SharePoint 2013 Licensing Simplified

Posted on 12/8/2012 @ 11:34 AM in #SharePoint by | Feedback | 19353 views

Before I begin, let me preface this by saying, I don't work for Microsoft, I don't sell SharePoint, this is merely my understanding of the SharePoint 2013 licensing model. As always, before making any money decisions based on the below, talk to your Microsoft rep. The below is just my understanding, you are responsible for any decision you may take.

With that aside, here is how I understand SharePoint 2013 licensing. Note that everything below is for on-prem SharePoint only. Also it goes without saying that you need to purchase windows server and SQL server licenses etc. on top of what you read below.

The Basics.

1.     You need to buy two things - the SharePoint server, and CALs.

2.     SharePoint server comes in SharePoint foundation, SharePoint Server.

3.     CALs can be either enterprise or standard, and they can be bought as CALs for SharePoint or a CAL suite which includes exchange and lync. CALs can also be purchased and user CAL or device CAL.

    1. If you buy CALs for Office 365, you also get on-premises CAL rights.

4.     There may be additional servers that you may have to purchase, such as Duet Enterprise, ACM server etc.


1.     FAST search is no longer a separate product. Every SKU of SharePoint uses FAST.

2.     SharePoint foundation has basic site collection search. SharePoint standard CAL has what can be considered as out of the box search. This includes best bets, people search, enterprise search, visual previews, etc.

3.     SharePoint enterprise CAL has all the extensibility and dev story on search. What is notable here is that the content by search webpart is available only in enterprise.

4.     No more search server. If you have search server, you get something like 100cals under SA I think.

Internet Facing Sites.

1.     You need SharePoint enterprise license CAL to use SharePoint for Internet facing sites. This means Internet facing sites in SharePoint 2013 are about 5x cheaper than what you used to pay in SharePoint 2010. Microsoft is probably loosing money on this. You can of course go even cheaper using office 365.

2.     There is also no FAST for Internet sites (or for intranet sites for that matter). It's all a part of the product now.

3.     Extranet users don’t need CALs (big deal). On-Premise has no limit for external users, for Office 365, you get 10,000 external users with enterprise plans, 500 with P plans.

4.     There is no SharePoint server for Internet sites.


1.     SharePoint 2010 style workflows are available in all SKUs of SharePoint. But in comparison to SharePoint 2013 style workflows, they suck big time.

2.     SharePoint 2013 style workflows that rely on workflow manager, are not available in SharePoint foundation.

Azure app hosting

1.     Details are to be made available in early 2013.

Duet enterprise.

1.     .. Will cost extra. You have to purchase licenses from sap.

Extranet licenses.

1.     There is no need to buy CALs for external users.

2.     You do need CALs for internal users.

3.     Office 365 users get 10000 external user CALs.

4.     External users means users that are not either your or your affiliates’ employees, or your or your affiliates’ onsite contractors or onsite agents.

5.     You don’t need SharePoint for internet facing sites – just install SharePoint enterprise


1.     SharePoint foundation does not have app marketplace or enterprise app catalog.

Sidenote: SharePoint foundation in 2013 in my opinion is severely gimped. I see SharePoint foundation as "let's pretend I have SharePoint" in 2013 - this wasn't the case in 2010.

External share by email

1.     This is available in office 365 only.


1.     Some basic features available in standard. But practically speaking if this is your target scenario, you're better off with enterprise.

2.     Note that there is a seperate product called ACM server which will be released in first half of 2013. This is estimated to cost half of SharePoint enterprise. Plus it will require enterprise CALs.

3.     For serious ECM, you have to go with on-prem, office 365 won't cut it. But things like machine translation, and automation services are available in standard.

Business intelligence.

1.     Just like ECM and WCM, you're better off with enterprise. All the cool stuff like access services, Visio services, excel services, powerview etc are part of the enterprise only.

2.     Plus you probably want to go with SQL server 2012 because a lot of the feature set depends on SQL server 2012.

3.     BCS is available everywhere but with different feature sets.

4.     Business intelligence is another scenario where I'd recommend on-prem over office 365.

Office web apps

1.     Read is free. Yay!

2.     Edit is also free - for external users. But internal users need office client licenses.


Sound off but keep it civil:

Older comments..

On 12/2/2012 6:04:51 AM Chris said ..
search server is free why would you get CALs given for that..

On 12/2/2012 6:12:19 AM Christian Heindel said ..
A great overview. Thank you.

On 12/2/2012 7:28:25 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Search server express is free.

On 12/2/2012 8:20:37 AM Haiyan Khan said ..
Great overview of licensing. Thank you so much!

MS seems to have made some good changes regarding licensing, they could have done a better job with I dont like the fact that they have marginalized SharePoint Foundation

On 12/2/2012 4:38:39 PM Matt said ..
Great overview! Thank you!

Can you back up some of the claims with references (i.e. TechNet)? Or did you find it out by trial and error?

