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Licensing Windows Server for Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a crucial technology for organizations looking to enable remote access and efficient management of their Windows environments. Licensing Windows Server for RDS involves understanding the specific requirements and compliance rules associated with this essential service. In this guide, we’ll explore best practices for licensing Windows Server to deploy and manage Remote Desktop Services.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Proper Licensing for RDS

Licensing RDS correctly is vital for several reasons:

  • Compliance: Ensuring compliance with Microsoft’s licensing terms is crucial to avoid legal and financial penalties.
  • Functionality: Proper licensing ensures that RDS functions smoothly, providing remote access and management capabilities.
  • Cost-Efficiency: By licensing appropriately, you can optimize costs while maintaining full functionality.

RDS Licensing Models

Per-User Licensing

Under per-user licensing, each user who accesses RDS resources requires a user CAL (Client Access License). This model is suitable for organizations where users need access from various devices.

Per-Device Licensing

Per-device licensing requires a CAL for each device that accesses RDS resources. This model suits organizations with shared workstations or kiosks.

Best Practices for Licensing RDS

Understand CAL Requirements

Determine whether per-user or per-device CALs best suit your organization’s needs.

Accurate User/Device Count

Ensure that you have an accurate count of users or devices that will access RDS resources to avoid under- or over-licensing.

Consider Remote Desktop Services CALs

RDS CALs are specific licenses for accessing RDS. Make sure you have the appropriate number of RDS CALs in addition to standard Windows Server CALs.

Leverage License Mobility

If your organization uses virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), explore the License Mobility option for flexibility in moving licenses between servers and data centers.

Regularly Review and Update Licensing

Periodically review your licensing to ensure it aligns with your organization’s growth and usage patterns.

Compliance and Audits

Be aware that Microsoft may conduct compliance audits. It’s crucial to maintain records of your licenses and CALs to demonstrate compliance if required.


Licensing Windows Server for Remote Desktop Services is a critical aspect of enabling efficient remote access and management for your organization. By following best practices, accurately assessing your CAL requirements, and staying informed about licensing changes, you can ensure compliance and cost-efficiency while providing essential RDS functionality.

Stay tuned to our blog for more & insights and tips.

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