Knowledge Base

Windows Server 2008R2 and 2012 : How to Activate a Remote Desktop Services License Server and Install CALs


This article provides information on activating a Remote Desktop Services license server and installing the appropriate client access licenses.

Note: The provided steps only work with Windows Server 2008R2 and 2012. They do not work with later Windows versions.

Table of Contents:

1. Activating an RDS license server
2. Installing RD CALs
3. RDS license programs


1. Activating a Remote Desktop Services license server

After installing and configuring the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role in Windows server, a license server needs to activated. Without an activated license server, clients will fail to connect to the Session Host server when the licensing grace period expires. To activate the license server follow the instructions below.

  1. Launch the RDS license manager
    • In Windows Server 2008 R2, click Start > Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
    • In Windows Server 2012, launch Server Manager and click Tools > Terminal Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
  2. Right-click the server name and select Activate Server.
  3. Click Next on the welcome screen.
  4. Ensure the connection method is set to Automatic and click Next.
  5. Fill in the requested company information and click Next.
  6. Fill in the optional information and click Next.
  7. The status should indicate that the server was successfully activated.
  8. To install RD client access licenses (CALs), check the Start Install Licenses Wizard now box.
  9. See Section 2 for information on installing RD CALs.

2. Installing RD CALs

This section assumes the RDS license server has been activated. If the license server is not already activated, refer to Section 1.

  1. Launch the RDS license manager if not already running
    • In Windows 2008, click Start > Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
    • In Windows 2012, launch Server Manager and click Tools > Terminal Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
  2. Right-click the server name and select Install Licenses.
  3. Choose the applicable license program and click Next. Refer to Section 3 for information on the license programs.
  4. Enter the licensing information requested and click Next.
  5. Enter the product version, license type, and quantity and click Next.
  6. The status should indicate success. Click Finish.
  7. Repeat these steps to install additional RD CALs.

3. RDS License Programs

There are a number of license programs available from Microsoft. RD CALs purchased from Dell likely fall under one of two programs:

  1. Retail Purchase
    • A 25-digit product key is used for installation.
    • These licenses are most commonly purchased on the same order as the server. As a result, there is typically accompanying documentation with the product key.
  2. Open License< >This is the most common of the licensing programs, as only 5 CALs are required to enroll.All license information can be managed through Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center website.An authorization number and a license number are required for installation .
  3. These licenses are most commonly purchased on a separate order from the server. The required information is sent to the email address that was provided at the time of purchase. Unfortunately, this email can be mistaken for spam.
  4. If the authorization number and license number cannot be located, the Dell salesperson should be contacted.


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Article ID: SLN285758

Last Date Modified: 03/21/2017 09:09 AM


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