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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I'm looking to get a Windows Server 2003 box in the middle of my linux network. :(

I'm just concerned about CAL licensing for it.

No devices will access any network server function of Windows Server 2003. I don't need Windows for DHCP or DNS or file and print sharing. I have linux boxes to do that! xD

I just need a box running Windows (of some variety) to host those few apps that have to run on Windows like my AV management console.

In short do I need any CALs for my server if its not acting as server itself.

I think Windows Server 2003 comes with 5 CALs which can be per user for the admins to use RDP?



marked as duplicate by Rob Moir, Iain Jan 27 '12 at 16:48

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


IMHO no CAL needed as no box client is connecting to the windows provided functions. Third party applications in general do not count. Admins do not count into the CAL, too, if used for admin purposes. RDP is limited to 3 concurrent connections (+1 for the console = three users - the console login can also be accessed using RDP).

I would argue in this case the "Admin" is not an admin but a user (when using third party tools), so CAL's are needed - but then you buy a server +5 CAL anyway.


The only definite source for this kind of questions is MS itself, but as far as I understand this whole licensing mess, you are right.


The windows license model is straighforward. It's always server+cal. If you buy a retail copy of windows it should be a server + 5 cals bundle. It is possible to buy just a copy of window server without cals. The reason is that those 5 cals are good for as many windows servers as you want for the users licensed (user cals) or you can use them as device cals (any number of users on specific workstations.)

Here's where folks get into trouble. Cals are version specific. A windows 2003 CAL does not allow you to access a server 2008 device even if the server has SA. Your CALS must also have SA (or you need to purchase new ones)

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