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).
For general information about how Compute Engine supports licensing Microsoft software on Google Cloud, see Microsoft licenses.
Windows Server FAQ
Licensing options FAQ
What licensing options are available on Compute Engine?
Purchase on-demand Windows Server or SQL Server licenses from Google: Buy premium images from Compute Engine that already include licenses. If you purchase an on-demand license from Google, Google is responsible for the license and reports license usage to Microsoft. With these images, you only pay-as-you-go. For more information, see the pricing for Windows Server images or the pricing for SQL Server images.
Bring your own licenses to sole-tenant nodes: Bring existing perpetual licenses to dedicated hardware to preserve your investments. If you bring your own licenses, Google provides a tool for determining license usage, which you can use to help with reporting your license usage to Microsoft. For information about which operating systems support bringing your own licenses, see Windows client and Windows Server.
Use License Mobility with Microsoft server applications: Deploy eligible Microsoft Windows application server licenses on Compute Engine by using License Mobility through Software Assurance.
Which licensing option do I use with my operating system?
Consult your licensing terms to determine whether Compute Engine supports your requirements, and then, to determine the most appropriate licensing option, see Microsoft licenses.
On-demand licenses FAQ
How are on-demand Windows Server instances licensed?
When you create an on-demand Windows Server instance on Compute Engine, Google includes the cost of the license with the cost of the instance. You do not need to purchase a license separately.
How does Windows Server licensing work if I create an on-demand instance from my own Windows Server image?
When you create an on-demand instance from your own Windows Server image, Google includes the cost of the license with the cost of the instance.
Do I need to purchase user Client Access Licenses (CALs) when I use an on-demand Windows Server or SQL Server image?
No. The CALs and their cost are included with the operating system image. You do not need to purchase user CALs.
Also, 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.
Are Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access Licenses (CALs) required for on-demand VM instances?
RDS CALs are not required unless you need more than two concurrent remote desktop sessions for administration purposes. If you need more than two concurrent remote desktop sessions, you must purchase additional RDS CALs. For more information, see License your RDS deployment with client access licenses (CALs).
License Mobility FAQ
Does Windows Server License Mobility let me use my Windows Server licenses on Compute Engine?
You can only use Windows Server License Mobility if you use the Windows Server licenses on sole-tenant nodes. Microsoft does not let you use License Mobility rights on Windows Server instances in a multi-tenant environment.
Can I use a Windows Server Volume License on a sole-tenant node if I do not have License Mobility?
Generally, you can't use Windows Server Volume Licenses purchased on or after October 1, 2019 on sole-tenant nodes. For more information, see Updated Microsoft licensing terms for dedicated hosted cloud services.
If the Windows Server version was released before October 1, 2019, you can, subject to the terms of the licensing agreement, use Windows Server licenses acquired before this date on sole-tenant nodes.
Microsoft makes exceptions for Windows Server licenses that meet the following conditions:
Acquired under existing enrollments with an effective date before October 1, 2019
Acquired after October 1, 2019 under Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement True-up (PDF download) ordering process
Purchased for Windows Server versions released before October 1, 2019
Image import FAQ
Can I customize the image import workflows?
Yes. You can customize the image import workflow. The image import workflows are available on GitHub.
Can I import images that are already running?
Yes. You can import images from VMs that are online and running.
After I import my BYOL image, can I share it?
Yes. After importing your BYOL image, you can share it with users outside your project or organization. Then, they can access the shared images from their project. For more information, see Managing access to custom images.
How are Windows Server instances licensed when I import an image with Windows Server Standard Edition license?
Google does not offer Windows Server Standard Edition licenses on a
pay-as-you-go basis. By default, Google uses pay-as-you-go Windows
Server Datacenter Edition licenses for VM instances created from Windows Server
Standard Edition images. However, if you specify the bring your own license
--byol) flag when you import an image, no pay-as-you-go licenses are applied.
Do I need a Software Assurance agreement from Microsoft to bring my own licenses to sole-tenant nodes?
No. You do not need a Software Assurance agreement from Microsoft to bring your own licenses to sole-tenant nodes. Such an agreement might be beneficial though because it might include rights for new versions.
What am I responsible for if I bring my own license?
If you bring your own licenses to Compute Engine, you are responsible for ensuring compliance with Microsoft. For more information, see Bring your own licenses to sole-tenant nodes.
If I bring my own licenses, do I need Client Access Licenses (CALs)?
Yes. If you supply the Windows Server license, you are responsible for purchasing any required CALs. Depending on how you configure and use Windows Server, you might need additional CALs for RDP or Rights Management Services. For more information, see License your RDS deployment with client access licenses (CALs).
For which versions of Windows operating systems can I bring my own license on sole-tenant nodes?
For information about the versions of the Windows operating system you can bring your own license for, see OS details.
For information about how to bring your own license, see Bringing your own licenses.
If I bring my own license to Compute Engine, how do I activate it?
If you import an image to Compute Engine that requires an existing license, you are responsible for activating the license. For more information, see Bringing your own licenses.
