How to Install SBS 2011 CALS


You Don’t!

Since SBS 2008 CALS are now based on Microsoft’s honour system, and they are no longer ‘installed’ and ‘activated’ when you buy them.

You just purchase the number of CALS you need, and keep them safe.

Small Business Server 2011 Standard, still ships with 5 CALs.

Even better, with SBS 2011 Essentials, there are no CALS to purchase. SBS Essentials, is a one off purchase. If you buy it today and have 4 users, you pay the same price as someone who has 10 users, or someone who has 25 users.

So, for Essentials think ‘all 25 CALS included’

(although on a technical licensing point of law, political correctness’ and outright Microsoft craziness – there is no such thing as a SBS Essentials CAL)

The Essentials OS is licensed for up to 25 users, but those ‘licenses’ are included in the fee you pay to purchase the software.

I know, i can see some of you at the back sneaking up your hands to ask..

“…i only have X amount of users, can i get a discount…”

No. Don’t be so cheap Smile with tongue out

Because of the unique way Essentials is ‘licensed’ those invisible CALs only allow you to access the Essentials box itself, so unlike it’s big brother, SBS Standard, if you purchase a standalone member server (not a PAO Server) you must also buy full Windows Server CALs. SBS Standard has a more traditional CAL model, so SBS Standard CALs grant access to ANY member server, regardless of whether it is a PAO or not.

SBS 2011 CAL








An SBS 2011 CAL

SBS 2011 Premium Add-on (PAO)


With the Premium Add-on (PAO, or Kung PAO as Susan Bradley calls it) Licensing is the same, whether you are adding the PAO to Essentials or Standard (The PAO is available to both SBS Standard & Essentials)

When you purchase the PAO, it includes 5 PAO CALS which allows those 5 Clients to access the SQL Services of the PAO Server. (The SQL services are sometimes called the Premium Services)

If you don’t install the SQL component, then you don’t need to purchase any additional PAO CALS.

The CALS for SBS 2011 Standard or Essentials, allow you to access the Windows Server technologies of the PAO server, as long as you are not accessing the ‘Premium’ services, so you could install it as File and Print, Domain Controller, RDS Server etc., and you would not need any additional PAO CALS, or Standard CALS."

Just to add another level of complexity, if you did install the PAO server as an RDS Server, you would need to purchase RDS CALS.


Well i hope you were taking notes because we now have a short test!

Licensing Examples

Scenario 1.

I have Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, 10 Users all requiring access to SQL Services.

What components/licensing do i need?

Scenario 2.

I have Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, 10 Users, 1 NON PAO Member Server.

What components/licensing do i need?

Scenario 3.

Windows SBS 2011 Standard, 10 Users (Total), 5 Users Require access to SQL

What components/licensing do i need?

Scenario 4.

I have Windows SBS 2011 Standard, 10 Users, 1 NON PAO Member Server,

What components/licensing do i need?


Scenario 1.

In this scenario you would have 1x Windows SBS 2011 Essentials Server, 1x PAO Server, and need to purchase 5 PAO CALs.

Scenario 2.

In this scenario you would have 1x Windows SBS 2011 Essentials Server, 1 Windows Server OS License (required for member server) and 10 Windows Server CALs

Scenario 3.

In this scenario you would have 1x Windows SBS 2011 Standard, 1x PAO Server and you would not need any additional PAO CALs

Scenario 4.

In this scenario you would have 1x Windows SBS 2011 Standard, 1x Windows Server OS License (required for member server) You would need to purchase an additional 5 SBS CALs

Thanks to Michael Leworthy of Microsoft for clarification on licensing points.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

24 Responses to How to Install SBS 2011 CALS

  1. Paulo Resende says:

    Scenario 5.

    In this scenario I have 1x Windows SBS 2011 Standard, 35 user that log on to this Domain/Server and use it for file sharing. Do I need additional SBS CALs???

  2. Simon says:

    So, if I understand this correctly, If I install SBS 2011 then I can have more than 5 users on the network and accessing the server (Exchange, file-sharing, CRM etc) without any issues at all. The problem is that, unless I purchase the additional CALs, we will be in breach of MS licensing although there will be absolutely no impact on the day-to-day use of the server?
    I’m not asking you to advocate anything illegal in answering this, just want to understand if we can go live without any form of artificial ‘time-limit’ while I wait for my company to purchase the CALs?

    • Hi Simon,

      Yes you are correct. You are able to go live without any limitations. However legally speaking you are not permitted to use the software until you are correctly licensed. I would also say, as there is nothing to install – and if you are purchasing the licenses anyway, why not order them at the same time?

