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Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard CAL's

Posted on 2014-12-17
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Hello
Iv'e been in contact with Microsoft's support online and Sales and I'm a bit confused about the licensing with Windows Server 2012 R2. More exactly when I need to purchase CAL's. They have told me different things about the CAL requirement.

I have already purchased Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. I intend to set it up to share files and folders over the internal network. Plain old file sharing. Do I need to purchase user CAL's for this?

As one of the MS online representative told me in one occasion, since it's a R2 I only need user CAL's if I were to use e.g.  Remote Desktop Services, or install a SQL server. For "built-in" features such as filesharing and/or e.g. running a website with IIS I don't need CAL's.

Another MS guy told me I need CAL's as soon as "users" accesses the server so whats the deal? Who is right?
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Question by:Bes4dmin
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Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40504824
You need CALs. If you are going to license per user then user CALs are required. *Any* access to the server requires a windows CAL. Thing like RDS require additional additive CALs like RDS CALs. They don't replace windows CALs, but allow the use of that additional access.
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by:Bes4dmin
ID: 40504886
Ok, they told me the difference between Win Server 2012 and Win Server 2012 R2 was that in R2 user CAL's was included for basic stuff. And they gave me the example that if I were to setup a public website it wouldn't be possible to purchase user CAL's for every visitor. What about that?

You are telling me that if I share a folder I need to purchase a CAL for every user that would access this shared folder? That's insane! I don't think this was the case in previous Windows server editions.
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Accepted Solution

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Cliff Galiher earned 2000 total points
ID: 40504968
Here is the Microsoft datasheet on licensing 2012 R2. It is pretty darn clear:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/3/9/F39124F7-0177-463C-8A08-582463F96C9D/Windows_Server_2012_R2_Licensing_Datasheet.pdf

Regarding the public website, 2012 and 2012 R2 operate under the same licensing model. 2008 R2 and earlier had a "web edition" that went away, so starting with 2012, Server Standard *can* be used to host public web content without CALs. *HOWEVER* like the web edition, all content *MUST* be public. If you put anything behind any sort of authentication wall, CALs or an EC are still required. This has not changed since Server 2000/2003. The only change was the retirement of the web edition and those benefits getting rolled into Standard under very specific terms. And that happened with 2012, *not* 2012 R2.  Whoever told you that is very misinformed.

"You are telling me that if I share a folder I need to purchase a CAL for every user that would access this shared folder?"

Yes, that is what I'm telling you.

"I don't think this was the case in previous Windows server editions."

This is *exactly* the case in previous Windows editions. A file server has required CALs to access a file share for as long as windows has had a fileserver role (NT 3.5?) and the CAL model has not changed significantly and is still true even up to 2012 R2. Again, reference the link I provided.

You can also reference the full PUR, which covers not only more detailed CAL scenarios, but explicitly addresses the web workload carve-out and makes it very clear that only fully public content meets this exclusion.

http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/products/products.aspx
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Author Closing Comment

by:Bes4dmin
ID: 40505036
Thank you for clarifying. I was apparently very misinformed.
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