Client Access Licenses (CALs) in Windows Server 2012
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Client Access Licenses (CALs) in Windows Server 2012

In this video from ITFreeTraining I will be
looking at client access licenses for Windows Server 2012, otherwise known as Cals. This
video will go through the 3 different Cals available in Windows Server 2012 and which
ones you will need to purchase to meet the needs of your organization.
Before I go into the different types of Cals, I will first look at what is a Cal? A Cal
is a Client Access License required by a user or device to access Windows Server. For example,
if you had a user that was accessing a file share or usinf printing services on a Windows
Server, this user would require a Cal in order to access that server.
This does not include unauthenticated internet access. For example, if you had a web site
running on a server and a user was accessing pages on that web site anonymously, then a
Cal would not be required. It should be pointed out, that if you are using a non-Microsoft system
to authenticate users before they access the web site, you would need to purchase a Cal for each
user or device that is accessing the web site Depending on how you are accessing Windows
Server 2012 there are 3 different types of Cals available. These are User, Device and
Remote Desktop Services Cals. If you are accessing the file server for general use, for example
for file and printing like services, you need to use a user or device Cal. In a moment we
will see the difference between the two. The Remote Desktop Services Cal is only used
if you are planning to access the Windows Server using remote desktop services. In a
moment I will cover how Remote Desktop Service Cal it is different from the user or device
Cal license, but first I will have a closer look at the user cal.
A user Cal follows the user and thus they can use it to login into any computer on the
network and then access any Windows Server that they wish. In this example, a single
user has a desktop and a device in which they use to access two different servers. Since
the same user is accessing both devices, only one Cal is required.
A user Cal is normally used when a single user is using multiple devices. If I add another
2 devices and another user, notice the first user can use the desktop as well as the new
user. This means for this network, 2 User CAL licenses are required. User Cals are a
good choice when you have more devices than users, but in some cases this may not be the
case. For example if you have more users than devices. When this occurs, you will want to
look at device Cals In this example, there are multiple users
that are using the same computer or device to access Windows file servers. In this case,
if you were to purchase User Cals you would need 6 users Cals. If you instead use device
Cals, only 3 device Cals would be required. You can see that in this case it is cheaper
to use device Cals rather than user Cals. The last type of Cal is Remote Desktop Services
Cal. This Cal is also referred to an additive Cal since it adds features. If you use other
software from Microsoft like SQL Server and Exchange, you will need to purchase Cals for
that software in order to use it features. Remote Desktop Service Cals are different
from user and device Cals in that they need to be activated before they can be used. Although
user and device Cals are required to access Windows Servers, the Cals themselves do not
need to be activated and the use of them is not enforced. It is up to the administrator
to make sure they have the required user and device Cals and thus are compliant.
Remote Desktop Services Cal�s come in 3 different types. These are, User, Device and
External Connector. The device Cal allows a single device to connect to remote desktop
services by any user. A User Cal permits one user using any device to connect up to Remote
Desktop services. The external connector is used to access a single remote desktop server
by multiple external users. It is used when your company wants to allow a 3rd party, for
example an external contractor that works with your company, to connect to remote desktop
services. The last point I want to cover in this video
is that new Cals can be used with older operating systems. For this reason you should always
buy the latest OS CALs if you have the choice. For example, if you do not have a single Windows
Server 2012 server on your network, there is no reason that you cannot purchase Windows
Server 2012 CALs. These will work fine with any edition of Windows Server 2008 or previous
operating system. However, if you were to purchase Windows Server 2008 CALs, these would
need to upgraded to Windows Server 2012 CALs before your clients could start using Windows
Server 2012 on your network. This covers the basics of how Cals work in
Windows. An important topic to understand to make sure that your network is compliant.
If you have enjoyed this video, please feel free to subscribe. All our videos are free
and available on YouTube. Thanks for watching and I hope to see you
again in the next video.


  • itfreetraining

    If the web server is not performing authentication then no Cal's are required. If you are authenticating on the web server or to another system using the web server, for example the users of the web site have active directory accounts, then the web server requires Cal's. It all depends what the Web server is doing.

  • Joel Laguna

    By now Microsoft should have the ability to just download the software from safe servers and handle ALL licencing from one spot. Oh wait, this is Microsoft we are talking about. It will take them 2-4 years to make it happen.

  • Termiborger

    So, just to get this straight. If, I am using a single server, that is serving around 8 or so users remotely, then all I need is a single external RPD CAL?

  • Abdulaziz Esawi

    Hi, I have a question. For active directory user, does each domain user need to have a CAL. Example, 200 domain users need 200 CALs?

  • TechAwayITSolutions

    Straight forward explanation that covers all the bases for licensing. Will use this in training our guys to understand MS licensing.Thanks.

  • Mark

    so i know that server 2012 essentials it supports 25 user and i don't need CALs but what if i get server standard and connect it to that domain (same as the essentials box) as say a file server do i then need to buy CALs for people contacting to that standard edition ?

  • Amos Nota

    @ 4:07 you said: "The CALS themselves do not need to be activated and the use of them is not enforced." Does that mean purchasing of CALS is only for compliance nothing like installing them? 

  • Snowdaawg

    Regarding RDS CALS, I'm still not sure I get the difference between the "User" and "Device" CAL.  I have 5 administrators that need to access 3 2008 Domain and File servers.  At least 3 admins need to be on multiple servers at the same time.  Would the User CAL permit one administrator to be on multiple servers at the same time and only use one CAL? or do I need a "Device CAL"?  I am planning on purchasing 5 User CALS.  Is this correct?  Thanks for the help!!

