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Windows Server RDS Licensing: Key Considerations and Costs

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Windows Server is an invaluable tool for businesses that require remote access to their applications and data. However, licensing can be a complex terrain to navigate. In this guide, we’ll break down the essentials of licensing Windows Server for RDS, including key considerations and costs.

Table of Contents:

Understanding RDS Licensing Models

There are two primary licensing models for RDS:

1. Per Device:

With this model, a client device requires a separate RDS Device CAL (Client Access License) for each device that connects to the RDS server.

2. Per User:

Under this model, each user who accesses the RDS server must have an RDS User CAL.

Choosing the Right Licensing Model

Selecting the appropriate licensing model depends on your organization’s needs. If your users need to access RDS from multiple devices, the “Per User” model may be more cost-effective. On the other hand, if several users share the same device to access RDS, the “Per Device” model could be the better choice.

Understanding RDS Licensing Costs

The costs of RDS licensing can vary based on factors such as the licensing model, the edition of Windows Server, and the specific requirements of your organization. It’s essential to consult Microsoft’s official pricing guidelines to determine the exact costs.

Staying Compliant

Ensuring compliance with RDS licensing is crucial to avoid potential legal issues and penalties. Keep a detailed record of the number of CALs your organization requires, and make sure they match your actual usage.

Remember that this guide is meant as a starting point, and it’s advisable to consult with a Microsoft licensing specialist or your IT department to make informed decisions regarding Windows Server RDS licensing.


In conclusion, licensing Windows Server for Remote Desktop Services is a vital step in maintaining a secure and compliant remote access environment. Understanding the licensing models and costs is essential to make the right choices for your organization. Stay compliant and ensure you have the necessary CALs to avoid any issues down the road.


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