We have two VMs running Server 2016. On one of them I can log in with my username via RDP. On the other one, when I try to log in with my username via RDP, I get the following error:

"The remote session was disconnected because there are no Remote Desktop License Servers available to provide a license. Please contact the server adminstrator."

The funny thing is, on both servers, neither the Remote Desktop Services nor the Remote Desktop Licensing roles or features appear to be configured or installed. The machine where RDP works has been runnning for 3+ years so I'm pretty sure it's not working due to "grace period". However, the Remote Desktop system service is running on both machines.

In gpedit, all settings related to RDP licensing are "not configured" on BOTH machines.

I also ran gpresult and there is nothing in the report at all about RDP licensing.

My understanding is that for a user to connect via RDP, you either have to be running in the "grace period" or have RDP licenses available. The fact that neither the role nor the license configuration appears to be present on either machine (including the working one!) is baffling.

Can this be configured somehwere else? What am I missing?


You can always log in via RDP to a Windows Server 2016 machine in order to manage it; there is a hard limit of two concurrent connections and no grace period.

However, when the Remote Desktop Session Host role is installed, it needs a license server because the server is actually running as a RDS host, thus RDP is supposed to be used by actual clients instead of remote administrators; if a valid license server can't be found, or if it doesn't have enough licenses, the server will accept RDP connections for a while (the "grace period") and then stop allowing them.

But again, for this to be the case, the Remote Desktop Session Host role must be installed; if it's not installed, there is no way or reason for the server to require RDS licenses.

You should of course always be able to login to the physical (in this case, virtual) console; also, you can try running the RDP client with the command mstsc.exe /admin, which should force it to explicitly tell the server it wants to perform remote administration (which, as said above, is always allowed regardless of RDS licensing).

  • Yes, in this case, Remote Desktop Session Host role is not installed on either machine. I am able to log into the console via the VM host, so it's not a matter of me not being able to get into the machine. What I'd like to know is why one machine is throwing a license error while the other machine (configured identically, AFAICT), is not. – Kevin H. Patterson Jun 30 '20 at 15:18
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    If RDSH is not installed, this just doesn't make sense. Really. – Massimo Jun 30 '20 at 15:19
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    GAH!!! I just went back and checked roles and it looks like RDSH is installed on the non-working machine. I swear I checked this several times before even posting the original question. Either someone else is messing with this machine or I am losing it. Anyway, I removed the RDSH role, rebooted, and things are now working again. Thanks! – Kevin H. Patterson Jun 30 '20 at 15:41

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