In previous versions of Exchange, Microsoft would provide a license key during the process of running the Microsoft 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW). This license was provided at no additional charge providing that no mailboxes were hosted on the Exchange Hybrid server. With the release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, Microsoft has deprecated the free Exchange Server license–even if no mailboxes are hosted on the Exchange 2019 Hybrid server.
When running the Microsoft 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW), we see behavior to support Microsoft’s new policy.
Notice that when the link to “license this server now” is clicked, the option to verify the tenant credentials is presented, but no change occurs in the options. The second hint to this is evident in the second option where The Microsoft 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW) specifically only references Exchange versions 2010, 2013, and 2016–as has been the case since Exchange 2016.
This licensing information can be confirmed in Microsoft Exchange licensing FAQs.
If my organization is Hybrid with Microsoft 365 and I do not host mailboxes on-premises, do I still need to license Exchange Server?
“If you do not host any mailboxes on the servers used to connect to Microsoft 365 you can license them using the Microsoft 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW). The HCW validates your Microsoft 365 subscription and installs the appropriate licenses on your servers. Note that the free Exchange Server license is not available for Exchange 2019 hybrid servers.”
Exchange 2019 can of course still function as a Hybrid, but it must be licensed with a Standard Edition Key or an Enterprise Edition key.
Lucas Guth, PEI