  3. Lew says:

    Thanks for this great information, which is now added to my ever-growing list of critical Microsoft information that I didn’t get directly from Microsoft (even though I looked pretty hard).

    One more scenario: what if you have 2011 SBS Essentials and the network grows beyond 25 users?

    • At that point you just buy a new system. There is no upgrade or transition from Essentials to any other product. It’s actually the same with Standard, hit that 75 user limit, and you start over.

      It’s one of the reasons i think Essentials is priced the way it is.

  4. Steve says:

    Thanks for your excellent information on SBS 2011 licensing. Would you mind having a quick look at my licensing scenario, which involves licensing SBS 2011 Premium as an addon to a SBS 2008 domain.

    We currently have a SBS Premium 2008, running at one site with 20 additional premium CALs. We have 25 users at this site, with about 5 of these using sql, so we are a bit over licensed for premium.

    We have acquired a company running SBS 2003 premium, with 20 additional Premium CALs. They have 20 users, and all of them need direct SQL access. The 2003 server is now ageing and needs replacing. I would like to replace this with SBS 2011 Premium addon, joined to the 2008 SBS domain as an additional DC. We would link the physical sites via VPN.

    According to what i have read you can now add a SBS2011 Premium server into a 2008 premium domain and use this as an additional DC.
    and the SBS 2011 Premium Add-on Datasheet from here:

    Assuming this is all possible, what additional SBS 2008/2011 Premium/Standard CALs would I need to purchase?

    I am thinking we would need additional SBS 2008 standard cals for the 20 users at the aquired site, and 20 Premium 2011 CALs for the same users.

    Thanks for any input, I am struggling to find much information, around branch setups like this.

  5. Steve says:

    Thanks for this you have been a great help.
    I will budget for the 20 SBS 2011 CALs, and 20 PAO CALs, and contact Microsoft before actually purchasing.

  6. Mitul Mehra says:

    I have a SBS2011 (Standard version) DC & a W2008Enterprise (member server). I want to get Remote access for users to the SBS2011 Server. I have 20 Usercals for TS (RetailPack) installed on the 2008 Server, and a 5 UserCal open license Retail Pack on SBS2011. I still cannot get Remote Access for users, even though this meets the requirements mentioned in the SBS2011 Licensing FAQs. On the SBS2011 it says – “The RdS Host session is within its grace period, but the Rd Host session has not been configured with any license servers.” The Licensing Server on the SBS2011 shows the server as configured & working fine.

    Do I neeD to install the RDS licenses on the 2008Server anD remove it from SBS2011, as the above is not working

  7. Tim Martin says:

    Thanks for a great explanation…do the CALs cover remote access? In my instance I’m running 2011 Standard with ~20 users (& 15 computers) and PAO with SQL. Approximately 12 of my 20 users will need to access the SQL server remotely. Do I need to acquire Remote Desktop (formerly TS) CALs? Or is a CAL a CAL?

    • I dont think it is reccomended to use SQL and RDS on the same Server.

      But in any case, to use RDS (Terminal Services) yes you need to purchase RDS CALs.

      • Tim Martin says:

        Right – I’m just working with what I have. ;-)
        Are RDS CALs treated in the same fashion as SBS CALs, meaning that I should purchase them, but there’s not an installation ‘function’ to them…or do you know/recall?

  8. Great info. I love all the posts, I really enjoyed

  9. Remy says:

    I have another scenario, I have 1 SBS 2011 Standard with 35 Cals.
    I will need next year to install 40 more cals, Can I do this?
    Totaling 75 Cals,


  10. John says:

    Hello, Bit of an old post but here goes. I have 10 CALS for SBS 2011 std. However I have more then 10 mailboxes in my exchange server(not users). How do I license the extra mailboxes? Is 1 SBS 2011 CAL valid for all the standard services of the server? So I have 10 CALS for user access that includes the mailbox on the server?

    • Are they generic mailboxes accessed by the normal 10 users, or are they 10 additional mailboxes accessed by other people? The way I ‘do’ it, is 1 person is 1 cal, no matter how many mailboxes or things that person may use.

      • john says:

        Thx for your anwser. Yes they are generic mailboxes used bij the 10 employees. If I read your message right I only need 1 CAL per user. It does not matter how many mailboxes that user wil have access to? So I can have 10 users. All those users have an personal mailbox but they also have access to generic mailboxes like I do not need a license for that mailbox? As of now I have 10 users but almost 40 mailboxes for different purposes. So as long that I have 10 Cals for the 10 users I am in the clear?

      • Yes that is my understanding.

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