Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CALs (Client Access Licenses) and regular CALs (Client Access Licenses) for Windows Server are two different types of licenses that allow users or devices to access and use Microsoft Windows Server features and services. They serve distinct purposes and are used in different scenarios. Here’s how they differ:
1. RDS CAL (Remote Desktop Services CAL):
– Purpose: RDS CALs are specifically designed for remote desktop and application virtualization scenarios using Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services). They are required when users or devices access a Windows Server for the purpose of running applications or desktops remotely.
– Usage: RDS CALs are used when multiple users or devices need to connect to a Windows Server to access applications or desktops hosted on that server. They are typically used in Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) environments where multiple users share a single server.
– Licensing Mode: RDS CALs are available in two licensing modes: Per User and Per Device. You can choose the licensing mode based on your organization’s needs.
2. Regular CAL (Client Access License):
– Purpose: Regular CALs, also known as Windows Server CALs, are required for users or devices that need to access the core services and features of a Windows Server, such as file sharing, printing, directory services, and network services like DHCP and DNS.
– Usage: Regular CALs are used in scenarios where users or devices need access to the basic functionalities provided by a Windows Server, regardless of whether they are accessing it remotely or locally. They are not tied to remote desktop or application virtualization services.
– Licensing Mode: Like RDS CALs, regular CALs are available in two licensing modes: Per User and Per Device. You can choose the licensing mode based on how your organization manages user or device access.
So, RDS CALs are specifically for scenarios involving remote desktop and application access on Windows Servers, while regular CALs are for accessing the core services and features of a Windows Server, whether accessed remotely or locally. It’s important to correctly license your environment based on your usage to ensure compliance with Microsoft’s licensing terms.