Microsoft has recently published more information about the Windows Server 2012 editions(and also the possible pricing). More information are also available on:

Editions Overview

Edition Ideal for… High Level Feature
Licensing Model Pricing
Open NL (US$)
Datacenter Highly virtualized
private & hybrid
cloud environments
Full Windows
Server functionality
with unlimited
virtual instances
Processor + CAL* $4,809**
Standard Low density or non-
Full Windows
Server functionality
with two virtual
Processor + CAL* $882**
Essentials Small business
Simpler interface,
connectivity to
cloud based services; no
virtualization rights
Server (25 User
Account Limit)
Foundation Economical general
purpose server
General purpose
server functionality
with no
virtualization rights
Server (15 User
Account Limit)
OEM Only

*CALs are required for every user or device accessing a server directly or indirectly. See theProduct Use Rights for details.
**Pricing represents Open No Level (NL) ERP. For your specific pricing, contact your Microsoft reseller.


How does it changed for virtualization? As you can see the Enterprise edition is no more available (according to the FAQ: Enterprise edition will be retired as part of the Windows Server 2012 release) so the right solutions become the Datacenter edition. This is already usual today for medium and large environment, but for some small environment the Enterprise edition was a possible choice to reduce the cost. Standard now provide 2 instance for virtualization (but are not the 4 of the Enterprise).