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Windows Server CAL

Published By:  Microsoft

Client access permission for authentication with Windows Server

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New Features
System Req.

Windows Server 2012 R2 enables you to run your most important workloads with robust recovery capabilities. Take advantage of a wide range of high-performance storage options and build, deploy, operate, and monitor applications on-premise and in the cloud. This release introduces hundreds of new features and enhancements in virtualisation, management, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, the web/application platform and more.

If the workstations in your organization are networked, you likely depend on network server software to perform certain functions, such as file and print sharing. To legally access this server software, a Client Access License (CAL) may be required. A CAL is not a software product; rather, it is a license that gives a user the right to access the services of the server.

With the User CAL, you purchase a CAL for every user who accesses the server to use services such as file storage or printing, regardless of the number of devices they use for that access. Purchasing a User CAL might make more sense if your company employees need to have roaming access to the corporate network using multiple devices, or from unknown devices, or simply have more devices than users in your organization.

With a Device CAL, you purchase a CAL for every device that accesses your server, regardless of the number of users who use that device to access the server. Device CALs may make more economic and administrative sense if your company has workers who share devices, for example, on different work shifts.

If you want external users—such as business partners, external contractors, or customers—to be able to access your network, you have two licensing options:

- Acquire CALs for each of your external users.
- Acquire External Connector (EC) licenses for each server that will be accessed by your external users.

An external user is a person who is not an employee or similar personnel of the company or its affiliates, and is not someone to whom you provide hosted services. 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. Each physical server that external user’s access requires only one EC license regardless of the number of software instances running. An 'instance' is an installed copy of software.

The right to run instances of the server software is licensed separately; the EC, like the CAL, simply permits access. The decision on whether to acquire CALs or an EC for external users is primarily a financial one.

New in Windows Server 2012 R2

Improved Server Capacity

Windows Server 2012 R2 supports massive scalability and can run your most demanding workloads, allowing you to take maximum advantage of your server hardware investment. Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 provides industry-leading virtualisation host support for 320 logical processors, 4TB of physical memory and 1,024 active virtual machines per host. Hyper-V supports 64-node clusters and 8,000 VMs per cluster. And it supports a 64 TB virtual disk format with the ability for online resize.

Live Migration with RDMA

With Windows Server 2012 R2, Live Migration now takes advantage of remote direct memory access (RDMA) technologies to dramatically increase migration speed by leveraging the power of your computer hardware. New live migration compression also improves migration performance by roughly 2X.

Virtual Machine Live Cloning

New for Windows Server 2012 R2, Virtual Machine Live Cloning enables the duplication of a Virtual Machine while it is running. This is ideal for upgrading or for troubleshooting and fixing application issues, without requiring any downtime.

Dynamic NIC Teaming

New with Windows Server 2012 R2, Dynamic NIC Teaming enables major network performance gains by automatically balancing network traffic to get the fastest throughput and avoid network disconnects.

Virtual Receive-side Scaling (vRSS)

New for Windows Server 2012 R2, vRSS takes advantage of multi-core computers to handle the most intensive workloads by enabling much higher network traffic loads. Previously only available with physical processors, RSS is now enabled for virtualized workloads (both for the Hyper-V host and for the VMs on that host).

Hyper-V Replica: Multi-node and Configurable Replication Interval

Windows Server 2012 R2 adds the flexibility to customise your replication interval to 15 minutes, 5 minutes, or as little as 30 seconds, depending on your business needs. It also introduces multi-node Hyper V Replica, so you can replicate to a tertiary site for even greater reliability.

Storage Spaces with Automatic Tiering

Storage tiering, a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2, takes advantage of the latest storage hardware to ensure files are stored optimally for fastest access. With storage tiering, low-cost, high-capacity spinning disks are used to store less frequently used data, while high-speed solid state disks are automatically used to store frequently used data.

Server Message Block v3.0 (SMBv3) Enhancements

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers new enhancements to the SMBv3 protocol that offer major availability and performance improvements to support critical application services. These include transparent failover, SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel to offer better resiliency and performance.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Enhancements

New features in the R2 release help you take advantage of core platform capabilities, such as storage tiering and data deduplication, to improve performance, scale and solution economics. With the R2 release, Microsoft are also introducing the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, which provides easy access to corporate desktops and applications from Windows, Windows RT, iOS, OS X and Android devices.

