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Choosing the Licensing Model

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

To use Terminal Server in your organization, you are required to have a Windows Server 2003 license for every terminal server that you deploy in your organization as well as Terminal Server Client Access Licenses (CALs) for devices that access the terminal servers. For terminal servers that are running Windows Server 2003, there are two types of Terminal Server CALs:

  • Per Device

  • Per User

Which CAL you choose depends on how you plan to use Terminal Server. By default, Terminal Server is configured in Per Device mode, but it can be switched to Per User mode using the Terminal Services Connection Configuration (TSCC) tool or by using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). You can serve both license types from the same license server. For more information about how to set your licensing mode, see "Designing the Terminal Server Configuration" later in this chapter.


  • Windows 2000 Internet Connector Licensing has been replaced by Terminal Server External Connector Licensing in Windows Server 2003. Improvements include licensing qualification extended to business partners in addition to customers, authenticated access, and unlimited concurrent users per server. For information about External Connector Licensing, see "External Connector License Overview" at Windows Server 2003 retains support for Windows 2000 Internet Connector Licensing.

A Terminal Server license server on your network manages the Terminal Services CALs. A license server stores all Terminal Server CAL tokens that have been installed for a terminal server and tracks the license tokens that have been issued to clients. For more information about setting up a license server, see "Planning the License Server" later in this chapter.

For more information about Terminal Server licensing, see Terminal Server Licensing overview in Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003 and "Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server Licensing" at For general information about licensing, see "Microsoft Volume Licensing" at


  • Each service or application that users access from the terminal server must be licensed appropriately. Typically each device requires application licenses and CALs associated with it, even if the application or service is accessed indirectly through the terminal server. For more information, check the product documentation, End User License Agreement (EULA), or any other document that specifies product usage rights.

Per Device Licensing Mode

A Per Device CAL provides each client computer the right to access a terminal server that is running Windows Server 2003. The Per Device CAL is stored locally and presented to the terminal server each time the client computer connects to the server.

Per Device licensing is a good choice for:

  • Hosting a user’s primary desktop for devices the customer owns or controls.

  • Thin clients or computers that connect to a terminal server for a large percentage of the working day.

  • Hosting line-of-business applications that are used for the bulk of your users’ work.

This type of licensing is a poor choice if you do not control the device accessing the server, for example computers in an Internet café, or if you have a business partner who connects to your terminal server from outside your network.

Per User Licensing Mode

In Per User licensing mode you must have one license for every user. With Per User licensing, one user can access a terminal server from an unlimited number of devices and only needs one CAL rather than a CAL for each device.


  • At the release of Windows Server 2003, Per User licensing is not enforced. However the terminal server must be able to discover a license server after the 120-day grace period expires. Otherwise, clients are denied access to the terminal server. For more information about the 120-day grace period, see "Planning the License Server" later in this chapter. For more information about Per User licensing, see "Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server Licensing" at For information about plans for enforcing per user licensing, see "Microsoft Volume Licensing" at

Per User licensing is a good choice in the following situations:

  • Providing access for roaming users.

  • Providing access for users who use more than one computer, for example, a portable and a desktop computer.

  • Providing ease of management for organizations that track access to the network by user, rather than by computer.

In general, if your organization has more computers than users, Per User licensing might be a cost-effective way to deploy Terminal Server because you only pay for the user to access Terminal Server, rather than paying for every device from which the user accesses Terminal Server. Check the end-user license agreement for the applications that you plan to host to determine if they support per user licensing.

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