RDS 2016 & 2019 in a Workgroup or With Active Directory – Licensing Failure

** Update 10/4/2018 –  I just tested out RDS installation on Server 2019 in workgroup mode and the same configuration issues will be experienced and the process below will get you through it.  -Scott **

Ok, so if you are here – you already know this is not a recommended configuration for Remote Desktop Services, but you want to do it anyway.  With my experience in Technical Support with a now very large computer company, your odds of succeeding in this endeavor if things go wrong are about 50/50, but let’s get you some info to assist and get you the best odds of winning.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is designed to be in a Microsoft Active Directory integrated environment, meaning there is a writable DNS server in the environment and an AD User/Service database to pull environment information from.  Along with the needed AD pieces, there is also the issue of the RD Connection Broker service won’t install, due to the lack of permissions – which means you do not have an RD Management interface with which you can configure your RD environment.  So given these fail points, without taking other steps you will wind up with an RD environment that cannot be accessed due to RD Licensing configuration failure (yeah, you do need RD licenses, too).

Here’s what you will see in EventViewer:System logs:

And when you go to RD Licensing Diagnoser, you’ll see this:

Licensing mode for RDS Host server is not configured resized 600

And looking in RD Overview in Server Manager, you get:


Since you don’t have the GUI to work with to configure RD Licensing with, we’re going to have to go about this differently.

** Also, if you installed RDS on a system with Active Directory installed, you may, or may not, get the Overview GUI installed on your server (error pic above).  Even if you do have the GUI installed in this scenario – it’s almost a 100% chance that the Licensing Configuration through the GUI will not work.  The tweeks below work to fix RD Licensing for both Workgroup and AD scenarios.

Open up Regedit and navigate to: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsNT\TerminalServices

You’ll need to add two keys:

  • LicenseServers  (string value), with a value of your FQDN of the License Server instance.  One option instead of using a FQDN is just use “localhost” or “” to point the RDS instance to look on the workgroup server for the RD Licensing Instance (as long as RD Licensing is on the same workgroup system).
    • **edited/added the loopback IP address here 2/6/19**
  • LicensingMode  (32-bit DWord), with one of 2 values:  2 – for Per Device mode  or 4 – for Per User mode

Once you have those set, restart the RD Licensing Service and RD Session Host Service and then re-run the RD License Diagnoser – it should run clean now.

** Other important note here…  An RD Licensing instance can handle Per User and Per Device licenses and hand them out with no problem to multiple RD Session Hosts, but a single RD Session Host can only ask for 1 type of RD License – either Per User or Per Device.  This is a common issue where Per User licenses are purchased and installed, but the Default licensing mode configuration for RDSH is “Per Device”.  So, RD will hit your RD license host and ask for a Per Device licenses, which it doesn’t have.  Changing the licensing mode to “Per User” fixes the issue.

Good lucks out there!  Comments??