Primarily I would be interested where it says that the "Search by Query WP" come only in enterprise and regarding WCM I wonder what do you consider "basic functionality" and what is missing compared to enterprise.

Unfortunately I haven't found yet a license feature comparison page from MS like there is for SP2010 :-(

On 12/3/2012 10:44:00 PM Eugene Rosenfeld said ..
Great post! You might also want to mention that SharePoint 2013 is no longer supported as an install on Windows Web Server. This closes a very useful licensing loophole that made CALs unnecessary in some situations.

On 12/4/2012 12:08:45 AM Jason said ..
SharePoint Server 2013 has only one license as per Microsoft in this article:

On 12/4/2012 12:27:04 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Eugene - good tip. I hadn't thought of that aspect :).


I couldn't see where MJF talks about a single server license.

Are you referring to this excerpt -- "in the main unified server license. Previously, access to those technologies required separate or different licenses" ..

? If so, there are still two licenses. I believe what she means is that there is no seperate FAST license, or FIS license etc.


On 12/4/2012 3:07:34 AM Leon Zandman said ..
You say: "SharePoint enterprise has all the extensibility and dev story on search."

This seems to imply SharePoint Enterprise has additional search features on top of the things you get with Standard. Is that true?

I ask, because for SharePoint 2010 this wasn't the case. SharePoint 2010 Search was exactly the same between Standard and Enterprise, even though Microsoft's product comparison matrix seemed to imply otherwise. All the extra Search features listed as Enterprise features were actually part of FAST Search, which as you know was sold separately.

On 12/4/2012 6:55:41 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Leon, yes that is true. All the cool dev stuff like entity extraction, web service call out etc. is an enterprise only thing.


On 12/4/2012 8:12:00 AM Jason said ..
Here is another reference to one version of SharePoint 2013. There is def some confusion surrounding licenses of Sharepoint 2013.

On 12/4/2012 10:06:19 PM Joe said ..
If I have two internal SharePoint farms (same SQL server) and the same let's say 100 users use them both, do I just buy 2 SharePoint Server CALs and use the same 100 user CALs, or do I need 200 user calls (1 user CAL per farm)?

On 12/6/2012 5:32:36 PM Johan Klövstedt said ..
Actually you would need to add SQL and Win Server to this list. I really don't think it's appropriate to marginalize these requirements. These products do cost money to...

On 12/7/2012 5:03:25 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Johan - exactly, and I said in the beginning "Also it goes without saying that you need to purchase windows server and SQL server licenses etc. on top of what you read below." .. and yes they do cost $, lots of $.

Eugene also mentioned in a comment that you can no longer go with the el-cheapo windows server license either. Bummer. Well I guess MSFT has to make money too :)

On 12/10/2012 1:33:09 PM Bob said ..
OK... so if we are covered under our EA with Software Assurance for 4 SharePoint Enterprise server licenses, I know we get SharePoint 2013 and all the features including FAST, Internet site, etc.

Does the licensing change for Enterprise entitle use to use FAST on our existing SP 2010 farm, since it is now part of the Enterprise license?

On 12/11/2012 9:06:29 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Bob, you'd have to confirm this with your MSMonkey, but my gut feeling is, the answer is "No". Also FAST as a seperate product is continued to be sold, so I am pretty sure buying SP2013 doesn't entitle you to free FAST licenses.

On 1/25/2013 3:07:46 PM Mike said ..
Hi, Nice summary

You mentioned:

Internet Facing Sites.

1. You need SharePoint enterprise license CAL to use SharePoint for Internet facing sites. This means Internet facing sites in SharePoint 2013 are about 5x cheaper than what you used to pay in SharePoint 2010. Microsoft is probably loosing money on this. You can of course go even cheaper using office 365.

I`m not sure you can use Office 365 as an Internet facing site...

On 1/26/2013 1:54:17 PM Sahil Malik said ..

You can use O365 as an internet facing site.

But there are some notable feature differences between on premises and O365 which make me feel that O365 is fine for simple small shops to setup their internet facing site, but not for large corps. Large corps will I think still prefer On Premises SharePoint for internet facing sites.


On 2/6/2013 2:27:44 AM Fahad Ahmed said ..
Hi Sahil,

Thanks for simplifying the mystery.Just a small doubt, you had mentioned:

"You need SharePoint enterprise license CAL to use SharePoint for Internet facing sites."

Does that mean I have to buy this for Internet facing website on SP2013 :

SharePoint Server 2013 + (Enterprise CAL OR Standard CAL(depending on the features that XYZ company)).

Am new to licensing and it was a little confusing for me, as it is mentioned on the official site:

"In SharePoint 2013, for Extranet and Internet sites scenarios, no CALs are required for External Users."

Although it is mentioned that the SP2010's FIS-S,FIS-E,Search Server and FAST Search Server SKU's are discontinued. Am I right in my assumption for the internet sites licensing?