What’s the difference between a RDS CAL and a TS CAL?

What’s the difference between a RDS CAL and a TS CAL?

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Hi, I’m Alex from the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) team.  I want to talk about the Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL which replaces the older Terminal Services (TS) CAL.  I want to explain why the name changed, what this means for you and how we have added some great new value to the RDS CAL.  There are 4 key changes I want to clarify:

1.       Equivalence of the Windows Server 2008 TS CAL & Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL

2.       Difference in price between 2008 TS CAL and 2008 RDS CAL

3.       Transition Pricing & Availability of TS CAL and RDS CAL

4.       Inclusion of Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) for TS with the 2008 TS CALs and 2008 RDS CALs

The rest of this post explores these items in more detail.

Equivalence of Windows Server 2008 TS CAL & Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL

Last year, we changed the name of Terminal Services to Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2.  As such, we renamed the CAL. You may notice the CAL is called a Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL (rather than 2008 R2 CAL).  This is because R2 is a refresh release and while you need to buy new Windows Server licenses you do not need to buy new RDS CALs if you already own 2008 TS CALs.  This means you can use the Windows Server 2008 TS CALs with your Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services.  If you have Windows Server 2003 TS CALs you will need to buy new RDS 2008 CALs.

Difference in price between 2008 TS CAL and 2008 RDS CAL

With Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services , Microsoft has added some fantastic new capabilities that improve the traditional Session Host scenarios (formerly known as terminal server) and enable new emerging Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) scenarios. For example, RDS provides:

·         Simplified management with a unified and scalable connection broker for both Session Desktops and VDI Desktops providing:

o   Unified Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web Access) and  ‘RemoteApp and Desktop Connection’ feature for access to VDI and Session Desktops

o   Ensures users can only see the apps they are supposed to with per-user RemoteApp permissions and  filtering

·         Provides the user a rich remote experience, bringing the experience closer to that enjoyed by users accessing local computing resources such as:

o   True multi-monitor support

o   Windows Media® Player redirection,

o   Bidirectional audio,

o   Enhanced bitmap acceleration for 3D applications and rich media content such as Silverlight and Flash.

·         Improved application compatibility and management of RD session host servers with the inclusion of Microsoft Application Virtualization for TS

To reflect the addition of these new features and capabilities in Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services the price of the Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL will be approximately 5% higher than the previous Windows Server 2008 TS CAL it replaces.

Transition Pricing & Availability of TS CAL and RDS CAL

We understand that for some of our customers this may be an unexpected change.  As such we will be offering Windows Server 2008 RDS CALs at a transition price equivalent to the old TS CAL from their introduction on September 1, 2009 until December 31, 2009.  Beginning January 1, 2010 any new RDS CAL sales will be at the normal RDS CAL price.

The Windows Server 2008 TS CAL will no longer be available after September 1, 2009 if you have any version of Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services you should purchase Windows Server 2008 RDS CALs.

Inclusion of Microsoft Application Virtualization for TS with the 2008 TS CAL and 2008 RDS CALs

Application compatibility and management are  significant drivers of cost for many TS / RDS customers.  By including the right to use App-V for TS as part of the TS & RDS CALs we have simplified licensing and enabled as many of our RDS customers to enjoy the benefits that App-V for TS provides; which in addition to solving app-to-app conflicts and multiuser application conflicts also enables you to do the following for both you terminal servers and session host (session hosts are the new name for terminal servers!):

·         Consolidate Session Host / terminal servers and end server siloing

·         End application conflicts and regression testing

·         Accelerate application deployment for Session Hosts

·         Reduce Deployment Risk

·         Simplify Profile Management

For more information on the benefits of Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services see http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/appv/terminalsvcs.mspx

The App-V CAL for TS will not be available for purchase after November 1st 2009.

Note: This does not affect App-V for Desktop licensing on Windows .  App-V for Desktops continues to be included and licensed via the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) with no change.

For more detail please visit here.
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  • Are Remote Desktop user CALs built-into Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate like they were with the business/professional versions of XP and Vista? Or do I need to purchase RDS CALs separately for Windows Server 2008 R2 if Windows 7 clients are to run Remote Desktop on it? If I want to run 20 concurrent remote desktop sessions from my new Windows 7 machines, will I need to purchase additional user CALs (not Remote Desktop CALs) as well? The licensing issues are mind numbing because I am also confused as to which license type I need. Volume or some other? Actual product numbers for the Remote Desktop CALs would be helpful.