  • M E

    Damn, almost everything requires a CAL. how about authenticating through web (Internally) to print to the printing server. would that require a CAL? 

  • Kaja Mohideen

    Hi ,
            What is the required Licences to Setup Windows 2012 Standard Server Domain Controller.Is there License required to add client system into domain?.also provide some links for example.

    Thank you- Kaja

  • martyg23

    I have some questions and I would really like your input.  I am a college student and I have access to Microsoft Dreamspark where I can download any version of Windows Server.  Basically I want to learn as much as possible about WS and every environment it offers so I am leaning towards WS 2012 Datacenter as it seems to offer the most options.  I have three computers at home and basically I want to create my own little learning center.  Do I need to purchase CALs if I'm the only one that's going to be using this environment?  What if I want to add users later?  Also, would you suggest a virtual environment in my case or would it be okay to setup a physical operating system environment since I have multiple computers?  Do you have any suggestions on how to create a good learning center?  I appreciate any input your have!  I really want to learn but there's so much documentation out there it's a little overwhelming.

  • Nasser Alzubay

    please help me
     i have windows server 2012 r2 and i need to access to the server from anthor 8 branches how many i should  buy RDS Cal licenses ?

  • Benjamin Wexler

    I am preparing to migrate from WS 03 to WS 12 and am trying to understand CALs.
    I need a license for every computer/laptop that accesses the file server? I also need a CAL for every MF printer, but not a single function printer? When do RDS CLAs have to be factored in ?

  • Antonio Delgadillo

    +itfreetraining Nice video, but if I already purchased a number of User Cals, lets say 100, for my Active Directory domain and I am implementing a new windows file server, Do I have to purchase more user cals for my file server, even if the 100 users are the same that are going to use the file server only in a separate server?

  • Siyamand Rashid

    im a bit confused…what you mean by client accessing servers?- if a client want to print from network printer, or access a folder, files on server it needs CAls ?!!-or you mea accessing server by client , to work on active directory on other roles and features…. ??many thanks for your all great videos …

  • Alex Putyatinsky

    HI. Thx for all of youre videos. I have a question about virtual instabnses on MS server. License MS standart give me a right to use 2 instances, this only work whith hyper – v or this put limits on server if i use therd part virtualization like VMware two?

  • Tor Bruheim

    Device CALS makes sense if your company has workers who share devices, for example, on different work shifts, yes I understand that, anyway I have a question for you Sir: "Would it make sense sometimes combine User CALs and Device CALs"?

  • Literal Buddha

    Is one Windows server setup possible in both the modes per user and per device at the same time? Only if this is technically possible, it grants mix and match of user and device cals on the SAME server.

  • Xtreme

    i am planning to buy exchange server 2012 r2, and install exchange 2013. do I need to buy CALs? assuming we don't need CALs for exchange.

  • Keshav Mukati

    A question regarding TS CAL purchase, the process is to activate your TS by web or Phone call and then you have call Microsoft and share the enrollment no, i curious to know how they get to know how much CAL a company has purchased because many time by mistake i got more CAL activated then actual purchase ?

  • miles2590

    Hi Sir, Good day, I have questions and clarification. We are planning to purchase a Device CALs and a Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail.
    1. Does the workers in the office need a CAL to access the System?
    2. Does the device used in the Retail POS also needs a CAL?
    3. How about the SQL CAL. Is it necessary?
    4. Does CALs need to be installed or just a document?
    5. Is it ok to use RDS without RDS CALs and just use the 2 maximum allowable access via RDP (local and remote location)?
    6. What is the recommended RDS CALs to be purchase if many worker will be using the RDS remotely?

    Thank you very much!

  • Jason corr

    Hi there, I have a (MeRu Networks Model: MC1500) it has a sticker on the front thats states (Controller for Wireless Network)
    I would like to check how many user Licences its got on it, do you know how I would be able to check that ?


  • Sharaf K

    I would really appreciate if you could help me out in this scenario .

    I have windows server 2012 with 400 AD users created in it .Some of them are disabled and some are idle(not used by anyone) .Currently 250 users with their systems joined to the local domain are active but out of which only 100 users are using file share from the server .rest of the 150 users's computers are joined to the domain but do not use any services from the server like fileshare/printserver ,they just authenticate to AD that's it .

    So i believe i do not need to purchase 400 or 250 CALS .Does buying 150 users/device CALS serve my purpose ? or do i need to buy 400 or 250 CALS instead ?

    really appreciate your input . I'm totally confused.

  • freak777power

    This licensing is such bullshit by Microsoft, just avoid their products. Here is it comes down to. If you have Web Server and you have 100 users accessing web site, do not use forms authentication but custom SQL Authentication assuming back end of your web site is database. In that case all you have to purchase is only one cal. What i meant by custom sql authentication is authenticating user against login id and password stored in custom table which is part of your database you wrote for app.

  • PhoolSingh SARAN

    hello Sir
    this software "WinRmtDsktpSrvcsCAL 2016 SNGL OLP C UsrCAL"

    is software ko client end pr minstall krna hota hai ya Phir server pr
    pleasse urgent

  • Mike Murphy

    Suppose I have 4 different servers running various services; 1) Domain controller, 2) Print server, 3)File server 4) WDS Server
    Do I need 4 device CALS for each device or 1 Device CAL for each device?

  • Mark Hunter

    Can some one help me I have been given a dell server with I will be installing and activating windows 2012 I would like to set up 2 thin clients and a printer what calls would I need maximum of 3 users

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