Windows Server Essentials Experience

Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Datacenter editions include the new Windows Server Essentials Experience role, which offers the features and benefits previously only available through the Windows Server Essentials edition, such as Remote Web Access and client computer backups. Windows Server Essentials Experience provides a simple management dashboard that makes it easy to deploy, manage, and backup your employees¿ connected desktops and mobile devices.

Key capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2

Server virtualisation

Take advantage of the cost savings of virtualisation, and maximise server hardware investments by consolidating your servers as virtual machines on a single physical host. Hyper-V runs multiple operating systems including Windows, Linux, and others, in parallel, on a single server. Windows Server 2012 R2 extends Hyper-V¿s capabilities with additional features and industry-leading scalability for host processors and memory.


Whatever your storage platform, the data it holds is the bedrock of your business. Windows Server 2012 R2 helps you optimise your existing storage investments, such as SANs. It also lets you build scalable, high-performance, highly available storage solutions using industry-standard hardware and Windows Server 2012 R2. Windows Server 2012 R2 helps ensure your storage remains continuously available, so your services can be continuously available too.


You can manage an entire network as a single server, so you get the reliability and scalability of multiple servers at a lower cost. Automatic rerouting around storage, server, and network failures keeps file services online with minimal noticeable downtime. Together with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 can provide an end-to-end software defined networking solution across public, private and hybrid cloud implementations.

Server management and automation

Following a standards-based management approach, the Windows Management Framework provides a common platform for automation and integration to help you automate your routine tasks with tools like Windows PowerShell. Other improvements help simplify deployment, ensure that the components of your datacenters have the correct configuration, and enable you to take action to manage across multiple servers through a single relevant dashboard in Server Manager.

Web and application platform

Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on the tradition of the Windows Server family as a proven application platform, with thousands of applications already built and deployed and a community of millions of knowledgeable and skilled developers already in place. You can build and deploy applications either on-premises or in the cloud - or both at once, with hybrid solutions that work in both environments.

Access and information protection

With Microsoft's Access and Information Protection solutions, you can manage a single identity for each user, across both on-premises and cloud-based (SaaS) applications. You define a user¿s level of access to information and applications each user has to information and applications based on who they are, what they are accessing, and from which device - even applying multi-factor authentication. You can provide secure remote access to your mobile workers using the Windows Server Remote Access (RRAS) capabilities of DirectAccess and VPN (including automatic VPN connections) and enable your users to sync their work files from a corporate server to their devices. Also, you can manage mobile devices to remove corporate data and applications when a device is lost, stolen, or retired from use.

Virtual desktop infrastructure

With Windows Server 2012 R2, it's even easier to deploy and deliver virtual resources across devices. VDI technologies offer easy access to a rich, full-fidelity Windows environment running in the datacenter, from virtually any device. Through Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services, Microsoft offers three flexible VDI deployment options in a single solution: Pooled Desktops, Personal Desktops, and Remote Desktop Sessions.

Windows Server 2012 R2 - Standard and Datacenter Licensing

  • Two editions differentiated only by virtualisation rights ¿ two virtual instances for Standard edition and unlimited virtual instances for Datacenter edition.
  • A consistent processor-based licensing model that covers up to two physical processors on a server.
  • CALs are required either per user or per device. Some advanced functionality requires additive CALs e.g. Remote Desktop Services and Active Directory Rights Management Services.

Windows Server 2012 R2 - Essentials and Foundation Licensing

  • Server-based licensing model ¿ Foundation is for single processor servers and Essentials is for either one or two processor servers.
  • CALs not required for access ¿ Foundation comes with 15 user accounts and Essentials comes with 25 user accounts.
  • Foundation is available via OEM only.

For more information on licensing and to discuss your specific requirements, please contact us.

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

The Essentials edition is ideal for small business environments. It comes with a simple interface, pre-configured connectivity to cloud based services and no virtualisation rights.

The licensing model is per server (with a 25 user account limit), supporting up to two processors.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard

The Standard edition is ideal for low density or non-virtualised environments. It provides full Windows Server functionality with two virtual instances.

The licensing model is per processor (each licence covers 2 processors) with client access licences required for every user or device accessing a server.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter

The Datacenter edition is ideal for highly virtualised private and hybrid cloud environments. It provides full Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances.

The licensing model is per processor (each licence covers 2 processors) with client access licences required for every user or device accessing a server.

Minimum Requirements

  • Processor - 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor
  • RAM - 512 MB
  • Disk space - 32 GB.

Please Note: actual requirements will vary based on system configuration and applications and features chosen to be installed.

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