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MS enforces Win2k TS licensing via Web ‘Clearinghouse’

Makes sure Terminal Services users have all paid the licence fee

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A new, largely unnoticed feature of Windows 2000 takes control of client licensing out of the hands of network administrators, and transfers it to Microsoft. The new system only applies to client licensing within Terminal Services for Windows 2000, but as Microsoft gets deeper into the application rental/services business, it provides a glimpse of the shape of Microsoft licensing to come. Terminal Services for Win2k includes Terminal Services License Management (TSLM), which is a mechanism for ensuring that any device initiating a Win2k Terminal Services session has a Win2k licence or a CAL (Client Access License). This is the case for non-Microsoft clients as well as for Microsoft ones. As Microsoft puts it, prior to Win2k "management and assignment of CALs was left up to the system administrator, which led to the difficult problem of tracking purchased CALs against deployed devices." Microsoft is therefore making it easier for administrators by relieving them of this irksome burden, and automating it through the grandly-titled Microsoft Certificate Authority & License Clearinghouse. We can't help noting, however, that system administrators still have to deal with CAL-tracking in non-Terminal Services scenarios - for now? It works like this. Win2k Terminal Services uses a licensing wizard to access the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse can also be contacted via the Internet, by fax or by phone. Says Microsoft: "The Clearinghouse stores information about all activated licence servers and client licence key packs that have been issued, manages authentication, and validates purchased CALs." It works with a licence server, which is a server with Terminal Services Licensing enabled, at the customer end. This stores and tracks issued licences. The impact of the licence server on the network is described as "minimal," but although it can co-reside on the Terminal server, "In most large systems, the licence server will be deployed on a separate server." Although this system currently applies only to Terminal Services for Win2k, Microsoft is moving in a similar direction with its new licensing model for Win2k server in general. Citing customer demand, Microsoft says it has simplified the Win2k CAL system by "creating a new licensing model based on authenticated use." This is intended to produce licences "that recognise the move towards Web-based applications and services." And it's also Microsoft-speak for maximising the number of clients that have to pay up in order to use Microsoft network services. Microsoft puts forward two scenarios where customers may have to buy more CALs than they needed under NT 4.0. Customers whose applications use Win2k authentication or directory credentials will need CALs for them, while Internet sites using Win2k authentication will also need CALs. This does not apply to vanilla Web servers - access to Internet sites by anonymous users does not require a CAL. As an alternative to buying individual CALs for Internet sites using Win2k authentication, Microsoft has also introduced an Internet Connector licence. This allows unlimited numbers of authenticated users to access a single Win2k server, costs $1,999, and you need one for each server accessed. It should not be confused with the existing Internet Connector licence for Terminal Server, which allows 200 concurrent connections to Terminal Server via "anonymous connections from non-employees." ®

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