Windows Server CAL change to Licensing Rules – Clarification on new licensing policy


Hi All

I know I have had this conversation with many of you regarding the requirement to have the highest Windows Server in the environment set the CAL version, and my previous blog posts on Windows Server Licensing and CALs have always stipulated this requirement, we have listened to feedback and made some very good licensing changes as below:

In Brief:

Currently, if your physical server environment is running Windows Server 2003, matching version CALs are required for all users (i.e. Windows Server 2003 CALs).

However, if you move your physical Windows Server 2003 Operating System Environments (OSE) to run as virtual machines hosted by Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 CALs are required. This is per the current product use rights HERE

With the change in our licensing policy, Windows Server 2008 CALs are no longer required if you are using Windows Server 2008 solely as a Virtualisation host. The only exception to this is if you are running Windows Server 2008 virtual machines, which would require Windows Server 2008 CALs.

To help demonstrate the effect of the licensing change, I have included three scenarios below and the resulting requirements.


Note: This change will be in effect for all Windows 2008 Server Licenses both with and without SA coverage and any prior Windows Server Licenses that are covered with active SA or EA

More info in the new updated licensing briefs HERE



  1. hi emma, what is the position on managing this? I have no desire to sit at the console of the machine, I am looking to either doing it via RDP or Vista hyperv management tools – or for that matter SCVMM and simalarly using DPM or something to backup the enviroment? we are at present running hyperv server and finding managing it "interesting" so would prefer the option of ditching "the w2008 core" and moving to a gui as easier to manage when you need to

  2. Hi EmmaI meant the licencing side sorry it wasn\’t clearer, I want to run W2008 so that it is easier to manage (locally) etc than hyperv server. I am happy that for run-of-the-mill users accessing the 2003 VMs the requirements for 2008 CALs have been removed but I am more interested on the requirements to manage and support hyperviser/2008 server layer.I want to be able to remotely access it via the Vista HyperV tools or RDP and for example it up for example using a DPM server… obviously for the System Center stuff I need the required MLs to cover it but where does this all fall in respect of needing 2008 CALs, is it a case of 1 user CAL to cover me?Hopefully that is clearer now.CheersChris

  3. Hi ChristopherAhhaI think I know what you are getting out now, you merely want to administer the instances of the Windows Server/Hyper V, correct?If that is the case, see below from the PUR, point 3You do not need CALs for:(1) any user or device that accesses your instances of the server software only through the Internet without being authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means,(2) any of your servers licensed for and running instances of the server software, (3) up to two devices or users to access your instances of the server software only to administer those instances, or(4) any instance running in a physical operating system environment used solely to(i) run hardware virtualization software(ii) provide hardware virtualization services(iii) run software to manage and service operating system environments on the licensed serverHope this helpsEmma

  4. Dmitry i am not clear on what setup you have, so, if this is Windows Server 2003 instance with Windows 2003 CALs, fine, if you have bought Windows 2008 and used downgrade rights to install only Windows 2003 instances, then yes, Windows 2003 CALs are fine, if you have bought Windows 2008 server, using 2008 hyperV to host Windows 2003 instances, then yes only Windows 2003 CALs are required, if you have any Windows 2008 instances, you need 2008 CALsCheersEmma

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