project. For information about which operating system image licenses you can bring to sole-tenant nodes, see OS details.

Using these licenses on sole-tenant nodes might be more cost effective than using on-demand Microsoft licenses. For example, some licensing agreements allow unlimited virtualization with physical core licenses. In this case, you can bring your own licenses to sole-tenant nodes, and then overcommit the CPUs on your sole-tenant VMs. When bringing existing licenses, you are not billed again for your licenses; you are only billed for the Compute Engine infrastructure—sole-tenant nodes—that you reserve.

In most cases, sole-tenant nodes fully support per-core and per-CPU licenses, and can host Windows Server, SQL Server, and Microsoft application servers. Sole-tenant nodes also support SQL Server licenses that are eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance.


Using License Mobility with Microsoft server applications

License Mobility helps existing Software Assurance customers running Microsoft application servers transition to Google Cloud and lets you continue to purchase perpetual licenses. Compute Engine lets you import Microsoft images, apply existing application licenses to the imported images, and then deploy Microsoft server applications on Google Cloud without paying additional licensing fees to Microsoft for those applications.

With License Mobility, you are responsible for managing true ups and renewals according to your agreements. For the licenses to remain valid, you must maintain your Software Assurance plan through Microsoft.

You can use licenses covered by Microsoft Software Assurance on sole-tenant nodes or multi-tenant hosts. For per-core or per-processor licenses that have dedicated hardware requirements, you must use sole-tenant nodes to bring your existing licenses.


  • You must be an existing Microsoft Volume Licensing customer with eligible server applications that are covered by active Software Assurance contracts with License Mobility.

  • You must maintain appropriate Client Access Licenses (CALs) with Software Assurance in your Volume Licensing agreement.

  • After deploying a license within a region, you cannot move that license to another region for 90 days. For more information, see the Microsoft Product Terms site.


License Mobility requirements for SQL Server

The number of licenses required for running SQL Server on a Compute Engine Windows instance depends on the version of SQL Server and the machine type of the instance.

Microsoft's Services Provider Use Rights (SPUR) states that you must assign one license for each Virtual Core in each Virtual Operating System Environment (OSE), with a minimum of 4 licenses per OSE. In Compute Engine, a VM instance is the equivalent of a Virtual OSE, and one Compute Engine vCPU is the equivalent of a Virtual Core. Therefore:

  • If you are planning to run SQL Server on a Compute Engine instance with 4 or more vCPUs, you must assign a license for each vCPU.

  • If you run an instance with 2 or fewer vCPUs, you must still assign 4 Virtual Core licenses.

If you are using SQL Server Enterprise Edition, you might have additional use rights. For detailed information about License Mobility requirements for SQL Server, see Microsoft Services Provider Use Rights or the licensing guide for SQL Server.

Instead of using License Mobility, you can purchase on-demand licenses by using a SQL Server instance, which is a Windows Server instance that includes an installation of SQL Server. With this image, Google manages the licensing of both Windows Server and SQL Server and you pay-as-you-go.

Verification of License Mobility

To use License Mobility, you must complete the license verification process, during which Microsoft ensures that your licenses are eligible for License Mobility. You can submit your License Mobility information for verification through Google or directly to Microsoft. Microsoft provides confirmation to you and to Google after verification is complete.

For specific information about your License Agreement, including how to determine your Microsoft Agreement Identifying Number, see the License Summary FAQ.

Submit License Mobility information through Google

Use the License Mobility verification form to submit your License Mobility information through Google. You can access this form directly or when you are creating a VM in the Google Cloud console.

Submit License Mobility information directly to Microsoft

  1. Visit Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center.

  2. Read the License Mobility through Software Assurance Verification Guide for Customers (PDF download).

  3. Specify Google as the Authorized Mobility Partner by using the following information:

    • Authorized Mobility Partner Name: Google LLC
    • Authorized Mobility Partner Website URL:
    • Authorized Mobility Partner Email Address:

Choosing between on-demand licenses and bringing existing licenses

The following flowchart can help you determine whether to purchase new on-demand licenses from Google or to bring your existing licenses to Google Cloud.

Choosing between on-demand licenses and bringing existing licenses.

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