I have a dedicated Windows Server 2016 server hosted by a company. Right now, we use Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to allow up to two simultaneous users the ability to log onto the server remotely.

We now need to allow a few more users onto the server simultaneously. I understand that we need to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and buy a CAL for each potential user. The hosting company says that they can set this up and that we'll pay a monthly fee per CAL to them.

My question: if we go this route, can we still use RDC for two users, and RDS for the others? That is, if we need to allow up to 5 simultaneous users, do we need to buy 5 CALs or can we buy 3 CALs and then have two additional users access the site via RDC?

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    No you cannot. The two "built in" connections are exclusively for the administration of the server. All other connections to the server for users who will run application, workloads, etc. must have an RDS CAL. If you have 5 users who will be running applications, workloads, etc. then you need 5 RDS CAL's. – joeqwerty Oct 1 '18 at 20:03
  • @joeqwerty hi! typed at the same time as you, sorry if you want to answer I will remove mine :) – yagmoth555 Oct 1 '18 at 20:14
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    Hello! I'll leave my comment so you can have the answer. :) – joeqwerty Oct 1 '18 at 20:22

The 2 users you have access too are for administering the server only.

If your goal is a true rds server, then you need CAL for each users. (5)

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  • So it is possible then, yes? My question is, can RDC and RDS be used at the same time. Moreso a question on the possibility rather than the legality. In short, would I need to get a CAL for an administrator account on RDS? Sounds like no, that I can still use RDC. – Scott Mitchell Oct 2 '18 at 0:12
  • @ScottMitchell You can’t log more than 2 admins user at the same time, so your question is can installing the RD service can bypass that ? Yes, but that service need a RD licensing host too, with CAL in it, the CAL get enforced that way by MS – yagmoth555 Oct 2 '18 at 0:59
  • Sorry if I'm being dense, but I'm still a little confused - can I try one more time? Ok, so say that I have three "regular" users who are NOT administrators. But I need to login as an Admin every now and then. My question is, can I buy three CALS for RDS for those three regular users and continue to logon via RDC when I need to do Admin stuff? Or do I need four CALS, one for the three "normal" users and one for the Admin? – Scott Mitchell Oct 2 '18 at 18:39
  • @ScottMitchell No problem there, yes for that scenario you need only 3 CAL, as MS give you the right to use those 2 admin licences to do admin tasks, outside of your pool of CALS, that on any server with remote desktop enabled – yagmoth555 Oct 2 '18 at 19:19
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    Ok, thank you for taking the time to work through these questions with me. I've gone ahead and marked this as the answer. – Scott Mitchell Oct 5 '18 at 22:14

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