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FAQ for CALs - Frequently Asked (Client Access License) Questions




Client Access Licenses (CALs) grant access to certain Microsoft Server software licenses, allowing users and devices to utilize the services of the server software.


There are different types of CALs including Device CALs, User CALs, and RDS CALs. For more information on CALs, be sure to read our recent Coffee Coaching blog Don’t Forget the CALs- All About Client Access Licenses  and watch the latest Coffee Coaching CAL session: Understanding Windows Server Client Access Licenses (CALs)


Today, we want to go over three CAL housekeeping questions we often hear.  


  1. “What happens if my customer loses their CAL?” 
    Windows Server CALs are not “enforced” by software and product keys, so the CAL Pack Certificates of Authenticity or COAs only value is as the customer’s “proof of purchase.” The customer’s invoice may serve the same purpose, so there is no need to replace the CAL Pack COA.  


  1. “How does CAL activation work?” 
    It is important to know that user and device CALs do not need to be activated with the exception of RDS CALs. RDS CALs can only be activated through the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool in Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2. 

    For steps and options to activate a RDS Licensing server please visit this link 
    For steps to install RDS-CAL licenses on the RDS Licensing server please go here.  

    Both steps have three options described/linked in the TechNet pages referenced above: 
    - Install/activate automatically (online) 
    - Install/activate over the phone 


  1. “What CALs are compatible with what versions of Windows Server?” 
    CALs must be the same version as, or higher than, the server software they are accessing. Windows Server 2012 CALs are backwards compatible to Windows Server 2008 R2, 2008, & 2003 R2. RDS CALs however are version-specific, so be sure to match the RDS CAL version with the customer’s Windows Server version.  

Read the QuickSpecs to find more information on CALs, including the CALs specific part numbers and details. 

We would like to recommend that you do a “CAL check-up” call with your customers. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to visit your customers and ensure they have enough CALs on hand, and also gives you a chance to see if there is anything else that may have changed and how you can help.  


For more information on CALs, be sure to join the Coffee Coaching community by following us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and LinkedIn and please let us know if you have any more questions about CALs that we have not covered here.

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