Share via

Terminal Services Licensing (TS Licensing)

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

Windows Server® 2008 provides a license management system for Terminal Services known as Terminal Services Licensing (TS Licensing). This system allows terminal servers to obtain and manage Terminal Services client access licenses (TS CALs) for devices and users that are connecting to a terminal server. TS Licensing supports terminal servers that run Windows Server 2008 as well as terminal servers running Windows Server 2003 or Windows® 2000 Server.


Remote Desktop supports two concurrent connections to remotely administer a computer. You do not need a license server for these connections.

What does TS Licensing do?

A terminal server is a computer on which the Terminal Server role service is installed. It provides clients access to Windows–based applications running entirely on the server and supports multiple client sessions on the server. As clients connect to a terminal server, the terminal server determines if the client needs a TS CAL, requests a TS CAL from a license server, and then delivers that TS CAL to the client.

A Terminal Services license server is a computer on which the TS Licensing role service is installed. A license server stores all TS CALs that have been installed for a group of terminal servers and tracks the TS CALs that have been issued. One license server can serve many terminal servers simultaneously. To issue permanent TS CALs to client devices, a terminal server must be able to connect to an activated license server. A license server that has been installed but not activated will only issue temporary TS CALs.

TS Licensing is a separate entity from the terminal server. In most large deployments, the license server is deployed on a separate server, even though it can be a co-resident on the terminal server in some smaller deployments.

TS Licensing is a low-impact service. It requires very little CPU or memory for regular operations, and its hard disk requirements are small, even for a significant number of clients. Idle activities are negligible. Memory usage is less than 10 megabytes (MB). The license database grows in increments of 5 MB for every 6,000 TS CALs issued. The license server is only active when a terminal server is requesting a TS CAL, and its impact on server performance is very low, even in high-load scenarios.

TS Licensing includes the following features and benefits:

  • Centralized administration for TS CALs

  • License tracking and reporting for TS Per User CALs

  • Simple support for various communication channels and purchase programs

  • Minimal impact on network and servers

Who will be interested in TS Licensing?

The effective management of TS CALs by using TS Licensing will be of interest to organizations that currently use or are interested in using Terminal Services. Terminal Services provides technologies that enable access, from almost any computing device, to a server running Windows-based programs or the full Windows desktop. Users can connect to a terminal server to run programs and use network resources on that server.

What new functionality is provided by TS Licensing?

TS Licensing for Windows Server 2008 now includes the ability to track the issuance of TS Per User CALs by using TS Licensing Manager.

If the terminal server is in Per User licensing mode, the user connecting to it must have a TS Per User CAL. If the user does not have the required TS Per User CAL, the terminal server will contact the license server to get the TS CAL for the user.

After the license server issues a TS Per User CAL to the user, the administrator can track the issuance of the TS CAL by using TS Licensing Manager.

How should I prepare to use TS Licensing?

To use TS Licensing to manage TS CALs, you will need to do the following on a server running Windows Server 2008:

  1. Install the TS Licensing role service.

  2. Open TS Licensing Manager and connect to the Terminal Services license server.

  3. Activate the license server.

  4. Install required TS CALs on the license server.

For more information about installing and configuring TS Licensing on Windows Server 2008, see the TS Licensing Step-by-Step Guide (

Are there any special considerations about TS Licensing?

In order to take advantage of TS Licensing, you must meet these prerequisites:

  • You must install the TS Licensing role service on a server running Windows Server 2008.

  • TS Per User CAL tracking and reporting is supported only in domain-joined scenarios (the terminal server and the license server are members of a domain) and is not supported in workgroup mode. Active Directory® Domain Services is used for license tracking in Per User mode. Active Directory Domain Services can be Windows Server 2008-based or Windows Server 2003-based.


No updates to the Active Directory Domain Services schema are needed to implement TS Per User CAL tracking and reporting.

  • A terminal server running Windows Server 2008 cannot communicate with a license server running Windows Server 2003. However, it is possible for a terminal server running Windows Server 2003 to communicate with a license server running Windows Server 2008.

Additional references

For information about other new features in Terminal Services, see What's New in Terminal Services for Windows Server 2008.