SQL Server 2022 Paid Editions Require a Licensing Key.

SQL Server 2022

For the final release of SQL Server 2022, Microsoft popped a surprise that wasn’t in the release candidates:

Your choices are:

  • Install a free edition: Evaluation (which times out after 180 days), Developer (which isn’t allowed to be used for production purposes), or Express (which is limited to small databases & hardware resources)
  • Use pay-as-you-go-billing, which requires you to connect the SQL Server to your Azure account
  • Put in a product key if you want to use Standard, Enterprise, or Web Edition


Microsoft deserves to get paid for their work, just like you, dear reader.

This is a significant change from past behaviors, taking us back to the days of SQL Server 2000 (or thereabouts?) when we had to put in license keys. Back then, the setup process simply validated the key, but didn’t phone home to Microsoft to see if the key was being used repeatedly across lots of SQL Servers.

Logistically, this is a little tricky to enforce. You can buy SQL Server licenses in 2-core packs, each of which would presumably have its own key. The setup doesn’t appear to allow you to put in multiple keys, so it would seem that you could buy a 2 CPU pack of Enterprise, then install it on a 128-core server and put that key in.

Baby steps.

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • So Brent you don’t actaully confirm but does this dial home?

    Is so that that will be an interesting change for our security team of consider.

  • I believe the SQL server keys are universal and not tied to users, and I infer from that that there would be no point in the software calling home to validate.
    The key is hardcoded into the downloadable ISOs in \x64\DefaultSetup.ini

  • As Thomas Roets said, the key is located in the DefaultSetup.ini file.
    When this is absent the GUI installer will request the key (or allow you to select the trial/free editions).
    Also when the file is absent, and the install is done using automation (i.e. running setup.exe with parameters) the “PID” parameter has to be defined in the arguments or in the Config.ini used by the installation.

  • Hello Brent Ozar,
    I have a question: with a volume licensing version for past Sql Server (versions 2014, 2016, 2019) there was no license key, this integrates. You know if also with SQL Server 2022 Standard version there is not a product key and this is integrated in setup/iso?
    Thank you very much for your help, and sorry for my not bad english.

  • Hi Brent!
    What are the two checkboxes?
    1- I have a SQL Server license with software assurance.
    2- I have a SQL Server license only.

  • This makes no sense when you buy the core edition with software assurance it says on the ms website that it doesn’t have a license key. So I presume when you select i have software assurance it wil grey out the license key box? i hope so as i don’t have a key.


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