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Windows Server 2003 Licensing Model

New changes to licensing model:

  • New user-based CAL. Microsoft is introducing a new type of CAL. In addition to existing device-based CALs (Device CAL), a user-based CAL (User CAL) will be available for purchase. You can choose to purchase a Windows Device CAL for every device accessing your servers, or you can purchase a Windows User CAL for every named user accessing your servers. By having two types of CALs, you are able to use the model that makes sense for your organization. For example, purchasing a Windows User CAL might make more sense if your company has a need for employees to have roaming access using multiple devices. Windows Device CALs may make more sense if your company has multiple-shift workers who share devices. Similarly, Terminal Server (TS) will offer both device-based and user-based CALs: TS Device CAL and TS User CAL.
  • New name for Per Seat licensing mode and expanded usage right. The two CAL licensing modes that exist in Windows 2000 Server still exist, but one of the modes has a new name: The Per Seat mode has been changed to the "Per Device or Per User" mode, and Windows User CALs can be applied. The name of the Per Server mode has not changed, and the rights associated with each of the modes have essentially not changed. Per Device or Per User mode is concerned with the total number of devices or users (or a combination of devices and users) accessing the server software across any number of servers, at any time. In this mode, you need a Windows CAL for every device or user that will be accessing Windows Server. In Per Device or Per User mode, only one Windows CAL is needed for any given device or user to access Windows Server, regardless of which servers it is accessing. Per Server mode is concerned with the number of concurrent connections to the server software. You need to purchase Windows CALs for the maximum number of simultaneous connections to that server. Any device or user can access the server, but the number of simultaneous access connections hitting the server at any given time must not exceed the number of Windows CALs designated to that server.
  • New External Connector License option. The new External Connector license (EC) can be purchased to enable access to your servers instead of buying individual Windows CALs for external users (or their devices). The EC license is purchased for every copy of the Windows server software that is accessible to the external user. An example of an external user is a person who is not an employee or similar personnel of the company or its affiliates. Terminal Server will also introduce an EC license—the Terminal Server External Connector (TS-EC)—to address a similar need: to enable external users to access a company's terminal servers, without the need to purchase individual TS CALs for them or their devices. Note: Companies can purchase Windows CALs and TS CALs for entities not owned by them—for example, business partners—in order to give those entities access to their networks and terminal servers. This may be the best solution when a small number of business partners or customers need access to a server or group of servers.
  • Replacing Internet Connector and TS Internet Connector licenses. The Internet Connector and TS Internet Connector licenses are being replaced by the respective External Connector licenses.
    • Removing Operating System Equivalency in TS. With Windows 2000 TS licensing, if a client device is running the most recent version of the Windows desktop operating system (OS), a TS CAL is not required to satisfy the licensing requirement. However, with Windows Server 2003, a TS CAL will be required for each Device or User using TS functionality, irrespective of which desktop operating system is running on the Device.

    Elements that did not change:

  • Every installed copy of the server software requires the purchase of a Windows server license.
  • A Windows Client Access License (Windows CAL) is required in order to access or use the server software.
  • A Windows CAL is not required if access to the server software is via the Internet and is "unauthenticated"—for example, accessing a Web site for general information where no identifying credentials are exchanged.
  • A Windows CAL (Device or User CAL) can still be designated for use with a single server, authorizing access by any device or user, when the server software's licensing mode is set in "Per Server" mode. In this mode, the number of Windows CALs is equal to a maximum number of concurrent connections. Or, a Windows CAL (Device or User CAL) can be designated for use with any number of servers, authorizing access by a specified device or user, when the server software's licensing mode is set in "Per Device or Per User" mode (formerly called "Per Seat" mode). Other options have been added and are detailed below.
    • A Terminal Server Client Access License (TS CAL) is required to use Terminal Server or otherwise host a remote graphical user interface (GUI) session, except for a console session. In Windows 2000, there was an exception to this licensing requirement and that will change with this release, as outlined below.

    Terminal Server Licensing Transition Plan:

    Microsoft realizes that the removal of operating system equivalency will affect customers, and is committed to accommodating existing Microsoft customers who would like to take advantage of Windows Server 2003 features.

    Every Windows XP Professional desktop license that you own on the date of the public launch of Windows Server 2003 will be eligible for a Windows Server 2003 TS CAL. One of following scenarios will apply:

    • Customers with either platform or operating system component Enterprise Agreements (EAs), or Upgrade Advantage (UA) or Software Assurance (SA) coverage for their Windows desktop computers, will be eligible for a Windows Server 2003 TS CAL—plus SA coverage on that TS CAL for each covered desktop owned at the time of the Windows Server 2003 launch.
    • Customers who own Windows XP Professional licenses, without upgrade rights—no SA/EA/UA—will be eligible for a Windows Server 2003 TS CAL for each licensed desktop owned at the time of the Windows Server 2003 launch, but will not get upgrade rights on the TS CAL.

    This information was obtained from the Microsoft Windows 2003 Server website at and islinked from for your convenience. For the most accurate information please visit the official site.


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