At first glance, it appears that Microsoft is getting rid of the most visible advantage they have over Oracle, price point. I really do not like this move.
However, in 2008R2 EE, there were hidden benefits provided while licensing for CPUs:
1. Disaster Recovery servers are included, as long as users do not connect to those instances.
2. If you license all CPUs, you were entitled to 7 additional Operating System Environments (OSEs) with SQL Server installed, as long as it is on the same hardware.
2a. If you had Software Assurance, you were entitled to unlimited OSEs.
I am sure I missed some additional benefits as well. The only thing mentioned in the licensing datasheet for 2012 is item 2a. If the DR and 7 OSE entitlements are gone, the value of SQL Server is gone with them, in my opinion.
This is just like Microsoft though. They announce a fantastic product that gets professionals excited about upgrading. By all indications, this is a product that they seemed to have gotten right. Then they allow their licensing team to ruin it by following Oracle's lead, instead of dictating to Oracle how licensing should and will be done in this industry. I am disappointed by this.
They are stating, in their licensing datasheet, that 4 2012 core licenses will be equivalent, in price, to 1 CPU socket license from 2008R2. Therefore, if you have 2 CPUs with 8 cores each (not uncommon), you are essentially doubling your licensing cost. Just in time for budgets too!
Sorry for the rant,