How To Configure the Remote Desktop License Server



This Knowledge base article provides information about how to configure the Remote Desktop license (RDS) server for Neverfail Workspaces.

More Information 

Microsoft provides a grace period of 120 days for RDS deployments.  In order to keep a working environment, an RDS License Server must be configured with RDS Client Access Licenses (CALs) and the RDS deployment must be pointed to the License Server BEFORE the 120 days expire.  Otherwise, all application and desktop session launching will fail.

Workspaces will automatically configure a Remote Desktop license server for you, however, once created you must manually install the RDS CALs on the license server.

Neverfail does NOT provide RDS CALs.

Before you begin the following are items you should consider:

  1. If any Windows 2016 session host servers exist within the Active Directory domain you are installing the license server for, including the broker gateway, you MUST install the RDS License server on a Windows 2016 server, and you MUST install Windows 2016 RDS CALs. A Windows 2016 RDS license server and Windows 2016 CALs are backward compatible, meaning they will allow a user access to a Windows 2012r2 server, however, a Windows 2012r2 license server cannot provide Windows 2016 RDS CALs.
  2. You can NOT share a license server between different Active Directory domains, unless there is a two-way trust between those domains. The link below references a Microsoft article that has further information regarding Remote Desktop Licensing server best practices.
  3. The only Windows RDS License model Workspaces supports requires the RDS license server be joined to the same Windows domain as the session host(s). While other configuration are possible Workspaces will not auto configure them, they are untested with Workspaces, and they are not supported.
  4. The process outlined below assumes you are installing the Windows RDS license server on a server which is managed by Workspaces. It is possible to install the license server on a server which is not managed by Workspaces, however, this is not a supported configuration.
  5. If you have multiple Clouds you can utilize one domain license server, however, it is recommended for environment resiliency that you setup one license server per cloud. Having one license server in each cloud will help to avoid any issues where the license server could become unavailable to remote cloud(s).


Microsoft Remote Desktop Licensing server best practices


To begin the process of installing the Windows Remote Desktop license server log into Workspaces with your administrator level account. The first thing you must determine is the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the server where the new license server will be installed.

The examples provided below illustrate installing the RDS license server on a Windows Domain Controller.

Within Workspaces go to the Virtual Servers area as shown below and obtain the FQDN of the server you wish to utilize. In this case we are going to use ad.hightimes.none, however, if you did not know the FQDN you can use the search box to lookup the server you need.


In Workspaces, the field you will enter the license server FQDN into is located within the App Gateway properties page.

There are two ways to get to the App Gateway properties; if you are on the Virtual Machine screen as shown above, click on the server you identified which will access the server's details page. Once on the server's details page, on the left-hand side, you will see the information shown in this image.

The associated Cloud is listed and you can simply click on the hyper-link to go straight to the Cloud page.

Alternatively you can go to Clouds, locate the correct Cloud, and click to select it.

Once on the Cloud page you will click the App Gateway link along the top of the screen as shown in the next image.


On the App Gateway page, below, you will see one, or possibly multiple, App Gateways listed. Select the App Gateway which corresponds to the domain you are installing the license server for.


The following page will be presented.

As shown, enter the server's FQDN in the License Server Hostname field, press Save.


A new Workflow similar to this next image will begin. Once the Workflow has successfully completed the new RDS license server has been installed.


To validate the installation of the license server and install your Windows Remote Desktop CALs begin by running the Remote Desktop License Manager. The easiest way to accomplish this is to first access the desktop of the server where you installed the License Server.

Once you are at the server desktop press the Windows Start button and locate the Windows Administrative Tools tile as shown below, click on the tile.


Locate the Remote Desktop Services folder, click on it.


Locate the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool, click on it.


The following instruction come from the Microsoft link at the bottom of the page. Refer to the information at that location for more details on RDS Licensing.

The Remote Desktop Services license server issues client access licenses (CALs) to users and devices when they access the RD Session Host. You can activate the license server by using the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.

  1. Right-click the license server, and then click Activate Server.
  2. Click Next on the welcome page.
  3. For the connection method, select Automatic connection (recommended), and then click Next.
  4. Enter your company information (your name, the company name, your geographic region), and then click Next.
  5. Optionally enter any other company information (for example, email and company addresses), and then click Next.
  6. Continuing from #5 above, make sure that Start Install Licenses Wizard now is NOT selected, and then click Next.
  7. The license server will activate and is now ready to issue and manage licenses.


Use the following information to install Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (CALs) on the license server. Once the CALs are installed, the license server will issue them to users as appropriate.

Note: you need Internet connectivity on the computer running Remote Desktop Licensing Manager but not on the computer running the license server.

  1. On the license server open the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.
  2. Right-click the license server, and then click Install licenses.
  3. Click Next on the welcome page.
  4. Select the program you purchased your RDS CALs from, and then click Next. If you are a service provider, select Service Provider License Agreement.
  5. Enter the information for your license program. In most cases, this will be the license code or an agreement number, but this varies depending on the license program you're using.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Select the product version, license type, and number of licenses for your environment, and then click Next. The license manager contacts the Microsoft Clearinghouse to validate and retrieve your licenses.
  8. Click Finish to complete the process.


Licensing your RDS deployment with client access licenses (CALs)


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