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I am considering offering a service for my small business that will allow me to host a certain resource for my clients on my own network.

Problem is, they need occasional access to it, and it can't really be done online, so I need to set up a box to host remote desktop so they can log in and access it. I doubt I will ever have more than 1 or 2 users at once, but want to make sure I'm licensed properly for this type of thing.

How does windows licensing work? Is it legal if I just set up an XP Pro box, configure it for remote desktop, then buy as many XP Pro licenses as I think I will have simultaneous users?


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Windows XP only allows one session at a time. You can't have concurrent users. – Harry Johnston Jan 4 '13 at 2:02
Also I am not sure where you are going to buy XP licenses, you would be a lot better off doing it the "right way" and getting server licenses and CALs. Read here for some basic information on how licensing works and the difference between things like "User Licenses" and "Device Licenses". – Scott Chamberlain Jan 4 '13 at 7:39
@ScottChamberlain: actually, IIRC, there's an entirely separate sort of Remote Desktop Server licensing ("external connector" or something like that?) that applies when the users are third parties. I don't think you're allowed to use either standard User or Device licenses if the user isn't part of your organization. YMMV. – Harry Johnston Jan 5 '13 at 0:06
@HarryJohnston What I have read was a little vague on that aspect. To quote from the link I posted "An EC license assigned to a server permits access by any number of external users, as long as that access is for the benefit of the licensee and not the external user." So if Eli's service benefits his customers he could not use it, but if it does not benefit his customers and only benefits him he could. – Scott Chamberlain Jan 5 '13 at 1:42

Per Microsoft's EULA, you may have it installed on one machine (2 processors max), but you may connect to it with up to 10 devices (no mention of how many "users" that entails, though "user" really isn't an easily quantified term).

Installation and use. You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Product on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device (“Workstation Computer”). The Product may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer. You may permit a maximum of ten (10) computers or other electronic devices (each a “Device”) to connect to the Workstation Computer to utilize the services of the Product solely for File and Print services, Internet Information Services, and remote access (including connection sharing and telephony services). The ten connection maximum includes any indirect connections made through “multiplexing” or other software or hardware which pools or aggregates connections. Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting, Remote Assistance, and Remote Desktop features described below, you may not use the Product to permit any Device to use, access, display or run other executable software residing on the Workstation Computer, nor may you permit any Device to use, access, display, or run the Product or Product’s user interface, unless the Device has a separate license for the Product.

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As long as only 1 person is connecting at a time per license, you are legal.

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Do you mean "as many people as you have licenses", or actually 1 person? – cpast Jan 4 '13 at 0:31
@cpast Yes, as many people as I have licenses. Updating answer – Canadian Luke Jan 4 '13 at 2:13
Surely the distinction is irrelevant, since Windows XP does not allow multiple concurrent sessions? – Harry Johnston Jan 4 '13 at 2:55
@HarryJohnston There is a hack out there that allows "more" connections, but the server has to avoid many updates from Microsoft to keep the hack. I never tried it, but I saw it in action – Canadian Luke Jan 4 '13 at 3:13
It seems likely that the hack itself violates the license terms. But the only thing I can say definitively is "talk to a lawyer". – Harry Johnston Jan 4 '13 at 23:59

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