How to License Your RDS Deployment with Client Access Licenses (CALs)
Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 that allows users to access desktops and applications remotely from any device. RDS requires a license server to issue and manage client access licenses (CALs) for each user and device that connects to an RDS host.
In this article, we will explain how to install and activate the license server, how to choose between per user and per device licensing models, and how to install and activate RDS CALs.
Install and Activate the License Server
The license server is a role service of RDS that can be installed on any server in your domain. To install the license server, follow these steps[^1^]:
Sign into the server you want to use as the license server using an administrator account.
In Server Manager, click Roles Summary, and then click Add Roles.
Click Next on the first page of the roles wizard.
Select Remote Desktop Services, and then click Next, and then Next on the Remote Desktop Services page.
Select Remote Desktop Licensing, and then click Next.
Configure the domain - select Configure a discovery scope for this license server, click This domain, and then click Next.
To activate the license server, follow these steps[^1^]:
Open the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager: click Start > Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
Right-click the license server, and then click Activate Server.
Click Next on the welcome page.
For the connection method, select Automatic connection (recommended), and then click Next.
Enter your company information (your name, the company name, your geographic region), and then click Next.
Optionally enter any other company information (for example, email and company addresses), and then click Next.
Make sure that Start Install Licenses Wizard now is not selected (we'll install the licenses in a later step), and then click Next.
Your license server is now ready to start issuing and managing licenses.
Choose Between Per User and Per Device Licensing Models
RDS supports two types of CALs: per user and per device. The following table outlines the differences between the two types of CALs[^1^]:
Per DevicePer User
RDS CALs are physically assigned to each device.RDS CALs are assigned to a user in Active Directory.
RDS CALs are tracked by the license server.RDS CALs are tracked by the license server.
RDS CALs can be tracked regardless of Active Directory membership.RDS CALs cannot be tracked within a workgroup.
You can revoke up to 20% of RDS CALs.You cannot revoke any RDS CALs.
Temporary RDS CALs are valid for 52â89 days.Temporary RDS CALs are not available.
RDS CALs cannot be overallocated.RDS CALs can be overallocated (in breach of the Remote Desktop licensing agreement).
An example of where one would use the per device model would be in an environment where there are two or more shifts using the same computers to access the RDS host(s).
An example of where one would use the per user model would be in an environment where users access the RDS host(s) from multiple devices (for example, laptops, tablets, smartphones).
To configure the licensing mode on your RDS host(s), run the following PowerShell command[^3^]: