What are the minimum requirements to legitimately allow multiple non-admin users to RDP into and use a Windows machine?

Simon R
Simon R used Ask the Experts™
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Currently a base install of Windows Server 2019 (on AWS) allows two admin users to connect to it via RDP to administer the machine.

What is the minimum (in terms of machines and MS software) required to legitimately enable 3 or more non-admin users to RDP into and run applications on the machine?  I'm guessing it needs a minimum of a licence server with CALs, and the licence server probably needs to be on a domain.

It would be really good if I could avoid the hassle of setting up a domain controller etc. The machine doesn't need to use the bloat of RDS unless its required by the licensing mechanism.
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Simon RDeveloper

Author

Commented:
I understand that.

I'm trying to find out the minimum I can get away with though.  To apply the RDS role, the machine needs to be connected to a domain controller, and in order to accept non-admin users it also needs a licence server.  It's not clear how much of this can be handled on the same machine.

It may be that that setting this up is too complex and I could be better off using Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure instead, but I'd like to see what's involved so that I can make an informed decision about it.
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
You need a Windows Server license, A Windows User Client Access License (PER HUMAN BEING that uses the server, NOT per concurrent connection), and a Windows User Remote Desktop Services Client Access License (PER HUMAN BEING).  (Per device is technically available but generally, if licensed properly, it will cost more to license per Device as most of users use multiple devices, especially if they connect from outside the office).

I do not know how this all plays out in a cloud environment.  But if you ran on premises, that's what you need in terms of license.

From an on premises licensing perspective, RDS can be SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than Windows Virtual desktops.  I priced this out for a client about 18 months ago and it was at least DOUBLE the cost to use VDA over RDS.

As for configuration, a domain is not necessary.  I STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING ONE as I believe it's far easier to setup than to setup an RDS server without a domain, but strictly speaking, a domain is not necessary.  There is documentation out there for setting up RDS without a domain.  You need  a license server and the RDS server itself.  Both these roles can live on one system. BUT, you'll still need to configure the RDS server part to use the license server installed on it - it won't automatically know it's there even though it's installed.  And you'll need to install the RDS CALs you purchase into the RDS License Server.
Simon RDeveloper

Author

Commented:
Thanks Lee, that was the depth of information I was looking for. It sounds like you *can* run it all from one machine, but that's likely to lead to headaches down the road, so a two machine system is the minimum sensible option.

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