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Licensing Remote Desktop Services under EES

By marksams, 02/02/2012 - 16:33

Licensing for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) can be challenging enough, but under EES there are the added complexities of different price-points for the enterprise-wide FTE count, ‘additional products’ i.e. per-department licensing, and the Student Option - the option to subscribe to software under EES at a lower price point for student-owned or student-exclusive devices.

The unit price to license RDS CALs as an additional product is higher than the unit price for the FTE count, as it assumed you will buy less of them on a departmental basis. The lowest priced option is student-owned or student exclusive devices only.

As with RDS CALs in general, there is the option to license connections on a per-device or per-user basis. This means under EES there is at least six different options for RDS CALs – organisation-wide, department/additional product and student all require the per-device or per-user decision. There is no price difference between per-user and per-device CALs.

For departments

The decision is quite straightforward at a department level:

  • If you have 10 computers in a classroom with access to RDS, used by 30 people, then buy per-device CALs.
  • If you have 10 people using 30 computers/laptops/tablets/smart-phones then buy per-user CALs.


At the organisation-wide level you would think the per-user/per-device decision is irrelevant because you will purchase the amount of CALs according to your FTE count. This might be true until you consider connections from student-owned/student-exclusive devices.

In a recent forum post, a user asked for the correct way to license RDS connections from sixth formers with their own laptops, when RDS was already licensed organisation-wide. This sparked a debate about whether per-user licensing applies organisation-wide, and after a couple of emails and conversations with Microsoft representatives, we determined there are a couple of ways to be legally covered in this scenario, and the EES program rules/available options do not resolve the ambiguity.

Option 1 – The more expensive way:

Buy part code 6VC-01516 for your FTE Count – This is an organisation-wide per device RDS CAL for organisations with less than 1000 FTEs. Per device CALs assume that all shared PCs within the organisation are licensed for RDS connections.

Because you purchased per-device CALs for all school PCs, you now need to purchase additional CALs for either your students (per-user) or their student devices (per-device).

As the students are extremely unlikely to share their own laptops, and may have more than one device, it makes sense to license the students per-user.

At this point you might be wondering whether you should be using ‘Additional Product’ per-user CALs (i.e. department CALs) or Student per-user CALs.

It’s important to note that the ‘Student Option’ under EES has qualifying requirements such as a ‘student FTE’ count of 5 or more, and that you must license a desktop platform product according to your ‘student FTE’ count. However, I double-checked with Microsoft that you do not need to meet these requirements in this example. The ‘Student Option’ is designed for desktop platform products that can be used at home and in school and is not a pre-requisite to purchasing a student-specific CAL for RDS.

The detail is important because although per-device and per-user CALs are the same cost, the student-specific CALs are approx. two thirds cheaper than ‘additional product’ CALs and nearly 50% cheaper than ‘Enterprise-wide’ CALs.

Therefore (in this example) in addition to 6VC-01516 - enterprise-wide per device RDS CALs, it make sense to purchase 6VC-01521 - Student per user RDS CALs for the sixth formers.

Option 2 – The less expensive way:

Buy part code 6VC-01518 for your FTE Count – This is an organisation-wide per-user RDS CAL for organisations with less than 1000 FTEs. Per-user CALs assume that all users (including teachers and students) within the organisation are licensed for RDS connections.

Note – there is no price difference between per user or per-device CALs.

Further information

Here is excerpt from the EES program guide which may help guide your decision in which option to choose:

Your students can also use the licensed product on institution-owned or leased devices located in classrooms or open access labs within your defined organization. To license your students to run products on a device the student either personally owns or is institution-owned and is assigned to an individual student for their exclusive use, you may enroll in the Student Option (see The Student Option).

It seems to me that the above statement applies to device-based licensing, and assumes installation of desktop platform products onto student devices. There was no objection from the Microsoft representative I spoke to about the organisation-wide per-user option in the example above.

External Connections

Microsoft provides a ‘license grant’ for external connections to RDS for ‘parents, prospective students, alumni, and students and faculty of collaborating institutions.’

"In support of the government’s Online Reporting policy and targets, Microsoft has extended the coverage of student licences in appropriate circumstances to cover their parents/guardians. Under Select Licence, Open Licence and School Agreement and Enrolment for Education Solutions a CAL is no longer required for the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of licensed student users." Download the free licence grant document "Additionally, for certain CAL options under the School Agreement and Enrolment for Education Solutions, External Connector Licences are now included for prospective students, alumni, and students and faculty of collaborating institutions." Download the free licence grant document


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