In this guide, we will look at how to license a remote desktop server (terminal server), or in other words, configure the server to connect to it via RDP. This instruction is suitable for Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019 and 2022 versions.

1) The first thing we need to do is add remote desktop services and roles, if you haven’t installed them yet. Go to Active Directory => Add roles and fatures => Select the desired server.

Next, add in the roles – “Remote Desktop Services”, and in the “Roles Service” – “Remote Desktop Licensing”, you can also install – “Remote Desktop Gateway”, “Remote Desktop Session Host”, and “Remote Desktop Connection Broker”.

Next, install the services and reboot the server.

2) The next step we need to configure the group policy. To make the configuration, go to the “Search” on the toolbar => gpedit.msc

Computer Configuration => Administrative Templates => Windows Components => Remote Desktop Services => Remote Desktop Session Host => Licensing.

Go to the menu “Use the specified remote desktop license servers” and enter the name of your server or its IP in the field. You must specify exactly the name of your server.

After that, go to the menu “Set the remote desktop licensing mode”, select “Per user” or “Per device” in the drop-down menu, depending on your license.

3) Now you can go directly to the licensing itself. We go back to Active Directory => Remote Desktop Services => Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.

Right-click on your server => Activate server

Go to the “Activate Server Wizard”.

Select the recommended “Automatic” connection method.

Next, optionally enter the first and last name, the name of your organization and the country where the server is located. (You can enter any data, they do not require verification).

We proceed to the licensing itself after registering above. You need an activation key for terminal server licensing — RDS CAL. In our case, it will be licensing “Per device”, it provides connection of 50 devices (clients) via RDP to the server.

You can purchase activation keys “Per user” or “Per Device” in our online store by selecting a license for your version of Windows Server. For more information, see the Windows Server RDS CAL directory on the next page.

When licensing – select “License Pack (Retail)” => Next.

Enter the activation key that you purchased.

Click “Next”.


After that, we return to the remote desktop licensing manager. And see if the server is activated. If yes, it means that everything was successful.

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