If you use a premium image, Google manages the license for you.
What are sole-tenant nodes?
Sole-tenant nodes are physical Compute Engine servers that you reserve exclusively for your project. Your project is the only project on any sole-tenant node that you reserve; no other customers can put their projects on a sole-tenant node after you reserve it.
What if I am eligible to run an earlier version of Windows Server on sole-tenant nodes, but later upgrade to a version of Windows Server that was released after October 1, 2019?
When you upgrade to a version of Windows Server that was released after October 1, 2019, you are subject to Microsoft's licensing terms for that version. Under these conditions, you can't use the Windows Server Volume Licenses on sole-tenant nodes.
Are VM licenses altered when updating the tenancy of a VM?
When you modify the tenancy of a VM, Compute Engine does not alter its license.
How does pricing work on sole-tenant nodes?
When you reserve a sole-tenant node, your project is the only project on that node, so you are billed for all of the vCPU and memory resources on the node, plus a 10% sole-tenancy premium. Because your project is the only project on the node, you can place as many or as few VMs on the node without incurring any additional costs, and there is no additional cost to support BYOL scenarios. For more information, see Sole-tenant node pricing.
Keep in mind that licensing and billing are determined by which operating system option you choose during the image import process, so if you use a Compute Engine public image as an image source, Google attaches on-demand licenses, and after you attach a license, you cannot change the licensing option for that VM.
Containers and virtualization FAQ
How many VMs can I run with each Windows Server Standard Edition license?
You can run two VMs for each Windows Server Standard Edition license; Windows Server Standard Edition is intended for use in physical server or lightly virtualized environments.
How many containers can I run on a server that is licensed with Windows Server Standard Edition?
Windows Server supports process-isolated Windows containers. A Windows Server Standard Edition license lets you host an unlimited number of process-isolated Windows containers.
How many VMs can I run on a server that is licensed with Windows Server Datacenter Edition?
You can run an unlimited number of Hyper-V virtual machines on physical servers with licenses for Windows Server Datacenter Edition.
How many containers can I host on a server that is licensed with Windows Server Datacenter Edition?
You can host an unlimited number of Hyper-V containers or Windows Server containers on physical servers with licenses for Windows Server Datacenter Edition.
Can I assign a Windows Server Datacenter Edition license to a sole-tenant node so that I can host an unlimited number of virtual machines or containers?
You can only assign a Windows Server Datacenter Edition license to a sole-tenant node if you are eligible to do so under Microsoft's updated outsourcing terms.
SQL Server FAQ
What are the options for running SQL Server on Compute Engine?
How do I license SQL Server when it is running in a VM instance?
When SQL Server is running in a VM, it is licensed on a per-core basis. The cost of the VM includes the cost of the license.
Can I use my own SQL Server image in a virtual machine?
Google provides pre-built SQL Server images for use in virtual machines, but you can also bring your own custom SQL Server image to use with Google-provided licenses. In either case, the cost of the virtual machine includes the cost of the on-demand SQL Server license.
Can I use License Mobility to run SQL Server on Compute Engine?
If you have License Mobility as part of Software Assurance, you can assign a SQL Server license to virtual machines running on multi-tenant hosts or on sole-tenant nodes.
Can I bring my own SQL Server licenses to sole-tenant nodes?
You can bring your own SQL Server licenses and images to sole-tenant nodes as long as you acquired the licenses before October 1, 2019.
You can't bring your own SQL Server licenses if you acquired them on or after October 1, 2019 unless the following conditions are true:
- You purchase Software Assurance or have equivalent subscription rights
- You exercise your License Mobility through Software Assurance benefit
Can I bring my own SQL Server licenses to sole-tenant nodes if I do not have Software Assurance?
You can bring a SQL Server license to sole-tenant nodes under the following conditions:
- You acquired the SQL Server license before October 1, 2019
- Your licensed version of SQL Server was released before October 1, 2019
- Your licensing terms do not expressly forbid you
You can also use a SQL Server license on sole-tenant nodes without Software Assurance under the following conditions:
You purchased the license before October 1, 2019 under the Enterprise Agreement True Up Order Process
You purchased the SQL Server software before October 1, 2019
Can I upgrade to a later version of SQL Server?
If you are using a version of SQL Server that was released before October 1, 2019, and decide to upgrade to a newer version, you can't use the SQL Server license on sole-tenant nodes unless you have a Software Assurance agreement or an equivalent subscription that allows License Mobility through Software Assurance.
What licensing models are supported for SQL Server deployments running on sole-tenant nodes?
Subject to Microsoft's terms, SQL Server running on sole-tenant nodes can be licensed as follows:
If I run SQL Server on sole-tenant nodes, are Client Access Licenses (CALs) required?
Yes. If you use License Mobility to run SQL Server on sole-tenant nodes, you must supply the required number of CALs.
Learn about the licensing options for Microsoft software on Compute Engine.
Learn more about sole-tenant nodes.
Learn more about the operating system images that Compute Engine provides.