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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  • @Silvia Doomra [MSFT]  In addition to the above info, one other thing to rule out...

    The Prevent Upgrade group Policy has NOT been set.



  • @Chris: If I understnad your scenario correctly then you are trying to connect to the 2k8R2 license server from 2k3 licensing manager. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    If I am correct then this is not a supported scenario. You shouldnt connect to higher version license server from lower licensing manager.

    Also, the next time you open the licensing manager, you are not getting the license server details as you need to connect it again.

  • we are using Windows 2003 Server R2 on the Server & we already have 50 Windows 2003 Device CAL licenses. We need to purchase additional CAL Licenses for the same.

    Windows 2003 CAL licenses are no longer available from the distributor.

    So Can I Procure RDS Licenses.

    Will it be possible to use these licenses on current W2003 OS?

    If not, whats the option? T

    Does it mean we need to format & install Windows Server 2008 on both Citrix servers. If yes, then it will involve server license cost also.  

    Expect your reply at earliest.Thanking you in advance

  • We have a 2003 server that has been used only for IIS but now we want to start having RDP clients attach to it to run applications.  Clients will be both thin-clients and full PC's.

    Question is what licenses are needed.  I have read about Windows Server CAL's and RDP CAL's

    Very confused.



  • Is there anyone monitoring this thread?  Sorry if my question above seems simple, but I'm confused just what CAL's are needed.


  • @Warren Kulik,

    You'll need a Windows Server CAL for every client that connects to the server.  This is like a "basic" requirement that you always need.

    You can think of the RDS CALs as an "upgrade" to the basic CAL which allows a client to use RDP on the server.

  • have a good day. i have window server 2008 R2 & i want to use RDS cal per device . what do i need to use it?

  • Hi

    I have 25 licence windows server device cal 2008, do I need to buy also windows remote desktop device cal for 2008 r2?

  • Hi, I am using server 2008 Std (not R2.). iwant to use TS for remote desktop. What licenses i have to purchase? RD CAL or TS CAL. can i install RD CAL instead of TS CAL in 2008 std edition?

  • Hopefully this thread is still monitored:  Does the MSDNAA license agreement include any RDS CALs?  In all my searching I can find nothing either way.

    Also what options do academic institutions have for RDS CALs for students... where you have a different set of students each term.  From what I have read if you have (lets say) 500 students per term you are required to purchase 500 user CALs per term as they are not transferable.  Note per device CALs will not work in this case as the students would be accessing the RD farm from multiple hosts.  Thanks in advance.

  • hello

    can we run windows 2008 terminal server cals on windows 2008 R2 Server 2008

    if yes then how

  • I have a client who just bought an IBM server with Windows 2008 Server with 5 Node License, now if they want to use a particular software in a Local LAN environment using the REMOTE Desktop Services for 15 such users over the same LAN, which License will he need to buy, the Win Rmt Dsktp Svcs User CAL or Device CAL?? kindly Suggest and guide.

  • @Vinay Thacker:

    The advantage of Per User CAL is that each user can connect from one or more devices using just one CAL per user. The advantage of Per Device CAL is that one or more users can connect from the same device using just one CAL per device. The two CALs also differ in price. Therefore, based on your client's current and/or forecasted needs you could come up with the maximizing function - MAX CALs for a given budget or MAX savings for a given number of CALs. BTW, you could have a mix of Per User and Per Device CALs in a RDS deployment.


    Sandeep Patnaik

    Program Manager, RDS Team, Microsoft

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