How to Install and Activate the RDS Licensing Role and CALs on Windows Server 2019/2016?

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In this article, we’ll consider the installation, configuration, and activation of the Remote Desktop Licensing role on Windows Server 2019 and 2016, as well as the installation and activation of the RDS client access licenses (CALs).

I remind you that after the installation of the Remote Desktop Session Host role, users can use it only for 120 days of a trial period (evaluation license), and users can’t connect to an RDS host afterward. According to Microsoft licensing rules, all users or devices that use RDS features must be licensed. To register and issue Remote Desktop Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs), there is a separate Windows service in the RDS role called Remote Desktop License Server.


Sign into the server you want to use as the license server using an administrator account >
In Server Manager > click Roles Summary > then click Add Roles > Click Next on the first page of the roles wizard.

Select Remote Desktop Services > then click Next > then Next on the Remote Desktop Services page >

Select Remote Desktop Licensing > then click Next. 

  then click Next > Click Install > Close (Once installation done).


Open the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager: click Start > Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.

Right-click the license server > then click Activate Server.

Click Next on the welcome page.

For the connection method > select Automatic connection (recommended) > then click Next.

Enter your company information (your name, the company name, your geographic region) > and then click Next > Optionally enter any other company information (for example, email and company addresses) >  then click Next.

Make sure that Start Install Licenses Wizard now is not selected (we’ll install the licenses in a later step) >  and then click Next.

Your license server is now ready to start issuing and managing licenses.


When configuring via GPO, you need to create a new GPO and link it to the OU with RDS servers. The licensing settings are located in the following section of the GPO:

Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Admin Templates -> Windows Components -> Remote Desktop Services -> Remote Desktop Session Host -> Licensing

There are 2 policies that we need:

Use the specified Remote Desktop license servers – the address of the License Server is set
Set the Remote Desktop licensing mode – the licensing method is selected

You can check the License Server status and the number of the issued licenses using RD Licensing Diagnoser (Administrative Tools -> Remote Desktop Services -> RD Licensing Diagnoser).

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