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*except buying in CAL licenses for Windows Server 200x.

I'd like this software to run on a windows desktop box. There would only be ~4 connections max at any one time to use a single app like excel so performance shouldn't be much of a worry.

basically I'd like each remote session to be unaware there is another user on the system i.e. independent sessions which is how I understand multiple user win server remote desktop works.

Is there an alternative out there?

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closed as off-topic by Ward, masegaloeh, kasperd, 84104, Hyppy Apr 19 '15 at 17:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This has nothing to do with VPN. – Stephane Nov 3 '11 at 13:12
VPN-type software. AS IN SECURE REMOTE CONNECTION?! god. nothing to do with VPN... – rutherford Nov 3 '11 at 15:59
I believe @Stephane is referring to the style of VPN that emulates a full network stack on a remote network, rather than a single secured application. Both can allow secure remote access, and can be called "VPN" by a wide variety of users, but VPN in the sense Stephane is talking about is not what is being discussed here. – sysadmin1138 Nov 3 '11 at 16:08
@sysadmin1138 The N in VPN is for Network; there's no secured network connection here, it's an application layer security he's after. I have to agree with Stephane, mentioning something like SSL (et al) would make much more sense, or simply stating "secured" even more so. Using the wrong terminology shows ignorance or lack of effort on the Questioner's part; that perception has been exacerbated by his uncouth responses. He's shown himself to be the type we shouldn't welcome in the community. – Chris S Nov 3 '11 at 17:38
SSL is predominantly for web based applications so someone who needs to get out more could flame for that too. Fact is the need for you to speculate on what another 'contributor' may or may not have meant shows clear ambiguousness in his response. But hey, if you get your rocks off at chastising randoms then I'd suggest you go elsewhere. – rutherford Nov 4 '11 at 14:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you want dumb terminals connecting to multiple sessions on a single host the only way to do it free and legally is with Linux.

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There are quite a few other free OSes besides Linux distros... – Chris S Nov 3 '11 at 17:30
OK, Unix-based OSes, generally, the many flavours of Linux out there being the most abundant and well supported. – Alex Berry Nov 12 '11 at 18:00
No Unix-based OSes are free (AIX, HP-UX, SunOS, Xenix, etc); SCO still owns the rights to Unix and doesn't allow free distribution of any kind. Linux was 'inspired' by Minix, which wasn't even Posix compatible until 1997. Linux might have the greatest quantity, certainly not the greatest quality. – Chris S Nov 13 '11 at 1:18

Windows has very explicit licensing requirements. I doesn't matter if it's a whole desktop or a single application (remote session application presentation). The peopling connecting must be licensed. There are administrative exceptions that allow certain use scenarios where you don't need to purchase licenses, but that's not what you're asking about. If you're asking how these licensing requirements can be skirted, this Q will be closed as OT (we do not condone licensing violations and will not help you do so).

If you need a whole application running you can use something else entirely like Citrix. But that's generally just as expensive as Windows Terminal Services and CALs.

If you just need to share an Excel-type spreadsheet (and/or other office documents) a hosted app like Google Docs would be much cheaper and provide almost all the same functionality (per common use).

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"If you need a whole application running you can use something else entirely like Citrix. But that's generally just as expensive as Windows Terminal Services and CALs." So are there legal alternatives to the method I outlined or not? Why has this been voted down before you even hear me out? Jeez. – rutherford Nov 3 '11 at 12:50
I didn't downvote, but it's most likely because what you're asking for is usually asked by people trying to break their licenses. The only legal way to share Windows sessions (running on actual MS Windows) is by having Terminal Services CALs. Citrix looks like Windows but for the sake of licensing is not. Another note, if you're sharing Excel via Terminal Services you need Excel CALs for every TS CAL (so 4 TS CALs would require 5 Excel/Office CALs). But this is getting deep into licensing and you'd need to talk in detail about your environment to get accurate licensing advice from MS. – Chris S Nov 3 '11 at 13:11
If I'm not being too presumptuous, you probably have a small network and a server. You're thinking you can pop an application or two on the server and "share" it out to the other computers, with something similar to Remote Desktop Connections. And something simple like that seems like it should be cheap. The issue is that you're looking for the best of all worlds, full desktops, flexible server, connection/location abstraction and flexibility; all that capability and flexibility costs a lot (and there's no cheap way to get around that). – Chris S Nov 3 '11 at 13:15

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