Do I really need Windows 2000 Server licensing for WinXP users ...?

Posted on 2007-10-06
Last Modified: 2010-04-13
For Windows 2000 Server using Per Seat Licensing ...

Users acquire a CAL for each workstation or other device that connects to any licensed server. There are built-in CALs for WindowsXP (is this for Pro only, does it include Home versions?) and WIndows 2000 clients, that do not require licensing.

I only want to use this server for Terminal Services remote logins. All of my remote users use WinXP Pro or WinXP Home.

If, as I understand it, I don't need to buy CALs for use in this application, then when I setup the Windows 2000 server is it correct for me to choose PER SEAT LICENSING and/or do I even install Licensing at alll...?

I'm just trying to be clear on this because I understand if you set up your WIn2K server wrong, the only way to correct it is to completely reinstall the operating system.

Thank you
Question by:larryinla
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    There are two ways to install Terminal Server in Windows 2000 Server.

    One is Administrative mode, and the other is Application mode.

    The Administrative mode only allows administrators to log in, only allows two users, and is the  normal way to do it for a PDC or similar for remote administration.   It doesn't require a license server.

    The Application mode _does_ require a PDC to use as a terminal server license server, which will require at least a single five user license pack.

    If all of your clients are Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional computers, then you will not need any more license packs - those are built in.   If you need XP Home (Or Vista Home, etc), Windows 98, ME, or Linux, those will use one of the five licenses available.

    Again - Windows XP Home _does_ require a separate license, which is assigned _permanantly_ to that computer.  You can't revoke it manually, you'd either have to redo the machine and reinstall the license pack, or wait the three months (as I recall) for it to expire out of the system.  

    If you are _only_ using the machine for terminal services, then the standard licensing doesn't apply, beyond the 5 user standard license that comes with Server itself.  

    If you have only one Server, you'll have to set it up as a PDC, and go through some rigamarole with group policy and rights assignments so that normal users can log into the server itself.

    Does that help?

    Author Comment

    For a little more clarification, please ...

    The Win2K server in question is solely for remote login by WinXP users (Pro and a few Home), and no applications are run from this server other than Terminal Service, essentially as a channel to the accounting system hosted on a different server. There is no local access to this machine needed and there are no local client/server applications locally offered. There are potentially, up to 10 remote users that could be on at the same time.

    So to be clear, during installation when asked to install licensing, choose yes and when asked whether to choose PER SEAT or PER SERVER, choose PER SEAT and then never worry about licensing again?
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    No - Per Seat locks a license to a user/machine.  Per Server means that you get X number of logins to the server, for any set of users, up to the number of licenses you have.

    However, those licenses are the base _server_ licenses.  They are not the terminal server licenses.   There are two sets of licenses for Terminal Server.  

    Here's a layout for you.

    Main Server <-------------> Terminal Server <------------> External Users.

    The main server contains the actual network licenses.  Terminal server doesn't tend to use those in this configuration.  

    The Main Server will have to be a Primary Domain Controller for your domain.  The Terminal Server should be a standalone unit.    

    You _will_ need at least a 5 client Terminal Services license, which will have to be installed on a license server.  This will have to be activated on the main server, not the terminal server.

    For every XP Home user you might have connect, you'll need one license.  You will not need to account for the licenses for XP Professional or Windows 2000 professional users.

    The terminal server is easiest to set up as a 'per server'.


    Author Comment


    Added clarification ...

    We do not use a true client/server environment. The Terminal Server is a stand alone machine, servicing remote users who need to enter data into our accounting system. We don't have a domain controller or a license or application server. It's simply being used as a 'point of contact' for remote users. That's why I don't want to deal with licensing at all if I don't have to.

    It will be easier for me to upgrade my XP Home users to Pro, so that I can use 'built-in' licenses for everyone who logs in remotely. So how do I set that up?

    I am assuming that means that I set it up Per Server and then never setup the licensing. Is this correct?

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Okay - here's the problem.

    With no license server setup, you can _only_ have two users at a time in the box.  Those users have to have administrative rights.

    If you need more than two people in at a time, you have to have a license server.  Microsoft's Terminal Licensing Server can only be installed on a Primary Domain Controller.  

    2003 terminal server is the same way - one console, two remote users.  

    The 'built in licenses' for XP Professional/2000 Pro are only usable for windows 2000 terminal server - and they'd still require an activated terminal server licensing server - on a PDC. - shows a way to have multiple users log into an XP Professional workstation, if you have spare workstations around.  I guess if you had the resources and licenses handy, you could load two or three XP Pro sessions in a VMware, and use those as a 'poor man's terminal server gang'.  

    How many users are you trying to have work remotely _at a time_ in the application?   Also, what kind of application is it?  Web based, windows based, streaming?   (I'm asking because some small apps might be usable over a VPN connection rather than using Terminal Services).  

    Author Comment

    Okay, here's what is weird then. We actually had an old box that 4 to 5 people at a time were logging into and when you looked at the licensing it reports 50 seats, though I know none were ever bought. All I did was buy an upgraded but fairly low end server from Dell and I'm installing Win2K on this box, really only wanting to duplicate the environment in a better box.

    Remote users (up to 10, possibly at once though somewhat unlikely), are going to login to this box under Terminal Services to enter sales invoices, purchase orders and bills into QuickBooks. On occasion they may need to send an email or print remotely but that's the extent of what they need to do.

    As I said, the way that I understand it, the built-in CALs will handle WinXP Pro (at least) and Win2000 client (which we don't have anyway) because they are essentially 'pre-paid' in the cost of the program. So if I have to add licensing, which I tried on a test install, why can't it be added to the machine I'm setting up? If I had to, I guess I could install it on another box somewhere.

    Using XP Pro as a Terminal Server has all sorts of issues that I wouldn't like to get into. Our Win2K environment, on a newer, faster computer, with two nic cards, should do everything that we need. I know there's a way to do this, just trying to confirm it so that I don't have to do a bunch of installs and test until I get it right.
    LVL 7

    Accepted Solution

    Okay - you MIGHT be able to get away without adding licenses, by using existing clients, but here's a link -

    When I just finished installing a set of servers, the system forced me to install the TS Licensing server on the PDC, rather than allowing it on the standalone secondary server.  Now, if the server is _not_ part of a domain at all, perhaps it will let you install and activating the licensing system on the server itself, but  I haven't tried that.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Okay - that second link I sent to you _does_ mention it, briefly - if you're _only_ using a workgroup, you don't have to put the licensing server on the domain controller.  If you have a domain at all, you _must_ put it on a domain controller.


    Author Comment

    Okay, I think we're on the right track. Only using a workgroup, not a domain.

    After reading through the TechNet article, and assuming I set the server up as Per Server licensing ...

    I should be able to install licensing on the workgroup server and all clients that need a license should be able to access the built-in licenses automatically. I'm going to try it. If I do then I think we have a solution that I can accept. I'll be back after I give it a try.

    Thanks, Biblio
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Good luck with it - sorry it took so long to winkle out the answer you really needed (I hope)

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