AMC Raharja: Install Windows 2003 Terminal Service Licenses (Remote Desktop)

By default in Windows Server 2003, you can be logged in via Remote Desktop (formerly known as Terminal Services or “TS” if you’re “really cool.”) up to 2 times. Basically, you can login as administrator or other account that belongs to the Remote Desktop Users group 2 times simultaneously without additional licenses.

There is actually a grace period of 120 days from the time when you first install Windows 2003 where you can actually login with more than 2 simulatenous remote desktop sessions. But once that period is over, you must install a “Terminal Services License Pack” with Client Access Licenses (CAL) to be able to continue having more than 2 simultaneous connections.

Now, don’t even get me started on the ridiculous nature of this whole process. First of all, if I’ve already purchased the server, why do I have to get nickel and dimed everytime a user wants to login and use it? What’s more, you are in for an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE if you have already installed your Terminal Services License Pack on another machine and then want to move it to a new server. Finally, it isn’t clear or convenient in any way to purchase a license pack. You have to contact Microsoft directly and pay dearly to get a piece of paper with a license code that you can enter in this process to actually unlock some licenses!

The following are the steps to perform if you are installing a terminal services license pack for the first time or transferring your license to a new server.

First, go to the Start Menu -> Administrative Tools -> Terminal Server Licensing.


 The first thing that we have to do is create a terminal server license server. This will activate a running instance of a service that will run on your server and check your licenses and manage remote connection rights. Right-click your server name in the list of All Servers and choose Activate Server.


This launches the Terminal Server License Server Activation Wizard. Click Next.


Here you set the method you want to terminal server to connect to Microsoft’s validation servers to validate your CAL’s. By default, it uses an Internet connection via SSL. So if you use this option, make sure you have port 443 outgoing opened. You can also activate your terminal server by phone or email. Click Next.

You have to tell Microsoft a bunch of useless information about your company to get the server to activate. Enter your First name, Last name, Company, and Country or Region. Click Next.

Yet another list of company details that you have to enter. Enter your E-mail, Organizational Unit, Company address, City, State/province, and Postal Code. Click Next.

You will see a quick progress bar and then if all was entered correctly, you should see a screen like this with the message “Your license server has been successfully activated.” Now that your server is up and running, you can add your licenses to it so it knows how many connections are allowed. Leave the checkbox “Start Terminal Server Client Licensing Wizard now” selected and click Next.

Now you will go through the process of adding your License Code to the list and activate your licenses. Click Next.

Choose the type of license pack you are adding. (Why does it say “Pak” instead of “Pack?”). For the standard licensing packs you buy via Microsoft, choose “License Pak (Retail Purchase)”. Click Next.

Enter your license code that you received on the license pack paper. Click Add. You can add multiple license codes here and delete/edit them so you can activate more than 1 package of 5 CAL’s at a time. Once you’ve entered your license code(s), click Next.

If this is the first time you are activating this license code, you should see an enter in the Successfully install list box. If you do see a success message there, you are done! If you see something like the screenshot here, then either you entered your code incorrectly (not likely) or this license has already been added on another server. If so, you have to go through a few more ugly steps to transfer this license to a new server. Click Finish to exit this wizard.

If you are transferring your license to this server, you have to activate it by phone. There is currently no other way to transfer your license than by phone. So first you have to change your licensing server’s option to “Telephone”. So go back to the Administrative Tools -> Terminal Server Licensing dialog and right-click your server name. Then choose Properties.

On the Installation Method tab, change it from Internet to “Telephone”. Then select your country. Then click OK. (This tells the licensing server that we want to activate via Phone instead of Internet. Basically, all of this nonesense is just done so we can find the correct phone number to call to get our license activated.) Then click OK.


Now right-click your server name again and choose Install Licenses on the context menu.

We are back yet again to the licensing wizard dialog. Notice now that our Installation method says “Telephone”. Click Next.

A new screen is presented instead of entering your license key for Internet validation, you are given a phone number to call and activate. Call this phone number. WARNING: This is not pleasant. I had to explain to 3 different people before I got to the right person. Then you have to work with an individual whose first language is not english and try to muddle through a series of letters and numbers that have to be EXACTLY correct. My call took over 15 minutes to complete. Once the operator gives you a key pack ID, enter it in the boxes and click Next.

If you entered the codes correctly, you should now be activated and see a message that says “The new client license key pack has been successfully installed.” Click Finish to complete the wizard.

If you entered the codes correctly, you should now be activated and see a message that says “The new client license key pack has been successfully installed.” Click Finish to complete the wizard.

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