Licensing Windows Server 2008


Server Licence and CALs

Purchase a Server licence for each server, and then purchase Client Access Licences (CALs) for either users or devices.

CALs are version specific. They must be the same version or later than the server software being accessed.  A customer’s CALs permit access to servers licensed by that customer or its affiliate. An affiliate can be determined from the Agreement.


Broader Use Rights

Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise license permits a running instance in up to 4 virtual operating system environments at a time on the licensed server. With some products, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, you may run any number of instances at the same time as long as you license each physical processor on the licensed server.   

The number of permitted instances for each Operating System license

Operating System                 Permitted instances in physical and virtual operating system environments on a single server
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 1* + 1
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise 1* + 4
Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter 1 + Unlimited
Windows Small Business Server 2008 Standard 1* or 1
Windows Server 2003 for Small Business 1* or 1

*If running the maximum allowed instances, the instance in the physical operating system environment may only be used to run hardware virtualization software, provide hardware virtualization services, or run software to manage and service operating system environments on the licensed server.The Server Licence and CALs model applies to the Standard and Enterprise editions of Windows Server 2008.

Server Licence only

Purchase a Server licence for each server, no CALs required.

This model applies to Windows Web Server 2008 edition only.

External Users

Licensed through either an External Connector licence, or through individual User CALs.

An External Connector (EC) license is an alternative to CALs for each server that external users will access. External users are users who are not employees or onsite contractors.  An EC license assigned to a server permits access by any number of external users, as long as that access is for the benefit of the licensee and not the external user.  Each physical server that external users access requires only one EC license regardless of the number of instances running.  The right to run instances of the server software is licensed separately; the EC, like the CAL, simply permits access.  EC licenses, like CALs, are version and functionality specific. They must be the same version or later than the server software being accessed.  The decision on whether to acquire CALs or an EC for external users is primarily a financial one. (PUR July 2009 )

Windows SharePoint Services

Windows® SharePoint® Services is for creating shared workspaces so teams can easily work together.

If a user is licensed to use Windows Server, then there is no additional licence required for them to use Windows SharePoint Services.

Note that this is a different product to Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server which is a separate purchase.

Windows Terminal Services

Terminal Services allows a user to access applications or data stored on a remote computer or terminal over a network connection, enabling reuse of older hardware and remote management.

Terminal Services needs to be activated on the Windows Server which needs to be licensed in per User/Device mode. Users need to be licensed for all the software they are using, plus they need a Terminal Services CAL as well as Windows Server CAL.

A Terminal Services External Connector is available as an option for non-employees.

Windows Right Management Services

Windows® Rights Management Services is a security technology that works with RMS-enabled applications (such as Microsoft® Office 2003 and Microsoft® Office 2007) to help safeguard digital information from unauthorised use.

Within the organisation, users must have RMS CALs, and an RMS External Connector is available as an option for non- employees.


A Windows CAL is required:

o for authenticated access (an exchange of user or application credentials between the server software and a user or device)

o to access server services (such as file services, printing services, remote access services)

A Windows CAL is NOT required:

o for external users who are licensed with an External Connector licence

o when access is to Windows Web Server 2008

o when access is through the Internet and is unauthenticated (for example, when browsing a public Web site)


For customers with active Software Assurance, previous versions of Windows Server can be upgraded to Windows Server 2008. Customers with SA on Standard, Enterprise or Datacenter Editions can opt for the same edition with or without Hyper-V but once they have made that choice they will not be able to switch.

CALs used must match the highest version of Windows Server being used.


Customers with Windows Server 2008 may exercise volume licensing downgrade rights to use earlier versions:

 Windows Server 2008 Standard (with or without Hyper-V) may be downgraded to Windows Server 2003 Standard or Windows 2000 Server

 Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (with or without Hyper-V) may be downgraded to Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition or Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Use existing media if available, or order new media

Volume Activation 2.0

Activation is required for all editions of Windows Server 2008. This enables protection and management of customer specific volume keys and helps differentiate genuine installations.

Activation for Windows Server 2008 works in a similar way as it does for Windows Vista™, with multiple options available for volume licensing customers.

Multiple Activation Key (MAK) is a one time activation against Microsoft and should be used for up to 5 installations of Windows Server 2008. Each server can connect and activate individually, or through one central activation request on behalf of multiple servers (proxy activation).

Key Management Service (KMS) should be used for more than 5 servers and activation is done against a customer hosted service, and not with Microsoft.

Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) has been removed from Windows Server 2008 but if Windows Server 2008 is not activated within the Initial Grace period (60 days) or an Out of Tolerance Grace period (30 days), persistent notifications will alert users of the need to activate. The system functions normally except that the desktop background is black, a KMS host cannot activate or renew clients, and Windows Update installs only critical updates.


© 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft provides this material solely for informational purposes.



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