Migrating a Windows Server 2003 TS License Server

Migrating a Windows Server 2003 TS License Server

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This article is designed to help those who want to migrate their Windows Server 2003 TS License Server from one machine to another. We recommend that you read through the instructions once before beginning the migration.

License Server migration is an added feature in Windows Server 2008 R2. In Windows Server 2008 R2, when you right-click on the server name you will see the ‘Manage RDS CALs’ option. After selecting this, you will see the ‘Manage RDS CALs Wizard’ to guide you through the migration process. But to migrate Windows Server 2008 license server, you need to follow the same steps as mentioned in the post.

The migration of your license server requires three stages. First, you must activate the new license server. Next, you need to deactivate the old server. Lastly, you need to move all the licenses from the old server to the new server. To do this, you will need to contact Microsoft Clearinghouse over the telephone. You should to be prepared with the paperwork for the original TS licenses, as this data needs to be provided to clearinghouse personnel. If the original paperwork is lost, then you need to contact your Microsoft TAM (Technical Account Manager) to obtain copies.

To migrate your license server:

Step 1: Activate the new license server:


  1. Setup a machine running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 as a license server. [UPDATE: Corrected from Win2003 to Win2008/Win2008R2]
  2. Open the TS License Manager tool (licmgr.exe)
  3. Activate the server by right-clicking on the server name under the ‘All servers’ node in the left pane and selecting ‘Activate Server’. The Activate Server Wizard will open.
  4. Click Next. Select ‘Telephone’ as your connection method and click Next.
  5. On the ‘Country or Region Selection’ page, select your appropriate country and region.
  6. The next page will provide you with the License Server ID and the Microsoft Clearinghouse telephone number to call. Write them on a piece of paper but don’t make the call yet. You may want to keep the wizard open.

Step 2: De-activate the old license server:

  1. Open the TS License Manager tool on your old license server.
  2. Change the connection method to telephone by right-clicking the server name under the ‘All servers’ node in the left pane, selecting ‘Properties,’ and setting the connection method to ‘Telephone’.
  3. Again right-click the server name under the ‘All servers’ node in the left pane, select ‘Advanced’ and then select ‘Deactivate Server.’ The License Server Deactivation Wizard will open. Click ‘Next’.
  4. On the ‘License Server Deactivation’ page, you will be provided with the same clearinghouse phone number and the License Server ID of your old server. Make a note of this License Server ID as you need to provide this to Microsoft Clearinghouse.
  5. Call Microsoft Clearinghouse at the number you have noted and give them the product ID of the new license server which you want to activate and of the old license server which you want to deactivate. Once you have given them this information, Microsoft Clearinghouse will provide you with the confirmation code. Enter this code into the License Server Deactivation Wizard when prompted.

Step 3: Move each of the license key packs one by one, from the older LS to the new one:

  1. On the same call with the clearinghouse, inform them that you also want to migrate the licenses.
  2. Open the License Install Wizard on the new license server.
  3. Provide the following information to the clearinghouse which they will use to generate the new License Key Pack ID:
    1. The license server ID of the old license server
    2. Paper work for the original TS licenses
  4. Enter the new license key pack ID in the Install License Wizard and complete the License Installation on the new license server.
  5. Repeat the same process for migration of all license key packs.
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  • Please add 4 and 8 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Yes, a device with a Win2008 TS CAL can connect to a Win2003 or Win2008 TS.  No need for two sets of CALs.

  • Hi Silvia,

    Nice explanation. I joined a company with a TS 2003 Server. If I go to Start | Administrative Tools | Terminal Server Licensing the only thing I see is the built-in Windows 2000 Server TS CAL token which has unlimited licenses. I don't see any other info.

    We do have 2003 TS CAL for all our users (original paperwork from the reseller) but I don't see any of this CAL activated. Curiously there has been no issues or complains from the TS Server and there are no temp licenses issued either.

    Will you have an idea as to what might be happening? I want to be legal and I don't want any problems.