  • Technically TS CALs were not built-into Xp/Vista Pro editions.  In 2000 Terminal Server Licensing there was a "built-in" pool of licenses that would allocate a license when a 2000+ client would connect.  This was retired when 2003 shipped, but Microsoft extended an "transition plan" to customers with XP Pro licenses that were purchased before 2003 shipped.  In the transition plan these customers could contact the Microsoft Clearinghouse to get a TSCAL for each of these XP Pro licenses.

  • Let me rephrase my question: Are Remote Desktop user CALs built-into Windows 7 (Professional and Ultimate)?

  • @Alan, Patrick's answer is correct.  Remote Desktop CALs aren't built into any version of Windows.

    Each connection to Windows Server 2008 R2 requires a Windows Server CAL and a Remote Desktop CAL.  For Remote Desktop, you can either choose Per Device or Per User CALs.

  • I am Observing iamge quality problem in one scenario on Windows 2008 R2. Client running Windows XP (installed RDC 6.1) will connect to a Remote App program published by Windows 2008 R2 server (This is a 3d rendering application, which will show images in cine mode).

    I could connect to remote app program from clinet but I am observing information loss on Image being displayed in client side. Same issue observed even If I try Remote desktop connection to server from client and run the application locally.

    I read that RDP uses lossless compression technique.

    What is the default compression technique being used by Windows 2008 R2 for Remote App?

    How can I change this value to no compression?

  • RDP compression settings are in Group Policy and compression can be enabled/disabled via manually editing one's RDP file or perhaps the Default.rdp file on the client.  Using uncompressed RDP will use dramatically more bandwidth.

    Have you ensured that you have enabled 32 bit color depth, as the default limit is 16 bit for RDP.  This can be set via GPO or in the Terminal Services configuration on the Remote Desktop Session Host.

  • Thanks Patrick for your suggestion.

    I ensured the color depth as 32 bpp in client connection, experience tab of Terminal server configuration. I set compression:i:0, session bpp:i:32 in .rdp file.

    Still I am seeing some pixelated image.

    I tried RDC and checked the same still I am seeing patches in image( Same behaviour through RemoteApp and RDC)

    Currently I am using Windows 2008 SP2. Does it work in R2 only? how about RDP version? server shows RDP 6.1 entry in terminal services configuration.

    Are there any updates related to RemoteApp and image quality in R2?

    For medical applications Image quality is an important aspect.

  • Can you post a URL where I can download a reference image that I can test, along with screenshots from the server console as well as from a remote desktop session?  

    Please verify that in your RDP session that the display color depth is actually 32 bit color depth.

  • Can a Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL be installed on a W2003 Terminal Server Licesing server? ... My company has all w2003 servers and we don't want to buy a W2008 license just for the MS licensing service ...


  • @gianbf: No, a Win2008 CAL can't be installed on a Win2003 LS.  You could install the Win2003 LS role on one of your existing Win2003 servers, though.

  • We have SBS Premium.  We are using the Server 2008 Second Copy to run our terminal services server.  This server is NOT R2.  Can I purchase a RDS single licnese and us it in Server 2008.


  • We are using the Server 2008 to run our terminal services server.  This server is NOT R2.  

    Can I purchase a RDS license and use it in Server 2008 ?


  • Is there a EULA for RDS CAL?where can it be read?

  • @Silvia: Your reply to @Pete above does not work.

    RDS 2k8 CAL License Codes will be rejected on a 2k3 Server running TS Licensing.

    The ONLY way to install RDS 2k8 CALS on a 2k3 or 2k3 R2 server is to go to Licensing Wizard Properties and change the licensing method to telephone. Then spend forever on the phone reading off your 35-character server ID and 25-character license codes and getting back your 35-character keypack IDs.

    In my case, the process was exacerbated by the 7-minute hold time and the fact that the Indian support rep on the other end and I could barely understand each other, despite the fact we were both using the NATO phonetic alphabet. Pretty bad when even that can't be understood.

  • @Stevadson: Your understanding of the reply is incorrect. Windows Server 2008 TS CALs can be issued for the Windows Server 2003 TS but not installed on Windows Server 2003 license server. The reply was in refrence to issuance and not installation.

    Hope that clarifies.



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