Big Changes in SharePoint 2013 Licensing for Portal Clients

It’s always a good thing when users see a reduction in license costs. It means that they have more money left over to invest in strategy and services. With that in mind, some of the changes associated with SharePoint 2013 caught our eye. The new pricing structure offers some pretty big advantages when using SharePoint 2013 for a public facing website or external facing portal.

In particular, two changes are substantive enough to deserve a deeper dive to understand what they really mean and how much they can save a company in a typical SharePoint farm scenario.

No more SharePoint for Internet Sites License (FIS): For someone estimating their SharePoint license costs for a new farm, this is a very big deal.

In SharePoint 2010 companies were required to purchase an Internet-facing standard or enterprise license if your solution would be accessible by an anonymous user (for a website) or by large numbers of external but authenticated users (for a portal). According to the published open pricing for standard SharePoint, this typically increased license cost by as much as $7000 per SharePoint server. If you wanted enterprise features, you would expect to pay an extra $39,000 per SharePoint Server with external access. So if you were looking to launch a portal leveraging SharePoint Dashboards, you may have been required to spend $80,000 just to license the servers. That doesn’t even include licensing your internal employees accessing the new Portal at $82 per user. Obviously, SharePoint was priced out of the market for many companies.

Now the good news: To license this same portal with SharePoint 2013, you just need to purchase SharePoint 2013 at $6,798.00 (Assuming an Open Price list price) and then add internal user CALs  at $109 a pop. External users will get access to SharePoint 2013 standard and all enterprise features at no additional cost.  

So in a scenario where you were licensing a SharePoint 2013 farm with two SharePoint servers, a database server, and 100 internal users, you would be estimating your SharePoint licensing in the ballpark of $24,496 vs. $89,328 for SharePoint 2010. In this scenario, licensing with SharePoint 2013 vs. SharePoint 2010 would save a company over $60,000.

How do they define an external user? For this licensing change, this is the big question. It is probably easier to define what they consider an internal user and you can extrapolate an external user as anything outside of that definition. Internal users are a company’s employees or its affiliates and any onsite contractors or onsite agents. All other users are considered external users and do not need licensing.

FAST Search Included in Standard License: Besides making licensing simpler, this move adds some serious horsepower to your SharePoint Portal for your internal users. This is now part of a standard SharePoint installation. So not only is it now free, it’s a lot easier to deploy and configure. Besides greatly increasing the search center capabilities, site designers can efficiently use dynamic page templates to build very large and more personalized websites and portals.

As we started to see with the greatly varied discussion topics at this year’s SharePoint Conference, there is a great deal more to learn and discover about the platform’s latest iteration. As we continue to work with and explore it, we’ll continue to share out finding here.

But in the meantime, what do you think are the most welcome of SharePoint 2013’s many changes?

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14 thoughts on “Big Changes in SharePoint 2013 Licensing for Portal Clients

  1. Manisha

    Is there any difference between SharePoint 2013 Enterprise and Standard CAL pricing?

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer

      Hello Manisha,

      There is an additional cost for the enterprise CAL. According to the Open License numbers available with the Microsoft License Advisor, the Standard CAL is $109 and the Enterprise CAL is an additional $96. Licensing your internal users in an Open License scenario requiring Enterprise features would be $205 per user.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Marc

    Joe, many thanks for this awesome post!
    Quick question: Can I use your example scenario (licensing a SharePoint 2013 farm with two SharePoint servers, a database server, and 100 internal users) and build a portal that serves multiple external users, being these external users people that pay to have access to this portal? I guess paying users would require a per-user CAL right?

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer


      External users in a subscription based portal must be licensed. You will need to contact a reseller to get all the details.

      There is more detail on the Microsoft Volume Licensing site.

  3. Naresh Kumar

    We have MSDN pack. This pack included with SharePoint 2013. In order to use this license to create a website that will be used by our internal folks for storing documents and wiki.

    Do we need to buy another license (other than MSDN?)
    Do we need to buy user licences separately per user?

    Note: User are internal website users. [single website/application]

    Kindly help in understanding.

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer

      Hello Naresh,

      The users in this scenario will be considered internal users. You will need to make sure each server in the farm is licensed (with a server license) and each user has a CAL. If they are accessing enterprise features they will need the Enterprise CAL.

      You will want to refer to your MSDN license terms to see how you are covered for the license requirements I’ve described.


  4. mahesh

    Could you please let us know when the SharePoint server 2013 standard was coming out/

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer


      The Release to Manufacturer (RTM) was October 11. So it is officially released. You can download it at Tech Net and get information on the system requirements.

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer

      Thanks Thuan. We appreciate you featuring us on your site. Be on the look out for a couple new blog entries on SharePoint 2013 interface design in the near future .

  5. john

    I need to build a SharePoint 2013 for my company which have the following specification:-

    1. 55 internal users (employees).
    2. 85 external users (clients).
    3. We need one instance of SharePoint server
    4. we already have licensed windows server 2008 + SQL server 2008.

    So generally speaking what will the cost range be if i decide to buy SharePoint 2013 ?

    Thanks in advance

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer

      Thanks for the question John,

      We wrote the following blog to help step you through your budgeting scenario and also let you work through some “what if” options on your side. Hope this helps. Estimating Tips for SharePoint 2013

  6. fisko

    Thanks for this useful post but I think you probably need to mention SQL licencing when totaling up those costs. Especially as SP15(2013) is SQL>2008R2 only, so companies who have been working with SQL2005 Proc. licenses all the way up to SP14 (2010) who are not covered by SA are going to have to find some extra money in the budget.

    • Joe Cromer
      Joe Cromer

      That is a very good point. We will highlight this in the blog.

      On that note we have been recommending folks who are on SQL2005 use the guided quote option from to start pulling ballpark budgeting numbers for both SQL and SharePoint. Note you have to use IE 8+ for guided quote to work.