I was navigated over here from Stack Overflow, hopefully you can help me out.

So I've got a dilemma. Our company has bought a volume license for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition. We purchased the per core license scheme. All of that didn't have any issues; we even installed it without any problems.

The issue is coming from Microsoft though. When I configured our Volume License Account they said:

We will issue a special installation file that will not require a key for usage. In order to install this to the proper processor allocation you purchased you'll need to install the file that many times.

So from what I've gathered, a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition Per-Core License by default is configured as a dual-core. So I understand if I have a quad-core I have to purchase it twice. What I don't understand, why would I need to install it two times?

I can't find any documentation on this.

That process doesn't seem correct, is there a way to test how many cores SQL is running on? Any assistance would be terrific-

Things I've Tried:

  • SQL Installation Guide
  • SQL Getting Started
  • Calling Microsoft

Some how I feel this issue shouldn't be nearly as complicated as it has become.

Those haven't let me come any closer to my goal, I get the notion that I should only have to install it once. But with what that Microsoft Licensing Technician said I suddenly have a cloud of doubts over my head.

Thanks again.


So within our Microsoft Volume License Account this is all it provides with our download:

No Key Required. Description

Which I feel is adding to this confusion. We have it installed on the Server; but I'm not entirely sure if I can check to see that it is running all cores. The receipt shows we've purchased multiple licenses-

If I understand the answer posted; it should be built into our license file from the installation. Is there a way to check that?

2 Answers 2


Have never encountered anything remotely like this and suspect something has been lost in translation. I will of course apply the usual caveat for licensing questions, "don't take anything you read here as gospel, check it with your licensing partner, and Microsoft, and call both back to speak to a different individual. There's a good chance you'll get a different answer the second time around".

You get a key, you install the software. Any CPU limitation is a product of the physical environment or version of SQL Server. For standard edition that is:

Limited to lesser of 4 Sockets or 16 cores [source]

A volume license agreement is essentially a discount pricing arrangement, it does not involve a different installation, key distribution policy or CPU utilisation limitation:

If you plan to buy five or more software licenses, Microsoft offers price advantages for volume purchasing. Discover how Microsoft Volume Licensing can help your organisation realise its goals and find out what customers and analysts have to say about it. [source]

Licensing is always complex. Microsoft licensing is at least as complex as other vendors. Unfortunately, my experience has been that they have not yet mastered the art of training their own, or their resellers employees about license models.

There is much fun to be had by locking a Microsoft licensing specialist in a room with a reseller specialist and watching them argue about the finer points of SQL Server or MSDN license arrangements. If you think SQL Server is a minefield, try MSDN.

NB: The "helpful" diagram at the top of the article explaining edition compute capacity limits neatly demonstrates why folk lose their way.

  • Thanks for the response, that was I think the part that truly confused me. When I click for our "Key" we don't have one associated to our account.
    – Greg
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 21:15
  • 2
    Download, install, off you go. Save berating the licensing technician for when you're having a bad day and need to vent at someone. Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 21:23
  • So you think the installation file should already contain the optimizations for the cores?
    – Greg
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 21:26
  • There are no core limitations in the license file, as far as I'm aware. Standard is limited as per the link in my answer, not the license file. It's conscience and the looming large of the Microsoft legal department that stops you paying for 2 cores and running on 16. (NB: see earlier caveat + get written signed in blood confirmation from Microsoft). Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 21:32

If you want to see how many physical cores SQL server are using (1 physical core maps to 1 logical processor, unless hyperthreading is turned on), you can run the query below to return the number of schedulers (1 scheduler is mapped to 1 logical processor) available for processing,

FROM sys.dm_os_schedulers
WHERE scheduler_id < 1048576 AND [status] = 'VISIBLE ONLINE';

Each row per scheduler. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms177526.aspx

  • Thanks, I took your advice and ran a Query it looks like it is running on 8 logical processors, 4 physical cores.
    – Greg
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 18:37

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