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Understanding Server Licensing Issues

Another aspect of planning your Windows Server 2003 installation is determining whether you will license the clients that log on to your network servers. There are two licensing modes: per server and per seat. It's important that you choose the licensing mode that best suits your networking plan and the potential growth of your user base.

In per server mode, you are licensed for a certain number of concurrent connections to the server. If you have 50 licenses, 50 clients can connect to the server. Per server mode is the best choice when you have a small network consisting of only one domain (and one domain controller). It also works best for networks when only part of your client base is connected to the server at any one time. For example, if you run different shifts at your company, you need only a per server license that covers the number of users connected to the server at any one time (not your entire employee population).

In per seat mode, you purchase a license for each network user on the network. Each of these users can connect to any and all the servers on the network. As far as large networks go, per seat mode is probably the best licensing strategy, especially if network resources are spread across a number of Windows Server 2003 servers.

You must select your licensing mode during Windows Server 2003 installation. So, it is important to consider licensing in terms of network growth and usage.

However, if you select to use the per server licensing and then determine that it would make more sense to change to per seat licensing, you have one opportunity to switch licensing modes. This switch is done using the Licensing snap-in.

  1. To open the Licensing snap-in, select Start, then Administrative Tools, and then Licensing. The Licensing snap-in opens in the Microsoft Management Console (see Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 The Licensing snap-in is used to record the various licenses for products that you use in your network environment.

  1. In the Licensing snap-in, select the Server Browser tab in the snap-in window. Then expand the domain (or workgroup) node. Right-click the Server icon (the local server) and select Properties. The Properties dialog box opens for the server and shows the current licensing mode for the server (and the number of licenses purchased).

  2. To change the licensing mode from a server that is currently in per server mode, click the Edit button. The Choose Licensing Mode dialog box opens (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 Change the licensing mode to Per Seat.

  1. Select Per Seat and then click OK.

  2. When you are using the per seat licensing mode, new licenses are added using the Licensing snap-in. Use the License command and then the New License command to record licenses for your Windows domain client licenses and other network products.


Microsoft has created some new licensing schemes for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. A new User Client Access license enables a user to connect to network services using any device, including computers and devices such as PDAs (this does not replace the Device Client Access licensing scheme currently in use in Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003). External Connector licenses are also new and can be used by customers or partners to connect to license network services in the domain. Whatever licensing you use, the License snap-in provides you with a way of recording and tracking licensing on the network. For more information on Microsoft licensing, check out http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/Default.asp.

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