User licensing in Microsoft networks

In the Jungle

Special Cases: Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange

Users who access Lync do not need to be licensed if they do not need to be authenticated by either Lync or Active Directory. This is useful, for example, when using Lync as a telephone system. Callers do not need a license, but the Lync client is not free. If you want to install the Lync client, you need the standalone application or you can install Office Professional Plus, which contains the Lync client. You must, however, license both the underlying server and the CALs for the server.

This is also the case for Exchange. No Outlook license is included with either the server license, the Enterprise CAL, Standard CAL, or even the corresponding CAL suite. Users always need to license Outlook separately. Exchange CALs only allow access to the mailbox and do not give you Outlook free of charge.

As with Exchange, there are both Standard and Enterprise licenses for Lync. These licenses are necessary if the server is used as a video and web conferencing server, for desktop sharing or as a room system, and for multiple HD video streams. If you do use Lync, you need to examine the licensing in detail and possibly seek advice as to the required licenses. If you also use the Office Web App server with SharePoint, you do not need to purchase any licenses for this service. However, if you run Office Web App server on a standalone server, you will of course need Windows CALs for it.

Licensing Virtual Environments

Companies that virtualize Windows Server products need to plan licensing just like licensing traditional servers. Although virtual machines are already licensed for the Datacenter Edition and are automatically enabled when the Hyper-V host is activated, you still need CALs for these servers. You must, therefore, bear many things in mind regarding virtualized environments.

If you have a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) based on Hyper-V, Remote Desktop Services, or other virtualization solutions like VMware vSphere or Citrix XenServer in the enterprise, you can use a special type of licensing, called Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA). You assign VDA to a specific computer in the VDI environment and can then access a virtual environment on the Windows computer provided via VDI (Figure 2).

Figure 2: If you use Windows Server 2012 R2 as a host for a VDI infrastructure, VDA licenses can also be used.

Put simply, this is a virtual Windows 7/8.1 computer. VDA is a subscription licensing model. The license is only available for assigning to virtual machines in a VDI environment. You are not allowed to use this license for installing or running a physical computer.

VDA gives a user the right to access their virtual machine from any internal access device. That can be a PC, tablet, or notebook. However, remember that Windows servers must be licensed and that, in many cases, RDS CALs are also required. VDAs only cover licensing for the virtual operating system, not for the whole access path across remote desktop services and other areas of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Using the VDA license, you also have the option of using the Windows To Go function from Windows 8.1. Users can thus start the operating system from a USB memory stick. To this end, users can create a Windows To Go disk from their VDI desktop and then use it anywhere without the need for additional licenses. Using Windows To Go via VDA also lets mobile users run Office programs from their VDI environment on the mobile Windows To Go system.

Bring Your Own Device

If you are still with me at this point, you will not be fazed by the fact that Microsoft has also come up with the Companion Subscription License (CSL), which does not make licensing any easier to understand. When a user accesses their VDI computer using their own, private computer on the company network, this access is not covered by VDA. VDA only supports the ability to transport VDI operating systems via Windows To Go beyond the normal scope of use.

For example, if companies allow users to access VDI computers with their own tablets at the office, this access is not covered by VDA. In this case, you also need the CSL. If these virtual computer users then want to access their PCs using their tablets, the VDI system must be licensed with VDA and the users need CSLs. This allows the users to access their VDI desktops from their other computers (e.g., from home).

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy ADMIN Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Licensing Windows Server 2012
    Windows 2012 sees Microsoft release the latest version of its server operating system. With multiple editions, and different access licenses, licensing can be difficult to understand. This article attempts to let a little light into the jungle.
  • System Center 2012 SP1: What's new?
    Service Pack 1 expands System Center 2012 primarily in terms of features for virtualization and cloud computing. We provide the details in this article.
  • Windows Server 2016 for small servers
    Small businesses often do not need the full-blown version of Windows Server 2016. If the application scenarios are manageable, the cheaper Essentials version is the ideal solution; however, it does come with a number of restrictions.
  • Managing Office 365 in PowerShell
    Microsoft offers its Office programs as a service in the cloud. To integrate the Office 365 service into your own infrastructure, PowerShell is a natural choice.
  • Managing Office 365 in PowerShell

    Microsoft offers its Office programs as a service in the cloud. To integrate the Office 365 service into your own infrastructure, PowerShell is a natural choice.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs

Support Our Work

ADMIN content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you've found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More”>


		<div class=