Originally Posted by Kitler
I am personally running Server 2012 Datacenter, but I also got the license free from work
. Server 2012 Essentials does not have hyper-v support. If you decide to go with Essentials you will need to download some other type of Virtual machine host.
I would say Server 2012 Datacenter is worth it. Hyper-v has a great toolset for hosting multiple VMs and I haven't had any compatibility issues with hosting Unix based VMs.
From my experience you do not need any additional licenses to remote into Server 2012 DC. I do it all the time from my Macbook pro/desktop computer.
You are right that no additional licenses are required for RDP, but that's not what the OP is asking.
Anywhere Access is a semi-new/newly named feature that contains Remote Web Access, VPN, and DirectAccess. It's the new RRAS, if you will. The CALs needed for those depend on what you plan to do. PPTP VPN? No CALs needed.
Remote Web Access is a whole different game, which provides more of a Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop function, which requires setting up the RDS infrastructure and publishing applications/desktops to session hosts. You need RD CALs registered in your RD Licensing Server for this to work.
Lastly is DirectAccess, which is Microsoft's "VPN-Killer". The point of DirectAccess is to use IPv6 to give an always on connection (VPN-like), without having to dial up to that VPN connection. RemoteAccess does not require and CALs, but does require that you use Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise, or Windows 8 Enterprise.
Also worth noting that while Essentials doesn't require CALs for anything it can do, it also has a limit of 25 users. Think of this as 25 builtin CALs. Essentials does not have Hyper-V or WSUS, but supports most other things. NPS, RemoteAccess, RDS, and IIS are four roles that are automatically configured when using Essentials, so it makes things easier. If you are interested in RemoteAccess, I would highly recommend going Essentials. Most people who run Windows Server at home either have licenses through work, MSDN, TechNet, DreamSpark, MS Partner, etc. If you are planning to 100% buy and own everything accordingly, Essentials is definitely what you want. NL Pricing for Essentials is $501, while NL Pricing for Standard is $882. With 1 Server 2012 Standard license, you are licensed to install on 1 CPU. So a single server, single CPU requires 1 Standard license. A single server with 2 CPUs would require 2 Standard licenses, or a single Datacenter license (which coveres 2 CPUs).
Licensing can be tricky, but it makes more sense now than it used to. if you are buying for a business, I definitely recommend contacting Microsoft and working with them for discounted rates.