Microsoft Windows Server 2003 : Maintaining the Operating System - Administering Software Licenses

9/15/2012 3:18:54 AM
The End User License Agreement (EULA) is more than just a nuisance that you must click through to begin installing a new operating system, update, or application. The EULA is a binding contract that gives you the legal right to use a piece of software. In an enterprise environment, managing software licenses is critically important. In this lesson, you will learn to use the licensing tools provided by Windows Server 2003 to register and monitor licenses and compliance.

Obtaining a Client Access License

The server license for Windows Server 2003 enables you to install the operating system on a computer, but you need a Client Access License (CAL) before a user or device is legally authorized to connect to the server. CALs are obtained in bundles, and are often but not always included in the purchase of the operating system. Keep copies of the CAL certificates and your EULAs on file, in the event that your organization is audited for licensing compliance.


Remember that when upgrading a server from Windows NT 4 or Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003, you must purchase CAL upgrades as well.

You must have a CAL for any connection to a Windows Server 2003 computer that uses server components, which include file and print services or authentication. Very few server applications run so independently that the client/server connection does not require a CAL. The most significant exception to the CAL requirement is unauthenticated access conducted through the Internet. Where there is no exchange of credentials during Internet access, such as users browsing your public Web site, no CAL is required. CALs are therefore not required for Windows Server 2003 Web Edition.

There are two types of CALs: Windows Device CALs, which allow a device to connect to a server regardless of the number of users who may use that device; and Windows User CALs, which allow a user to connect to a server from a number of devices. Windows Device CALs are advantageous for an organization with multiple users per device, such as shift workers. Windows User CALs make most sense for an organization with employees that access the network from multiple or unknown devices.


The licensing tools and the user interface do not yet distinguish between Windows User or Windows Device CALs. A device CAL is registered indirectly, using license groups.

The number of CALs you require, and how you track those licenses, depends on which client access licensing mode you pursue.

Per-Server Licensing

Per-server licensing requires a User or Device CAL for each concurrent connection. If a server is configured with 1,000 CALs, the 1,001st concurrent connection is denied access. CALs are designated for use on a particular server, so if the same 1,000 users require concurrent connections to a second server, you must purchase another 1,000 CALs.

Per server licensing is advantageous only in limited access scenarios, such as when a subset of your user population accesses a server product on very few servers. Per server licensing is less cost-effective in a situation where multiple users access multiple resources on multiple servers. If you are unsure which licensing mode is appropriate, select Per Server. The license agreement allows a no-cost, one-time, one-way conversion from Per Server to Per Device or Per User licensing when it becomes appropriate to do so.

Per-Device or Per-User Licensing

The Per Device or Per User licensing mode varies from the Per Seat scheme of previous versions of Windows. In this new mode, each device or user that connects to a server requires a CAL, but with that license the device or user can connect to a number of servers in the enterprise. Per User or Per Device mode is generally the mode of choice for distributed computing environments in which multiple users access multiple servers.

For example, a developer who uses a laptop and two desktops would require only one Windows User CAL. A fleet of 10 Tablet PCs that are used by 30 shift workers would require only 10 Windows Device CALs.

The total number of CALs equals the number of devices or users, or a mixture thereof, that access servers. CALs can be reassigned under certain, understandable conditions—for example a Windows User CAL can be reassigned from a permanent employee to a temporary employee while the permanent employee is on leave. A Windows Device CAL can be reassigned to a loaner device while a device is being repaired.

Per Server and Per Device or Per User licensing modes are illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1. CAL Licensing Modes
Per ServerPer User or Per Device

  • Traditionally licensed in Per Server mode when there are few servers that require limited access.

  • The number of CALs needed is determined by the number of concurrent connections that are required.

  • Traditionally licensed in Per User or Per Device mode when there are many servers that require frequent and widespread access.

  • Usually more economical when the number of CALs needed is determined by the number of users or devices, or both, that require access to the servers.


Windows Server 2003 includes Terminal Services, also known as Remote Desktop. Remote Desktop includes a two (concurrent) connection license for administrators to connect to a remote server. For Terminal Services to perform as an application server, allowing non-administrative users to connect to hosted applications, you must acquire Terminal Services CALs, which are included in Windows XP Professional.

There are two utilities that will help you track and manage software licensing:

  • Licensing in Control Panel The Control Panel Choose Licensing Mode tool, as shown in Figure 1, manages licensing requirements for a single computer running Windows Server 2003. You can use Licensing to add or remove CALs for a server running in per-server mode; to change the licensing mode from Per Server to Per Device or Per User; or to configure licensing replication.

    Figure 1. The Choose Licensing Mode tool in Control Panel

  • Licensing in Administrative Tools The Licensing administrative tool, discussed in the next section, allows you to manage licensing for an enterprise by centralizing the control of licensing and license replication in a site-based model.

