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blackone

Windows Server Client Access Licensing - a problem for game servers?

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blackone    456
I was just wondering exactly what this meant - seems like it can be read in different ways. If someone is running i.e. an mmorpg server on windows server 2008 - are the players (and their computers) considered users or devices that accesses or uses the windows server 2008 server software? Or are they only users of the mmorpg software? http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/client-licensing.aspx
Quote:
Every user or device that accesses or uses the Windows Server 2008 server software requires the purchase of a Windows Server 2008 Client Access License (Windows Server CAL) except under the following circumstances: If access to the instances of server software is only through the Internet without being authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means If access is to Windows Web Server 2008 If external users are accessing the instances of server software and you have acquired a Windows Server 2008 External Connector license for each server being accessed For up to two devices or users to access your instances of the server software only to administer those instances

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frob    44904
No, they aren't logging in to the server. The game is connecting to an application you have written.

They are not logging on to Windows, unless for some really stupid reason your game requires each player to have their own Windows login. In that case you would need licenses. You would also need to fire whoever made the decision.

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blackone    456
I was just worried about
Quote:
otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means

"any other means" would presumably include our own server...

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cbenoi1    484
Microsoft prices the licenses according to the number of PCs connected to it. Per-seat pricing is a common business model in the IT industry. They are simply adding legal lingo to make sure you are not adding more terminals without paying for licenses.

> If access to the instances of server software is only
> through the Internet without being authenticated

Your users are not going to login to the server through the NT Login service, but rather through a proprietary socket-based communication protocol. For all intent and purposes, it's a web server, but without the HTTP protocol and using another socket than TCP/IP # 80. In the lingo above, your users will not be 'authenticated' in the NT Login sense.

-cb

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blackone    456
I don't think it's that simple... If you read my last post carefully then you'll probably agree that it doesn't matter if they're NT users or not - "otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means" is so loosely phrased that it would cover any form of login.
External Connector licenses are not for adding seats - you can't use it for anyone inside your organisation. There is also a reason why Web Server 2008 have unlimited external connections.

So the big question here is if they're accessing or using the "server software". I only have the CAL FAQ, not the exact wording of the license but I seem to remember that even tiered users are considered users.

I also posted this question in Microsoft forums - a Microsoft employee replied but I guess he didn't want to risk answering but instead gave me a phone number to call.
I sent an email to Microsoft Denmark - I'll get back here if/when I get a reply that will clarify the situation.

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Rattenhirn    3114
You know, if it worries you so much, you could just use an OS that has less restrictive licensing terms or is completely free.

I doubt that you'll really need a feature that only Windows Server 2008 provides...

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blackone    456
Well... the only thing that makes me really want to use Windows Server is the .NET runtime environment.
There are of course other options if running a 'nix box instead - like Mono, or considering another language/platform like Java or perhaps C++. Hey even if Mono or Java is slower than Microsoft .NET just the money saved on licenses could buy some pretty hefty hardware...
I don't think Linux has IOCP though?

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Rattenhirn    3114
Quote:
Original post by blackone
Well... the only thing that makes me really want to use Windows Server is the .NET runtime environment.
There are of course other options if running a 'nix box instead - like Mono, or considering another language/platform like Java or perhaps C++. Hey even if Mono or Java is slower than Microsoft .NET just the money saved on licenses could buy some pretty hefty hardware...


A lot of things to consider. ;)

Quote:
Original post by blackoneI don't think Linux has IOCP though?


IOCP is a Windows thing. There may be alternatives on other OSs tough.

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Codeka    1239
If you've already got Windows installed, the EULA is copied to C:\Windows\System32\eula.txt.

Looking in my install of Windows Server 2003, it's got the following clause:

Quote:

You do not need CALs for any user or device that accesses your instances of the server software only through the Internet without being authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software.


If you look at the top of the file, it's got a "definitions" section and in this case "server software" clearly refers directly to Windows itself, not to any software you happen to run on windows.

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cbenoi1    484
> you'll probably agree that it doesn't matter if they're NT users or not

I don't agree. Authentication in the Windows sense is completely different than what you are doing. You users won't have NT accounts on the server.

> "otherwise individually identified by the server software
> or through any other means" is so loosely phrased that it
> would cover any form of login.

The way I read it goes like this: "You DON'T need a CAL license if connections to the server is made through the Internet without going through the NT authentication mechanism". That leaves the door opened for any sort of custom applications that have their own mechanisms for identifying inbound socket connections.

-cb


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blackone    456
I got a reply back from Microsoft, saying it looks like I need the external connector license for my scenario...

Quote:
If what the OP is worried about was true, wouldn't that mean any server running a web-service would consider every user needing a license, which could run into millions!

Or a web forum... If access is "authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means" - that's what the $2000 external connector license is for - unlimited number of external connections. That's also why they offer the Windows Web Server that doesn't need cals or external connector licenses for authenticated access through the internet. You're not allowed to run an MMORPG server on Windows Web Server though :)

Quote:
Original post by cbenoi1
> you'll probably agree that it doesn't matter if they're NT users or not

I don't agree. Authentication in the Windows sense is completely different than what you are doing. You users won't have NT accounts on the server.

> "otherwise individually identified by the server software
> or through any other means" is so loosely phrased that it
> would cover any form of login.

The way I read it goes like this: "You DON'T need a CAL license if connections to the server is made through the Internet without going through the NT authentication mechanism". That leaves the door opened for any sort of custom applications that have their own mechanisms for identifying inbound socket connections.

-cb


That's also what I would like to think, but I just can't see how in any way how "identified by any other means" would only apply to NT authentications.

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