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Windows 7: Virtual Server - W2K8 / W2K3 Client licensing issues

02 May 2011   #1

W7 X-64 W8.1 X-64 Opensuse 13.1 W2003 Server
Virtual Server - W2K8 / W2K3 Client licensing issues

Hi all

I believe with W2K3 you can have up to 4 connections without having to obtain more Client licenses.

Is it the same for W2K8. Can't seem to find out much about this -- I'm thinking of upgrading to W2K8 soon but if you have to get licenses for EACH connection then that's going to cause me to look at an alternate server or just stick with W2K3.

Incidentally what are the licensing implications of running TWO IDENTICAL W2K3 (or W2K8) Virtual servers on ONE physical server box -- that way I could have clients 1-4 on virtual server A and clients 5-8 on Virtual server B.

My server box is running VMWARE's free ESXi v4 as host -- it can EASILY run 2 W2k3 or W2K8 Virtual servers that will only have max 4 users on them without battering an eyelid.

The Virtual server "Virtual hardware" is IDENTICAL so Windows won't request re-activation for the second server image.

MS doesn't seem to have a clue about licensiing Virtual servers in SMALL HOME network situations.

There's plenty of stuff for "Enterprise" / Corporate level work but almost nothing when you want a much smaller setup which goes a bit beyond the W2008/2011 Home server.

(With Windows - non server editions you can have as many identical VM's as you like -- I often use these as sandboxes for testing software etc. -- If its no good I just delete it and start a new one -- so long as the virtual hardware hasn't changed significantly you won't ever get asked for re-activation).


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02 May 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

With Windows Servers, you are required by Microsoft to have a license for the Windows Server itself, as well as each client needs a Windows Server Client Access License (CAL) to connect to the server.

As far as I know, per user CAL's in Windows have always been on the honor system and continue to be. Meaning that if you have 20 employees at work and all connect to the server, you are required to have 20 CAL's purchased. When you purchase additional user CAL's, there is nothing to install on the server. It's simply a record that you have purchased what was required and you can use that to provide evidence that you are in compliance.

CAL's are "per user" not per server. So, if you have 8 clients, you need 8 CAL's. If you have 2 servers, then you need 2 server licenses. If you have 10 servers, you need 10 server licenses....but you always continue to need 8 User CAL's.

MS doesn't consider Windows Server 2003/2008 to be intended for home use. And for 95% of people, they won't run it at home. So, that explains why you cannot find any information on them regarding this. Adding virtualization at home into the mix compounds things even further as that's not typical either. I would say of those running Windows Server 2003/2008 at home are either techie's using/borrowing their volume license from work, utilizing their MSDN license at home (which is fine) and technet users using it at home for personal evaluation purposes. I wouldn't try to explain to Microsoft why you might have 8 clients trying to use your Technet software....unless all 8 of your clients also have Technet subscriptions of their own.
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02 May 2011   #3

W7 X-64 W8.1 X-64 Opensuse 13.1 W2003 Server

Hi there

I'm using the MSDN version at home so its not pirated etc.

It says on the license (for W2K3) that up to 4 connections are allowed before you need to purchase additional CAL'S.

W2K3 allows 4 Users before we get into licensing issues -- I agree that actually there seems nothing in the software that actually counts the number of logged on users.

What IS a problem is that I can't find any info regarding licensing these servers as Virtual Machines -- I'm quite happy to abide by the EULA but its 100% unclear on this type of issue -- AFAIK there is nothing to stop me wthin the EULA of running 2 Virtual servers with up to 4 users each.

(It's for use at home -- couple of main computers --+ 3 or 4 kids machines --that's where I get up to 8 concurrent users from).

The Virtual W2K3 computers can also be connected to remotely via the Internet by using either Vsphere client or RDP - I prefer Vsphere client as you get the entire desktop backgrounds rather than the bland RDP interface. -You need decent security of course plus a decent fast Internet connection with good UPLOADS speed too -- not a problem in my area.

RDP shots also shown for comparison

Screenshots enc


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02 May 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Here is a document from Microsoft explaining that with Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition you are allowed 1 Running instance in a Virtual environment. With Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, you are allowed 4

Where in your license did you see that you could run with 4 client connections before additional CAL's were required? I have an MSDN subscription at work and I logged into the download area and am looking at my keys and their details, but I don't see anything about a connection count limit!