    I noticed this now because we are upgrading hardware (we will keep 2003 TS) and I fear I will run into trouble.


  • Hi Richard,

    The reason your getting only the Built-in CALs is that you haven't instlled the CAL Packs yet for which you have the paper work. What is the licensing mode set on the Terminal Server? I guess you have set the mode to 'Per User'. As Per User is not enforced in Windows Server 2003 you are neither getting any error nor connectio denial.

    You nede to change the TS Licensing mode to 'Per Device' and install the appropriate CAL Packs on the license server.

    Hope that helps!



  • I agree with Silvia on the reasoning for what you are seeing, but switching to Per-Device licensing is neither recommended nor required, unless it makes sense for your business.  Make sure you're apropriately licensed, then decide which mode works best for your business (per-device or per-user.  As Silvia stated, per-user terminal server licensing is not inforced, but that is not a good reason to switch to per-device licensing, just make sure you are in compliance by counting the number of "people" that ever connect to your terminal servers and making sure you have enough per-user TSCALs for each of those users.  

    A valid reason to use per-device licensing would be in a factory or hospital where you have 2-3 shifts of employees using the same client devices, where the number of users is more than the number of devices.

  • Thanks Silvia and Patrick.

    To Silvia: I shouldn't switch to per-device since what I want is per-user. My only concern is what will happen once I install the CAL packs on the license server. Will the server start "handing" out this licenses and properly reflect the amount left or will it screw up things for me?

    I'm convince and assured of the fact that I have less TS users than I have TS CAL, so in that sense I'm not really concerned (I have enough to increase TS users in 30%). But I have this worry: legally speaking, Am I breaking the law by not having activated the TS CAL even though I have enough of them to cover my selected licensed mode?

    The fact that per-user license is not enforced might be the explanation as to why there are no problems so far.

    At Patrick: So by assuring that I don't have more TS users than TS CAL I can continue without ever activating the license packs?


  • Per User TSCALs are not handed out, so installing the pack will not make any difference.  I'm not a lawyer or Microsoft employee, but in my opinion so long as you can prove that you own sufficient licenses if audited by the BSA you should be fine.  I don't see installing the packs as necessary.  In 2008 R2 RDS Per User licensing is still not "enforced", but one can report on the usage.

  • Thanks Patrick.

    Your post also gave me the answer to a question I had the intention to ask regarding the per-user license in the last version of Windows Server.


  • I am setting up a new 2008 licensing server to replace a 2003 licensing server.  Can my current 2003 CALs be upgraded to 2008 CALS if I decide to replace any 2003 terminal servers to 2008?  Thanks very much.

  • Just wondering why the new licensing server needs to be W2K8? I have a few 2K3 Terminal Servers and I need to move the licensing from one to another. The current licensing server has major registry problems and is corrupting all user profiles so I'd prefer to start from scratch on it but I need to first move the licensing component.

    Is there still a need to move to 2008 in this scenario?

  • @Joe W.:

    If all your Terminal Servers are Win2003, there's no need for a Win2008 License Server.  If you have any Win2008 TSs, you do need a Win2008 (or Win2008 R2) LS.


  • Fine article, thanks. And now for my question:

    I have just replaced my three dc’s from w2k3 to w2k8 R2.

    All my TS’s are w2k3.

    One of the old dc’s was (still is) LS.

    I have SA on all TS CALs.

    Can I just install LS on one of the new dc’s, add w2k8 TS CAL’s, and then turn the old LS off?  Wouldn’t that avoid time without a LS?

  • @Mads:

    Yes, this should work.


  • Thank you Rob. I figured as much, but was confused that Step 1 above was "corrected" to say a 2008 server was needed. Since the title of the article is referencing Server 2003 and moving licenses to another unspecified server, I was wondering why the first step needed to be corrected.

    I guess it does not. Thanks again!

  • Can I move Term licensing server from one w2k3 box to another w2k3 box and move the CALs at the same time?

  • Hi Kevin,

    You need to install the licensing role on the new server and then you can migrate the cal packs to the new server one by one.



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