RDS: The license server must be activated before you can install RDS CALs onto the license server

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012

This topic is intended to address a specific issue identified by a Best Practices Analyzer scan. You should apply the information in this topic only to computers that have had the Remote Desktop Services Best Practices Analyzer run against them and are experiencing the issue addressed by this topic. For more information about best practices and scans, see Best Practices Analyzer.

Operating System

Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012


Remote Desktop Services






The Remote Desktop license server is not activated, so you cannot install Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) onto the license server.


Each user or computing device that connects to a remote desktop server must have a valid RDS CAL issued by a license server. If an activated license server with RDS CALs installed is not available, the remote desktop server may stop accepting connections.


The Remote Desktop licensing mode configured on the remote desktop server must match the type of RDS CALs available on the license server. For more information, see “Specify the Terminal Services Licensing Mode” in the Terminal Services Configuration Help in the Windows Server 2008 Technical Library (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=101638).


Use the RD Licensing Manager tool to activate the license server and then to install RDS CALs onto the license server.

A Remote Desktop license server must be activated in order to certify the server and allow the license server to issue RDS CALs. You can activate a license server by using the Activate Server Wizard in the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager (RD Licensing Manager) tool.

There are three methods by which you can activate your license server:

  • Internet (Automatic)   This method requires Internet connectivity from the computer running RD Licensing Manager. Internet connectivity is not required from the license server itself. This method uses TCP/IP (TCP Port 443) to connect directly to the Microsoft Clearinghouse.

  • Web   You can use the Web method when the computer running RD Licensing Manager does not have Internet connectivity, but you have access to the Web by means of a Web browser from another computer. The URL for the Web method is displayed in the Activate Server Wizard.

  • Telephone   The telephone method allows you to talk to a Microsoft customer service representative to complete the activation process. The appropriate telephone number is determined by the country/region that you choose in the Activate Server Wizard and is displayed by the wizard.

For more information about these activation methods, see "Activate a Terminal Services License Server" in the TS Licensing Manager Help in the Windows Server 2008 Technical Library (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=101640).

Membership in the local Administrators group, or equivalent, on the license server, is the minimum required to complete this procedure.

To activate the license server automatically

  1. On the license server, open RD Licensing Manager. To open RD Licensing Manager, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, point to Remote Desktop Services, and then click RD Licensing Manager.

  2. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Continue.

  3. In the left pane, click All Servers, click the name of the license server, and then on the Action menu, click Activate Server. The Activate Server Wizard starts.

  4. Click Next.

  5. On the Connection Method page, in the Connection method list, select Automatic connection (recommended), and then click Next.

  6. On the Company Information page, type your name, company, and country/region information, and then click Next.

  7. Specify any other information that you want to provide, such as e-mail and company address. This information is optional.

  8. Click Next. Your license server is activated.

  9. On the Completing the Activate Server Wizard page, do one of the following:

    • To install RDS CALs onto your license server, ensure that the Start Install Licenses Wizard now check box is selected, click Next, and then follow the instructions.

    • To install RDS CALs later, clear the Start Install Licenses Wizard now check box, and then click Finish.

Additional references

For more information about installing RDS CALs onto a license server, see “Install Terminal Services Client Access Licenses” in the TS Licensing Manager Help in the Windows Server 2008 Technical Library (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=101643).

See Also


Best Practices Analyzer for Remote Desktop Services: Configuration
Best Practices Analyzer for Remote Desktop Services