Remote Desktop Licensing in Windows Server 2008 R2

This blog article will guide you through the steps of setting up Remote Desktop Licensing or Terminal Services Licensing as it’s known in previous versions of Windows Server.

You’ve decided to move from Windows 2003 R2 to 2008 R2 domain controllers and you want to run your terminal services licensing on the new domain controllers. You can run the licensing for all your terminal servers operating with Windows 2000 Server and newer Windows Server versions on Windows Server 2008 R2.

On the domain controllers where you want to install the Terminal Services Licensing component, open Server Manager and select “Add Roles”. Then select the “Remote Desktop Services” role and click next (twice):
Don’t worry, this will not turn your domain controller into a terminal server.

Select “Remote Desktop Licensing” and click next:

I recommend taking a look at this TechNet article before choosing one of these options. Select the appropriate option for your environment, click next, and then click install:

Open RD Licensing Manager. Right click the licensing server and select “Activate Server”:

There will be a couple of screens to enter information on that is specific to your organization. Enter this information and click next on each screen. Once you’ve completed the activation process, click next and the license installation wizard will begin. If you have not purchased licenses yet, uncheck this checkmark and click finish.

Select the type of licenses you purchased from the drop down and click next:

There will be a couple of screens to enter information on that is specific to the licensing you purchased. Enter this information and click next on each screen. The final screen will show that the licenses have been successfully installed:

You can now see the licenses from within RD License Manager. This server has licenses for Windows 2000 and Windows 2008 Terminal Servers as shown below.

If you have existing licenses for Windows 2003 terminal servers, you would just install them using the same process and then they will show up in RD License Manager:

If a yellow warning sign is shown next to the server name, the remote desktop licensing service will need to be restarted before the server will start issuing licenses:

To restart the service, open an administrative command prompt and run:

On the actual terminal server, make sure the license mode is set to the type of licenses you have installed on the licensing server. It is preferable to set this option with a GPO.



  1. Philbert

    I have a question: we currently have a server 2003 D that hosts the ts licensing, we are replacing it with a 2008 R2 with the exact same name. How do I transfer the licenses from the 2003 server? Can I do as above or am I going to have to call the Clearing House?

    • Mike F Robbins

      Not sure if there is a way to transfer the licenses from one server to another, but if they have the same name, it’s probably not going to work. I’ve always just re-entered my licenses manually into the new server and have been able to activate them online without needing to call the clearing house.

  2. David

    Call the Microsoft ClearingHouse. I just did it last week. A pin in the butt due to the long codes you need to provide, but it works.

  3. Jose

    I have a Windows 2003 rdp server , I am installing a windows 2008 r2 could I point it to use the licenses from the 2003 rdp license server ?

  4. Chamil

    Thank you very much for the great article included with the pictures!

    Keep up the good work!


  5. Atish Rajiah

    I have a 2003 TS and planning to migrate to 2008R2 RDS. Aleady activated the 2008R2 RDS licensing server but licenses are not being issued by the 2008 server. Can I have both TS and RDS in the same domain ? If yes, does it mean that the total number of CALs would be TS + RDS ?

    Thanks to help

  6. Matt

    We have a new instance of 2008 R2. Installed CALs for RDS and activated the server online . When you launch the RD Licensing Manager from Administrative Tools – Remote Desktop Services everything looks good and activated licenses are showing correctly. On the other hand, we keep on getting the warning that the server is running on the grace period. And the Licensing Diagnosis (RDS) under Server Management shows that 0 RDS licenses are available and that the RDS Host server is not configured. We were told by Dell support that it’s safe to ignore those warning. Anyone has any suggestions?

  7. Rajan Merwade

    In RD-license manager issued tab that showing “0” what is indicate that.
    What is the meaning of “issued” ? in RD- licensing .

  8. samit

    HI i am facing a issue with remote desktop services which stopped working after every 10 to 20 min.I Am using TS lisencing inthe server which is 2003 server……………..plz help me to find out a fix for this …thanks

    samit baidya

  9. Endang Irawan

    Hi Mike,
    How to add the total license in RD License Manager, because the license is already in used (empty)

  10. Victor Sturm

    We are replacing an remote desktop services 2003 server with a new 2012 R2 remote desktop. I have been looking online for a way to add the 2012 R2 CALs to our 2008 License Manager server, but I’m having no luck. I don’t know at this point if Server 2008 R2 will support CALs for 2012 R2. Any suggestions or ideas would be of great help


  11. munish sharma

    i have 2008 server the problem is their is a error of licensing that shows 77 day to expire this license so sir please help me solve this problem i want to make license for permanent .

  12. Jorge

    How to officially deactivate a Windows 2012 RDS licensing server and remove RDS CALs

  13. sreejish kurup

    i am purchase windows server 2008 r2 license, include client access license, but not activate the client access license ,
    please help me. purchase from 1 year ago..

    how to activate client access license.


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