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How to Install and Convert Windows Remote Desktop Client Access Licenses

Summary: Windows Remote Desktop client access licenses (RD CALs) are available in two types: Per User and Per Device. This article shows how to install RD CALs on a license server and convert them from one type to the other. ...

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Article Content


RD CALs are required for any Remote Desktop Services (RDS) deployment. An RD CAL must be purchased for each user or device that connects to the RDS deployment through a Remote Desktop session. RD CALs are installed using the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager console on a server with the Remote Desktop Licensing role service installed.

To install RD CALs, perform the following steps:
  1. On the Remote Desktop license server, launch the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager console from the Tools menu in Server Manager.
  2. In the left pane of the console, right-click the license server and select Install Licenses.
  3. The Install Licenses Wizard opens. Click Next on the initial screen.
  4. Select the appropriate license program from the dropdown list. The license program determines what other information is required to install the CALs. In this example, we select License Pack (Retail Purchase), the most common option. CALs purchased through this program have a 25-character license key. Click Next to proceed.
  5. Enter the license key in the field provided and click Add. You may enter multiple keys. Click Next when all keys have been entered.
  6. The keys are then validated. Click Finish to close the wizard.
  7. The newly installed CALs should now appear in the right pane of the RD Licensing Manager console.
As mentioned, there are two types of RD CALs: Per User and Per Device. It is sometimes necessary to convert CALs from one type to the other. For example, Per User CALs can only be used in an Active Directory domain. To convert the RD CALs, follow these steps:
  1. On the Remote Desktop license server, launch the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager console from the Tools menu in Server Manager.
  2. In the left pane of the console, select the license server. Installed CALs are shown in the right pane. Each entry represents one key pack, which may contain one or more CALs.
  3. Right-click the CAL key pack that is to be converted and select Convert Licenses.
  4. To convert all CALs in the CAL pack, select Full Conversion. To convert only some of them, select Partial Conversion and enter the number of CALs to be converted. Click OK to continue.
  5. Review the text in the prompt and click Continue to convert the CALs.
  6. Click OK on the confirmation popup. The RD Licensing Manager console should reflect the change.
Note: It may be necessary to change the licensing mode of one or more session hosts for the converted CALs to be assigned to users or devices. For example, if all installed CALs are converted from Per User to Per Device, only a session host in Per Device licensing mode can use them.

It is also possible to convert RD CALs using the Convert-License Powershell cmdlet.

Additional Information

See this video for a demonstration:

This video is also available on YouTube.

Article Properties

Affected Product

Microsoft Windows Server 2019, Microsoft Windows Server 2022

Last Published Date

05 Jan 2024



Article Type

How To