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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  • Hello,

    Can you please specify if there are any changes now in SBS 2008 CAL Suite?

  • I remain confused about the differnce between a RDS CAL and the need for a VECD license.

    If I already own a RDS CAL for each device, is there ever a scenario where I would also need to invest in a VECD license?

  • We have run TS License Server on Windows 2008, we have install licenses to issue CAl for Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 TS, can we install licenses and issue RDS CAl for Windows 2008 R2 on this same server?

  • @Tran: YEs, you can install, manage and issue Windows Serevr 2008 R2 CALs on Windows Server 2008 license server. But before that you need to install the KB mentioned in post:


    Hope that helps!



  • @Silvia - can you clarify that I can run Windows Server 2008 R2 RDS CALs on a Windows Server 2008 STD Licensing Server as the supplier incorrectly shipped the Win Srv 2008 Std instead of Win Srv 2008 R2?

  • @Alex: Yes you can install Win2k8 R2 CALs on Win2k8 license server. Please install the KB mentioned in the post: blogs.msdn.com/.../windows-server-2008-r2-rds-and-windows-server-2008-ts-cal-compatibility.aspx



  • Hi.

    We have about 50 2003 TS servers using Citrix and they all point to 2003 TS Licensing server.  We're now introducing 2 2008 TS servers and we're at the point where we need to upgrade our existing 2003 TS Cals.  I have following questions/steps:

    1. I get new 2008 R2 VM to host licensing server.

    2. I upgrade my 2003 TS Cals to 2008 R2 RDS Cals.  (I undersand that 2008 R2 TS Cals are no longer available).

    3. I deactivate my existing 2003 TS Licensing Server.

    4. I point all my 50 2003 TS servers and 2 2008 TS servers to the new licensing server.

    5. All clients (W2K, XP, Vista, Windows 7) should be able to connect with no issues.

    Are these steps correct?

    Thank you.

  • @Vitaly: Yes you are correct Vitaly. Just make sure that you DON'T have 'Prevent Upgrade group Policy' set else your clients connecting to Win2k3 TS will not be able to connect.



  • Silvia,

    Thank you for quick reply.  I just wanted to ask you, if I push the new License Server using GP and my existing configuration uses "As Configured", does the GP setting override the "As Configured".  So, in the registry there will be two license servers under different keys:

    1. "As configured"

    2. Using GP.

    The one from GP takes precedence and invalidates the "As Configured" one.

    Thank you.

  • Vitaly, GP settings always override locally configured settings, no matter what the setting is. See the following for an explanation of Group Policy precedence.




  • Hi,

    I have, 1 x win2003 R2 LS;  10 x win2003 R2 TS;  150 x win2003 TS CAL.

    i am currently looking at expanding my TS CALs to cater for our training environment.

    i dont have budget to procure win2008 yet.

    can i buy 2008 RDS CAL with downgrade rights and install them on my 2003 R2 LS to cater for my training environment??


  • We have 2008 R2 Standard Server.  We are accessing this server with RDP through Internet only and not by LAN. Is it necessary to buy WIN CAL If we have RDS CAL?

  • Hello i do have a question what if the customer has installed Windorws server  2008 R1 and now he would like to buy TS CALS, we can quote then RDS R2 CALS; will this products be compatible ?

  • Client Access Licenses continue to be the biggest ripoff of all time.

  • @Silvia Doomra [MSFT] 15 Sep 2009 12:52 PM

    We have a 2008 R2 Licensing server, with 2008 R2 per-user RDS-CALs installed.

    We are trying to use this to license a 2003 Teminal Server, set up as licensed per-user.

    Should this work?

    On the 2003 Terminal Server we open Terminal Server Licensing, and connect to the 2008 R2 Licensing server. The licensing server shows as active, but does not display any TS/RDS-CALs. When we exit the 'Terminal Server Licensing' dialog and then open it again the 2008 R2 licensing server is no longer displayed. We are unable to RDP to the 2003 Terminal Server.

    The 'License Server Security Group Policy' is not set on the license server.

    Can you shed any light on this please?


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