Edit: I should have been more clear above too. There is per server licensing, and per user licensing. I was discussing the per user when I went down the CAL route. From the per server connection, you may only get 4-5 licenses and additional connections would be stopped. Sorry, I forget about these things as every company I have worked for is per user licensed, so it's not an issue and servers don't stop accepting connections.
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03 May 2011   #5

W7 X-64 W8.1 X-64 Opensuse 13.1 W2003 Server

Hi there
Thanks for the reply -- as I'm using the Enterprise version it seems I'm OK to have up to 4 instances running as Virtual Servers on the Physical server box - since the physical server is running ESxi (a non MS O/S) and each Virtual server is allowed 4 connections before CALS are required.

That clears it up for me and makes it legal.

Do the same rules apply to W2K8 server -- I would imagine so although again its difficult to find this sort of info.

It's a pity MS isn't more "Small business" and home network friendly - Many homes these days have maybe as many as 5 or 6 computers so some sort of proper server / Windows licensing technique should be available -- like the Windows 7 Family pack when Windows 7 first hit the streets. This seems to have disappeared for now or might only be available in selected regions.

Having a proper and affordable licensing system in place for these types of environments would actually stop a lot of piracy etc etc.

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03 May 2011   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Considering that you have an MSDN license, I don't think you are necessarily bound to the normal licensing rules. I have an MSDN account myself and I use my MSDN software to build up labs and test scenarios all of the time. Rarely, do I even need to activate the software as my labs don't usually last more than 30 days. I do have a few vm's that do go for longer periods and I've activated them and have experienced no issues with multiple activations with an MSDN key. Even though I get multiple keys, I typically only retrieve one and continue to just re-use it.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
That clears it up for me and makes it legal.
As I understand it, with an MSDN license you are allowed to install the software on any number of machines for design, development, test, and demonstration of your programs. Each other person using the software would need an MSDN license as well. (My guess is that the remainder of your family members do NOT have MSDN licenses themselves).

The first paragraph of this web site confirms that I just stated; MSDN Subscriptions| MSDN Licensing - Software Use Rights, MSDN Licensing. How can I use the software included in my MSDN Subscription?

Of course, if you truly want to be compliant with licensing terms, you may find that using MSDN licenses on a home computer under typical use scenarios is not actually in compliance. Quoted from the link above;
Many MSDN subscribers use a computer for mixed use—both design, development, testing, and demonstration of your programs (the use allowed under the MSDN subscription license) and some other use. Using the software in any other way, such as for doing email, playing games, or editing a document is another use and is not covered by the MSDN subscription license. When this happens, the underlying operating system must also be licensed normally by purchasing a regular copy of Windows such as the one that came with a new OEM PC.

The above reason, is the reason that even though I have an MSDN license for my job, that I do NOT use my MSDN software on my actual home desktop or laptop computers. My home licenses are standard retail licenses of Windows and thus cost me $$. And this also explains why on older machines, like my wife's HP Laptop which runs VIsta...that I am not upgraded to Windows 7. I simply cannot justify the $100+ license to upgrade that to Windows 7.

BTW: What level of MSDN do you have?
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04 May 2011   #7

W7 X-64 W8.1 X-64 Opensuse 13.1 W2003 Server

H there

answer to your query

MSDN at Professional level.

I actually got the W2K3 server license and DVD when I was attending a course at MS on W2K3 server -- attendees were given a FREE Enterprise W2K3 server DVD to be able to use and practice at home at home etc --- so that's OK too.

The only restriction was that the server was ONLY to be used at home for NON COMMERCIAL purposes - for instance you couldn't set up a Commercial Web server on it or an E-Commerce application and start trading - although you COULD use the web yourself for normal "business" such as travel purchase, stock market trading etc etc.

Even if I had to pay retail it would still be worth it at around 1400 USD for the software since this saves me a number of boxes and with the number of computers etc in the house it's a good email and Internet gateway too.

Also it really saves problems of people screwing up Office / Photoshop or other of these sorts of apps on their own machines when they can run them centrally from the server or re-install the client application on their own laptop etc via the server.

Until I installed the W2K3 server I was really fed up with the number of times I re-installed / repaired EXCEL / Word etc.

Also backing up client PC's and data is fine too.

I've also got the MSDN copy as well -- if it is a problem I can switch the images around but I can't see this as being an issue.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 May 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Well, it sounds like the software that you got from Microsoft should work just fine for your intended purpose. I would venture a guess that if you wanted to run 2 VM instances of it as well, that MS wouldn't have any issue or come after you for it.

So, you have Visual Studio Professional MSDN?
MSDN Subscriptions | Buy or renew an MSDN Subscription through Microsoft of a qualified reseller
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 Virtual Server - W2K8 / W2K3 Client licensing issues

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