How To Transfer Terminal Services Licenses In Windows 2003, 2008, 2012

I haven’t had to move licenses from one terminal services license server for a number of years, but I’ve recently migrated from Terminal Server 2008 R2 to Terminal Services in Windows Server 2012. Naturally, this involves transferring the terminal services licenses from 2008 R2 to 2012 then upgrading the licenses.

Back in the days of 2003, I recall transferring the terminal services licenses with the following process:

  1. Install Terminal Services License Server on the new server
  2. Stopping the terminal server license service on the old and new servers
  3. Move the C:\System32\lserver directory from the old to the new license server
  4. Start the license services on the new license server
  5. Activate the new license server (if required)
  6. Upgrade the licenses

This method seems to work in Remote Desktop Services Licensing Service on Windows Server 2012 too. However, according to Microsoft, the correct way to transfer terminal services licenses in Server 2012, is to:

  1. Install Terminal Services Licensing
  2. Activate the license server
  3. On the new Terminal Services license server, click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Terminal Server Licensing.
  4. In the Terminal Server Licensing snap-in, right-click the Terminal Services license server, and then click Properties. In the Installation method list, click Telephone, and then click OK.
  5. Right-click the Terminal Services license server, and then click Install Licenses. The Welcome to the Terminal Server CAL Installation Wizard dialog box appears.
  6. Click Next. In the Obtain Client License Key Pack dialog box, you will find the license server ID.
  7. Use this license server ID to obtain a CAL Key Pack ID. To install CALs on the new license server, you must have a CAL Key Pack ID. You can receive a CAL Key Pack ID by calling the Microsoft Clearinghouse or by visiting the following Microsoft Web site:
  8. In the Obtain Client License Key Pack dialog box, type the CAL Key Pack ID in the Type the client license key pack ID in the boxes below field.
  9. Click Next. You will receive a message that states that the CALs have been installed successfully.
  10. Once the new license server is working, deactivate the old license server by uninstalling the Terminal Services Licensing component on the old server.
  11. Obviously the final step is to upgrade the licenses if moving to 2012

Personally, I prefer the old method of transferring terminal services licenses to Windows Server 2012 🙂

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4 thoughts on “How To Transfer Terminal Services Licenses In Windows 2003, 2008, 2012

  1. Hi,

    Can a terminal server on Server 2012 use licensing from a Server 2008 licensing server?

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    • You can’t use Server 2008 licenses for a Server 2012 terminal server… Whether you can install Server 2012 licenses on a Server 2008 license server, I don’t know off the top of my head. My guess would be, probably not.

      If you give me a bit more detail about your plans, perhaps I can help you plan your transfer to 2012?

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  2. If I move my 2008 licenses to a 2012 server and upgrade them , will my 2008 terminal servers still work?

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    • I don’t remember… its been a while since I wrote this article. I vaguely remember speaking to Microsoft Clearing House about transferring terminal server 2008 R2 licences to Server 2012 and remember them saying that they could set the 2008 R2 licences to expire a month later in case I needed to roll back… but I’m pretty sure you can’t transfer them back to 2008 R2 once they’ve been transferred to 2012…

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