Administering Site Licensing

The License Logging service, which runs on each Windows Server 2003 computer, assigns and tracks licenses when server resources are accessed. To ensure compliance, licensing information is replicated to a centralized licensing database on a server in the site. This server is called the site license server. A site administrator, or an administrator for the site license server, can then use the Microsoft Licensing tool in Administrative Tools program group to view and manage licensing for the entire site. This new license tracking and management capability incorporates licenses not just for file and print services, but for IIS, for Terminal Services, and for BackOffice products such as Exchange or SQL Server.

The Site License Server

The site license server is typically the first domain controller created in a site. To find out what server is the license server for a site, open Active Directory Sites And Services, expand to select the Site node then right-click Licensing Site Settings and choose Properties. The current site license server is displayed, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Identifying and changing the site license server

To assign the site license server role to another server or domain controller, click Change and select the desired computer. To retain the licensing history for your enterprise, you must immediately after transferring the role stop the License Logging service on the new license server, then copy the following files from the old to the new licensing server:

  • %Systemroot%\System32\Cpl.cfg contains the purchase history for your organization.

  • %Systemroot%\Lls\Llsuser.lls contains user information about the number of connections.

  • %Systemroot%\Lls\Llsmap.lls contains license group information.

After all files have been copied, restart the License Logging service.

Administering Site Licenses

Once you have identified the site license server for a site, you can view the licensing information on that server opening Licensing from the Administrative Tools program group. The Server Browser tab in Licensing (as shown in Figure 3) enables you to manage licensing for an entire site or enterprise.

Figure 3. The Server Browser tab of the Microsoft Licensing administrative tool

The Server Browser page of Licensing allows you to manage any server in any site or domain for which you have administrative authority. You can locate a server and, by right-clicking it and choosing Properties, manage that server’s licenses. For each server product installed on that server, you can add or remove per-server licenses. You can also, where appropriate, convert the licensing mode. Remember that per server licensing mode issues a license when a user connects to the server product. When a user disconnects from the server product, the License Logging service makes the license available to another user.

The server properties also allow you to configure license replication, which can be set on a server using its Licensing properties in Control Panel. By default, license information is replicated from a server’s License Logging Service to the site license server every 24 hours, and the system automatically staggers replication to avoid burdening the site licensing server. If you want to control replication schedules or frequency, you must manually vary the Start At time and Start Every frequency of each server replicating to a particular site license server.

To manage Per Device or Per User licensing, click Licensing from the Administrative Tools program group, then choose the New License command from the License menu. In the New Client Access License dialog box, select the server product and the number of licenses purchased. Licenses are added to the pool of licenses. As devices or users connect to the product anywhere in the site, they are allocated licenses from the pool, with one license for each device or user. After a pool of licenses is depleted, license violations occur when additional devices or users access the product.

The Purchase History tab in Licensing (as shown in Figure 4) provides a historical overview of licenses purchased for a site, as well as the quantity, date, and administrator associated with the addition or removal of licenses.

Figure 4. The Purchase History tab of the Microsoft Licensing administrative tool

To view cumulative information about licensing and compliance, click the Products View tab. This tab shows how many licenses have been purchased and allocated to users or devices (in Per Device or Per User mode) or the number of licenses purchased for all servers in the site and the peak connections reached to date (in Per Server mode). You can also determine compliance using the licensing status symbols shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Licensing Status Symbols
SymbolLicensing Status

The product is in compliance with legal licensing requirements. The number of connections is less than the number of licenses purchased.

The product is not in compliance with legal licensing requirements. The number of connections exceeds the number of licenses purchased.

The product has reached the legal limit. The number of connections equals the number of licenses purchased. If additional devices or users will connect to the server product, you must purchase and log new licenses.

License Groups

Per Device or Per User licensing requires one CAL for each device. However, the License Logging service assigns and tracks licenses by user name. When multiple users share one or more devices, you must create license groups, or else licenses will be consumed too rapidly.

A license group is a collection of users who collectively share one or more CALs. When a user connects to the server product, the License Logging service tracks the user by name, but assigns a CAL from the allocation assigned to the license group. The concept is easiest to understand with examples:

  • 10 users share a single handheld device for taking inventory. A license group is created with the 10 users as members. The license group is assigned one CAL, representing the single device they share.

  • 100 students occasionally use a computer lab with 10 computers. A license group is created with the 100 students as members, and is allocated 10 CALs.

To create a license group, click the Options menu and, from the Advanced menu, choose New License Group. Enter the group name and allocate one license for each client device used to access the server. The number of licenses allocated to a group should correspond to the number of devices used by members of the group.

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