Remote Desktop Licensing

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

Remote Desktop Licensing (RD Licensing) is a Remote Desktop Services role service that manages the Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) that are required for each device or user to connect to a Remote Desktop Session Host or Remote Desktop Virtualization Host server. You use RD Licensing to install, issue, and track the availability of RDS CALs on a Remote Desktop license server.


The following is a list of all aspects that are part of this managed entity:

Name Description

Remote Desktop License Server Activation

To install and issue Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs), a Remote Desktop license server must first be activated. When the license server is activated, Microsoft provides the license server with a limited-use digital certificate that validates server ownership and identity. Microsoft uses the X.509 industry standard certificate for this purpose. Using this certificate, a license server can make subsequent transactions with Microsoft.

Remote Desktop License Server Availability

The Remote Desktop license server relies on the Remote Desktop Licensing service to be running to install, issue, and track the availability of Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs).

Remote Desktop License Server Database Availability

When the Remote Desktop Licensing role service is installed, a database is created in which to hold information about the Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) that are installed onto the license server.

The location of the RD Licensing database can be specified during the Remote Desktop Licensing role service installation. The database location must be a local folder on the computer on which the Remote Desktop Licensing role service is being installed. By default, the RD Licensing database is located in the %systemroot%\system32\lserver folder, where %systemroot% is the folder in which the operating system is installed, which is, by default, c:\windows. You can confirm the location of the RD Licensing database by using Review Configuration in the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool.

Remote Desktop License Server Discovery

Remote Desktop license server discovery is the process by which a Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server contacts an available license server to request Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) for the clients that are connecting remotely to the RD Session Host server. If the RD Session Host server cannot discover a license server, client connections may fail.

The recommended discovery scope for a license server is forest discovery scope. If you configure forest discovery scope, RD Session Host servers, without any additional configuration, can automatically discover a license server in the same forest, because the license server is published in Active Directory Domain Services. To configure forest discovery scope, you must be logged on as an enterprise administrator to the forest in which the license server is a member.

Remote Desktop License Server Security Group Configuration

When the Remote Desktop Licensing role service is installed on the server, the Terminal Server Computers local group is created. The license server will respond only to requests for RDS CALs from Remote Desktop Session Host servers whose computer accounts are members of this group if the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\RD Licensing\License server security group Group Policy setting has been enabled and applied to the license server. By default, the Terminal Server Computers local group is empty.

When the Remote Desktop Licensing role service is removed from the server, the Terminal Server Computers local group is deleted.

Remote Desktop Services Client Access License (RDS CAL) Availability

When a client—either a user or a device—connects to a Remote Destkop Session Host server, the RD Session Host server determines if a Remote Desktop Services client access license (RDS CAL) is needed. The RD Session Host server then requests an RDS CAL from a Remote Desktop license server on behalf of the client attempting to connect to the RD Session Host server. If an appropriate RDS CAL is available from a license server, the RDS CAL is issued to the client, and the client will be able to connect to the RD Session Host server.

RDS CALs are installed onto a license server by using the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool.

Remote Desktop Services Per User Client Access License Tracking and Reporting

In Windows Server 2008 R2, you can use the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool to create (generate) reports to track the Remote Desktop Services Per User client access licenses (RDS Per User CALs) that have been issued by a Remote Desktop license server. RDS Per User CAL tracking and reporting is supported only in domain-joined scenarios because the information about the RDS Per User CAL that has been issued to a user is stored as part of the user account in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS).

For RDS Per User CAL tracking and reporting to work, the computer account for the license server must be a member of the Terminal Server License Servers group in AD DS. If the license server is installed on a domain controller, the Network Service account must also be a member of the Terminal Server License Servers group.

Remote Desktop Services