Possible Duplicate:
Can you help me with my software licensing question?

As I understand it, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, My OEM copies of Server 2003 or Server 2008 are supplied with 5 CALS.

Additionally, a User CAL means that the named user can connect to any server I may have.

Does this mean that if I buy two copies of Server 2003 I in effect am fully licensed for 10 users to access both servers?

Much appreciated.

Edited for pedants.

marked as duplicate by Skyhawk, Mark Henderson Nov 14 '11 at 5:20

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.


Yes, though not all kinds of Windows Server licenses include CALs. But let's say these ones does and 5 per copy at that (I think that can vary as well?) - then it's pretty simple really (but always call your Microsoft Licensing Partner beforehand - they should be very helpful with any questions on this topic).

Edit: Added clarification from Jay Michaud about not all server licenses actually including CALs.

If you buy two Server licenses which both explicitly includes 5 CALs, you've then got 10 CALs. So far so good.

You now have to decide which licensing scheme to use, there are several:

  • Server-side
    • Per seat or per server
  • Seat-side (if you chose per seat)
    • Per device or per user

A seat is a device or a user - meaning that each user OR client pc needs to have one CAL each. With this CAL, they can connect to any number of servers in the domain. The actual Access License resides with the user or the client pc when in "per seat" mode - giving them licensed access to anything in the domain. This license follows the user/device around but is unique to that user/device and a tad complicated to reallocate.

A per server license is defined for a single server, which then serves a number of concurrent connections instead. As you'll need one CAL per server AND connection - this mode is rarely used because it will require rather specific circumstances to be cheaper (requiring less CALs overall).

You are also always allowed to have up to 2 administrators accessing a server without any CALs at all - as long as those users/devices/connections are only for administration and not actual user scenarios.

There are rules on how you can mix and change the licensing schemes which are rather restrictive at times but not something I'd dive into here without an expert - but just so you know ^^

  • 1
    Take note of the following condition in this answer: "If you buy two Server licenses which both includes 5 CALs..." (sic). This refers to a purchase of full package products (FPP) that specifically state the number of user or device CALs that are included. If you purchase under a volume licensing program, this answer is incorrect. The question did not specify FPP or volume licensing. – Jay Michaud May 18 '09 at 17:54
  • Very true, the question is not correct in stating "every copy of xxx Server includes yyy CALs" - the answer is only valid for those copies that actually includes the CALs - which is far from all different types available. I will try and clarify. – Oskar Duveborn May 18 '09 at 19:48
  • You get NO CALs with a server if you buy through any volume licensing channel (open, select, select+, enterprise, etc). You get 5 with Standard and 25 with Enterprise if you buy through FPP or OEM channels. Your license lets you do one of three things: 1. Grant one user access to unlimited servers 2. Grant one device access to unlimited servers 3. Grant one server one concurrent access license. – Richard Gadsden Jul 13 '09 at 15:42

No. If you buy a full packaged product (FPP) of Windows Server (that is, an off-the-shelf box version), it may include some number of user or device CALs (probably 5, 10, or 25). If, however, you purchase Windows Server under a volume licensing program, no CALs are included.

  • Thanks for the clarification. These are FPP so don't need to worry about Volume Licensing. – Martin May 18 '09 at 16:42

I think the image below on Microsoft's Windows Server Licensing page should explain it:

enter image description here

You basically have to options when you're licensing your server: "per server" and "per user/device". Running your site in "per user/device", you should be allowed to access all servers.

Per User or Per Device Mode:

A separate Windows CAL (of either type) is required for each user or device that accesses or uses the server software on any of your servers.

[...] If you choose this licensing mode, your choice is permanent. You can, however, reassign a Windows CAL from one device to another device or from one user to another user, provided the reassignment is made either (a) permanently away from the one device or user or (b) temporarily to accommodate the use of the Windows CAL either by a loaner device, while a permanent device is out of service, or by a temporary worker, while a regular employee is absent.

Disclaimer: To be sure, I would contact Microsoft Sales or your software dealer.

  • That's exactly the diagram that prompted my question :) – Martin May 18 '09 at 11:30

Thanks to all for the help. As suggested I contacted Microsoft Licensing and they confirmed the following:

Thank you for contacting us about Microsoft® Windows Server® 2003.

Yes that is correct if you had 2 Windows Server 2003 and 10 Windows Server 2003 User CALs. Then all 10 users will be able to access both the Windows Server 2003.

It doesn’t matter if you obtained the CALs separately (i.e. 5 CALs each) for both the servers.

I've accepted Oskar Duvenborns answer because it most closely matches the Microsoft response - but thanks to everyone else who answered - it was most helpful.

  • This response from Microsoft Licensing does not answer the question that you posed here. All this says is that regardless of the combination in which you purchased your server licenses and CALs, ten user CALs allows ten users to access any number of Windows Server installations. – Jay Michaud May 18 '09 at 16:06
  • That was exactly my question. And it answers it perfectly. not sure what other question you think I was asking. If you expand I'll be happy to edit the original question to clarify. – Martin May 18 '09 at 16:44
  • Based on your comments, I'm guessing that you meant something like: "When purchasing Windows Server 2003 or 2008 licenses as full package products (FPP) with five bundled user CALs each, does each user CAL allow one user to connect to any number of Windows Server installations?" If that was the question, then the answer is dependent on the licensing mode ("per-server" or "per-user or per-device"). Since you didn't specify FPP in the question, I had to consider volume licensing, which doesn't include any CALs, in my answer. – Jay Michaud May 18 '09 at 18:26
  • I forgot to even include OEM licensing, and I am not sure if it includes any CALs. – Jay Michaud May 18 '09 at 18:26
  • I guess you can buy a server bundled with an OEM Windows Server which most likely would have some CALs included for good measure / to fit the target buyers (ie non volume-licensed)? But then again, both kinds most likely exists even in the OEM market... – Oskar Duveborn May 18 '09 at 20:42

Well, this is a very sticky subject, as sometimes Microsoft does not even know their licensing! A CAL is either per device or per user, so I would assume the same as yourself for a single server: 5 CAL's == 4 simultaneous users || 4 simultaneous devices (reserve 1 CAL for an administrator to login to the console)

Now with 2 servers, that is still only 4 users per server, not 8 per server like your question suggests (minus the 2 administrator CAL's)

Only Microsoft Licensing would be able to fully answer your question.

Update: QuarkIT.com.au tries to explain this in simple terms

  • According to this: microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/howtobuy/licensing/… a single user/device cal allows access to multiple servers. Hence my assumption that 5+5 = 10 – Martin May 18 '09 at 11:24
  • Only Microsoft would be able to fully answer your question. Send them a quick email, I am sure they will be happy to answer this question! – Wayne May 18 '09 at 11:47
  • Don't need a CAL for administrative access as far as I know. – Oskar Duveborn May 18 '09 at 13:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.