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Terminal Services / RD licensing set up on Server 2012

I don't know if it's just me or if Microsoft really overcomplicated how this works on Server 2012 (compared to 2008/2003)

We have one "Licensing Server".  Then we have machines joined to our AD domain.   All we used to need to do was set up terminal services on the client machine, point to our licensing server, and give it the extra user-CAL's it needed (something like that, it's been a while but I remember it was really simple)

Server 2012 seems quick a muck up...

I'm not even sure exactly what to install but the process of getting RD Licensing on the client machine. it seems to end up making me install EVERYTHING (RD Licensing, RD Gateway, RD Connection Broker, RD Virtualization Host, RD Session Host). I know I don't need everything but I didn't see any other way.

So where I'm at now, is that I did somehow get it working (more than 2 users are able to RDP simultaneously into the client machine currently),  but the user is seeing a warning pop up in their task menu saying:

'Remote Desktop Services will stop working in xx days. On the RD Connection Broker server, use Server Manager to specify the Remote Desktop licensing mode and the license server.'

I found this article:
but it has steps via Group Policy.

I don't know if that is necessary I'd rather not use GP because all these client machines are under one OU, but some are Server 2003 and use a different licensing server for example so I don't want to change the GP for the entire OU.

I may have set this up all wrong on this 2012 client machine I don't know.  Is there a way to set this up to be completely stand-alone? (be it's own licensing server and everything self-contained), because I can't find any way to point it to our licensing server (which doesn't run 2012 so maybe it won't be possible anyway)

If my question sounds confusing, let me first ask this:

- if the server is joined to OUR domain, can it still be a self-contained licensing server, or does the fact that it's joined to our AD mean we have to point it to our licensing server somewhere?

In other words, I don't necessarily mind setting this up as a stand-alone and not needing an external licensing server, but WILL THAT WORK if this machine is joined to our AD domain?  

Below are screenshots of how things look currently on the client machine.  This is working (3-4 users can be RDP'd in at once), but something will stop working in 72 days, so obviously I didn't do this 100% correct.

I don't currently see any way to point this client machine to using our licensing server.

(These are all screenhosts from the client machine)

RD Licensing Manager

Deployment Overview

When I right click and go to "Add..." on either the 'RD Licensing' or the 'RD Session Host' icons, I basically get an empty window  and have no servers to select  (nothing under Server Pool, nothing under Selected)

For example:


Again, I'd gladly make this a standalone session host/licensing server, I think that would be easier if it's possible and can be done even though the machine is joined to our AD domain.

Thanks for any assistance.
Windows Server 2012Active Directory

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8/22/2022 - Mon

Do you already have a Remote Desktop licensing server running 2012 or later in your environment?

No, the one we do have is a 2008 licensing server.

WIll I be able to just install all this as stand-alone on the client machine (does it matter if they are joined to our AD)?

Right now it is pretty much a stand-alone set up, just not sure what is missing exactly.


Yes, you can install the needed role services on a single domain-joined machine. In fact, it's easiest to manage that way, unless that machine is also a domain controller.

You'll need the Session Host, Connection Broker, and Licensing role services on that machine; the Virtualization Host and Web Access services can be removed if you're not going to use them.

To specify a license server and licensing mode in Server Manager, click the Remote Desktop role on the main dashboard, then click the Tasks dropdown at the top of the Deployment Overview section and select Edit Deployment Properties.

In the properties window, click RD Licensing, then select the appropriate licensing mode and specify the license server and click OK.
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William Peck

Hi DrDave,

Getting close I think, but here's where it's still stuck.

So I did what you said  (Tasks -> Edit Deployment Properties), and at first there wasn't anything configured for the type of licensing mode, so I set it to PER-User.

The local server name was already in the bottom screen.

I thought that would fix the issue but I logged out / in and still had an error which is this:

Task Error

This says to specify the

I went back into the settings and they did save, it shows Per User is selected and lists the FQDN of the local server in the 2nd box:

Deployment Properties - RD Licensing

So this does now appear configured after I made the change you suggested,  but it's still complaining about something.

I've seen this happen for no apparent reason before. Try restarting the Remote Desktop service or rebooting the server, as this sometimes fixes it.

Hi DrDave,

Still struggling with this. Rebooting didn't resolve the problem.

You mentioned I need "Session Host, Connection Broker, and Licensing role services", which are all there.

I do see the local server name if I right click Session Host or RD Licensing and select "remove" (I didn't remove anything, just mentioning that I do see the server name listed there)

For RD Connection Broker however, those items are grayed out (I can't add or remove):

connection broker

I suspect this is the problem? I don't know why it's grayed out however.

Also, do I need to create a "collection"?

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In Server Manager, open the Tools menu and select Terminal Services > RD Licensing Diagnoser. What does it report?

In Server Manager, open the Tools menu and select Terminal Services > RD Licensing Diagnoser. What does it report?

Ok yes it shows all kinds of issues there:


I think the user may have changed or removed some things as I know I installed 2 licenses on this server when I initially set this up, now I don't even see the 'Remote Desktop Licensing Manager' installed on this box  :/

I think I will remove all these RD related roles/services and start over.

It looks like the user tried to install Active Directory for some reason recently (but didn't promote it to a PDC), I had them remove that since they are joined to our domain and so don't need AD Services, not sure if that or something else broke all this.

In a nutshell, assuming I start fresh,  when installing all this again do I need to go through the install twice?  Once, selecting "Role-based or feature-based installation",  and then again selecting "Remote Desktop Services Installation".  

When I initially set this up I tried to do the minimum of what was needed but it always seemed something was missing and I had to go back and install everything in the end.

I really hate what Microsoft did to RD services in 2012.
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Thanks, haven't heard back from our user so haven't been able to re-do the configuration but wanted to give you credit for your answers.