Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Currently we have a computer running Windows Server 2003. Each user uses the machine for software development. My understanding is that the "base" Server license allows up to 2 people to remote desktop and use the computer at the same time. To upgrade beyond that, I heard from IT, costs a fortune.

Is there a cost-effective alternative solution to this? Ideally, the same old Windows OS (either XP or Windows 7 would be great) but they all share the same PC.

Or am I just dreaming?

share|improve this question
To clarify -- when you say folks "use the machine for software development" do you mean via Remote Desktop? – Chris_K Dec 17 '09 at 2:21
@Chris_K: yes you are right. Sorry I forgot to mention that. – sivabudh Dec 17 '09 at 4:11
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You question doesn't give a very clear description of your situation, but to me it sounds like you have 1 computer that is running Windows 2003 server, and that at different times there might be a single person sitting at the desk logged in to it to do work. There are several people sharing the computer this way, and there is never any remote connections to the computer.

In addition to the actual Widows Server 2003 server license, Microsoft requires that you have either per-device or per-user client access licenses (CALs) for each device or user that accesses/uses the Windows Server 2003 software. Provided that you have a legitimate OEM/retail/volume licensing agreement, there may have been a certain number of CALs included with your software purchase. For example, a retail copy of W2K3 Standard includes 5 CALs.

Additionally, according to Microsoft, additional CALs can be purchased in 5-pack or 20-pack bundles at a price of about $40USD per CAL, which is not really that expensive.

I think the issue that you're suggesting with the 2-user limit is that there are 2 remote desktop connections allowed for administrative purposes. Additional CALs are required to use the software in a Terminal Server role.

All that being said, you have a couple of options. If you are developing Microsoft-centric software, the best thing to do is to spend the money for legitimate licenses. In addition to retail pricing, Microsoft has various other licensing programs that may be applicable to your situation. You'll need to check with Microsoft on that.

If you are doing non-Microsoft-centric software development, such as web development or Java apps, you could move development to an open source platform that meets your needs. Some choices are Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenSolaris. All are readily (and mostly freely) available, support a variety of development technologies, and don't have the licensing restrictions of Windows Server 2003.

share|improve this answer
So I just want to make sure I get this right: it would be roughly $150 for each additional Terminal Client Access CAL right? – sivabudh Dec 17 '09 at 21:36
Yes, but you may need to purchase both types of CALs, which would make the cost @ $190 per developer (see If you can give more details about your business model, it may be possible to recommend other choices, such as MSDN or volume licensing. Microsoft does have programs that lower overall costs, but you usually need to deal with them directly, or a certfied partner. As usual, buying at full retail costs the most. – Joe Internet Dec 18 '09 at 1:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .