Transfer Some RDP licenses from Server 2003 to 2012

Posted on 2013-12-05
Last Modified: 2015-02-28
Dear Experts,

Sadly, I really know nothing of this so really need pretty explicit instructions..

We have a new server computer we haven't started using yet, because we haven't been able to figure out how to get remote desktop licenses on it so we can log in remotely. This server runs the windows server 2012. Unfortunately, since we couldn't figure out how to set that up, it's now been X number of days and the grace period has expired and we can no longer remote in.

So, we have another computer that we're using and it's a windows server 2003 computer. It has quite a few licenses that we own on it. The documentation windows has is very confusing and I am not sure.. but it seems to imply I can migrate some licenses from the other server over to the new one. But I can't tell if I have to do all of them (which can't work for us, we still need our other server to work!) or if maybe I can migrate like, 5 of them?

Is it possible to move some licenses from the old server to the new one and if so, exactly how do I do it?

Thanks so much!
Question by:JeffreyDurham
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LVL 96

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 39699201
Microsoft uses a License Server for Remote Desktop Services/Terminal Services.  The CALs you buy are good only for the version you buy them for and prior versions, NOT future versions.  If you have 2003 TS CALs or even 2008 RDS CALs (Terminal Services was renamed in 2008 R2 to Remote Desktop Services (RDS)), then you need to buy new RDS 2012 CALs.  I believe you'll also need a 2012 RDS Licensing server (this can be the same system, you need to install the role).

If you're not familiar with RDS services and licensing, you should hire a consultant who can get this working for you - there are BOOKS on the stuff and condensing them into a few comments here is not likely to solve your issue in a long term way.

Author Comment

ID: 39699393
It's true everything I read makes it very unclear as to whether old licenses can be used on the new servers.. see this article, for example... It seems to imply it might be possible, but it really doesn't clarify very well, or even what the consequences are to doing so if it does work..

we definitely can't afford to higher a consultant to help us, but we can afford Experts Exchange. :)

Author Comment

ID: 39699524
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Author Comment

ID: 39699575
Ok, so far our research is implying that the OEM is /not/ what we want and those are licenses that are for preinstallation on windows and are not transferable between computers and don't have microsoft support. So I guess OEM is bad..
LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 39700128
A consultant could end up saving you money.  I recently was asked to review a quote on two new workstations the client had ALREADY purchased.  They spent $1200 on the systems... if they asked for my services, they would have spent $150 on me and I would have gotten them appropriate systems for $900... so they OVER SPENT by thinking they would do it themselves.

Microsoft sells Client Access Licenses - CALs.  A basic Windows Server Device or User CAL is valid for Windows servers running the CAL license version AND EARLIER.  A 2008 CAL is valid for accessing Windows 2000, 2003, and 2008 servers.  NOT 2012 servers. A 2012 CAL is valid for 2012, 2008, 2003, and 2000 servers.  HOWEVER, the CALs are for connecting to servers for BASIC services like file and print, authentication, and MOST other access.  They DO NOT cover Remote Desktop Services.  For that you need RDS CALs - which are ADDITIVE and NOT all inclusive.  So if you have a 2012 RDS server, you need to buy BOTH standard CALs *AND* RDS CALs.

MOST CALs are just LOGICALLY assigned on paper, but RDS CALs are assigned through a licensing server.  Each user must have a CAL and they are not transferrable for 90 days - once assigned to a human, they remain with that human (NOT user account) for 90 days.  The only way to transfer that CAL earlier than 90 days after assignment is to terminate the user's employment.  Likewise, if you should purchase Device based CALs, the license is assigned and must remain with that device for 90 days unless that device is completely removed from production.

PLEASE NOTE: Licensing advice offered from sources other than Microsoft is a best efforts attempt.  Licensing can vary from region to region and our interpretation may not be accurate.  Further, licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or laws could be in place or implemented that makes aspects of the license no longer valid.  Please consult both an appropriate attorney in your region and Microsoft to fully ensure you are in license compliance.  "They told me on the internet" will not be a valid defense in an audit.

Author Comment

ID: 39701503
Thank you Leew for taking the time to explain all that, now I understand a /lot/ more about how the licenses work. We definitely are going to end up needing to purchase the licenses, and we're actually even thinking of just doing it through Microsoft.. (their prices are better now than they were awhile ago, and the support and such is there, then)

I know we were talking to them on livechat yesterday, just to make sure we're getting the right stuff. I'll inquire though to make sure we're getting the RDL CAL licenses too.

Hope you have a great weekend, and thank you for all the help! ~Jeffrey

Expert Comment

ID: 40637640

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