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Terminal Services Licensing

The Windows Server 2003 licensing model is basically the same as the Windows 2000 terminal services licensing model. The only difference is in terminology referring to the Remote Administration Mode (Remote Desktop for Administration in Windows Server 2003). Remote Administration Mode and Remote Desktop for Administration provide for two free client connections.

If you install Terminal Server in Windows Server 2003, you are converting the server to Application Server Mode. To use the terminal server in this mode, you need to install a licensing server. The following licenses are required to operate a terminal server:

The previous two bullets are standard Window licensing requirements for any Windows Server OS.

Finally, you also need a Terminal Services CAL. Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients do not require this license. Although technically not a "built-in" license (the license isn't managed by the Terminal Server licensing server), Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients do not count against purchased terminal server licenses.

One more thing—you, of course, need a license for any software you run on the terminal server. Depending on the vendor, you might also need a license for anyone who connects to the terminal server.

The bottom line is that if you have all Windows 2000, XP, and .NET clients, you need the standard licenses only for the server, client, and application.

For up-to-date information on Microsoft's licensing requirements and the various licensing programs that are available, be sure to check out Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/licensing.

Terminal Services Application Server Mode Overview

One of the main purposes of Terminal Services Application Server Mode—now simply called Terminal Server in Windows Server 2003—is to easily provide applications to remote users. Installation of an application on a terminal server provides a number of benefits:

All versions of Windows 2003 Server, except Web Server, support the installation of the optional Terminal Server service. Installing the Terminal Server optional Windows component (select Add or Remove Programs, Add/Remove Windows Components) converts the server from Remote Desktop for Administration (the former Remote Administration Mode) to Terminal Server (the former Application Server Mode). Similarly, uninstalling the Terminal Server Windows component changes terminal services back to Remote Desktop for Administration from Terminal Server mode.


Remote Desktop for Administration cannot be uninstalled; it can only be disabled.

Terminal Services Licensing Server

Operating a terminal server in Application Server Mode requires at least one terminal server licensing server to be installed. Terminal servers attempts to contact a licensing server periodically, and if a terminal server cannot contact a licensing server, it stops accepting client requests after 120 days. Installation of a licensing server is pretty much the same as installing the terminal server: You select Add or Remove Programs, Add/Remove Windows Components, Terminal Server Licensing Windows Component. When the Terminal Server Licensing Component is installed, you are given a choice of the licensing mode: Enterprise Licensing mode or Domain (or Workgroup) Licensing Mode. The mode determines the terminal servers for which the licensing server will manage licenses. In Domain (or Workgroup) mode, the licensing server manages licenses only for terminal servers in the same domain or workgroup as the licensing server. In Enterprise mode, on the other hand, the licensing server manages licenses for terminal servers in any domain in the forest, but they have to be Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 terminal servers. Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 terminal servers query Active Directory every hour to locate an Enterprise licensing server. If there is no Enterprise licensing server (or the terminal server is NT 4.0), the terminal server attempts to contact a Domain licensing server every 15 minutes. After one is located, it reconnects every 2 hours.

After a licensing server has been installed, it needs to be activated before it can start tracking licenses. A licensing server is activated simply by opening the Terminal Server Licensing MMC console, right-clicking the server to be activated, and selecting Activate Server from the pop-up menu. When activating, you are given a choice of how to activate:

After the license server is installed, you can then install license key packs. License key packs are just that—packs of license keys. Installing license key packs basically tells the license server how many CALs you have purchased. License key packs are installed much the same way as activating the server. In Terminal Server Licensing, you right-click the licensing server and select Install Licenses from the pop-up menu. Once again, you are given a choice of how to obtain the licenses:

After the key packs are installed, you can use the Terminal Server Licensing console to determine how many licenses of each type are being used by your terminal servers and who is using them.

As you can see, installing a license server and configuring the number of licenses is fairly straightforward. You just have to purchase the licenses to ensure you are in compliance. The hardest part is knowing how many licenses to purchase. The Terminal Server Licensing console lists not only the number of licenses you have, but how many you are using. So, if you go over, you will know it. Then you just have to buy the licenses and install them.

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