Microsoft 2013 Lync Licensing Guide


In February 2013, Microsoft provide additional guidance to commercial licensing of Lync 2013.

  • This article will provide a brief overview of Lync 2013 Volume Licensing and Cloud Service Plans
  • This article is not intended to replace the Product Use Rights or Product List
  • Please be aware that any licensing information could be subject to change. This article confers no rights and is provided for information purposes only.

Volume Licensing

Server SKU Consolidation

Lync Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition Server 2013 have been consolidated into a single edition across all on-premise deployment types.


Organisations who purchased and maintain active Software Assurance (SA) with Lync Server Standard Edition OR Lync Server  Enterprise Edition will receive rights to Lync Server 2013

Client Access Licenses (CALs)

Microsoft have maintained the CAL (Client Access License) licensing metric on a Per User or Per Device model

Access to premium functionality features, are determined by adoption of a ‘base’ Standard CAL and then an ‘additive’ Enterprise CAL and Plus CAL

Enterprise CAL and Plus CAL are supplemental to the Standard CAL; allowing organisations to choose to add the Enterprise CAL feature set, the Plus CAL feature set, or adopt both, in addition to the Standard CAL. 

Microsoft have also extended presence display, IM and audio/video communications with Skype Users. This is available in all CALs and Online Use Subscription Plans.


Standard CAL

The Lync Server 2013 Standard CAL offers IM (Instant Messaging) and Presence, as well as PC-PC audio and video communication. Importantly, this does support authenticated attendee access to internal Lync Meetings.

Notably, Microsoft have broadened the Standard CAL to include an “Attendee and Presenter Experience”. Users with a Lync Standard CAL can attend meetings and then be promoted to presenter in conferences initiated by an Lync Enterprise CAL user.

Please be aware that a User would require the additive Enterprise CAL to initiate or schedule conferences for their organisation.

Enterprise CAL

The Lync Server 2013 Enterprise CAL provides users the ability to Initiate and Schedule multi-party Lync Meetings.

  • Lync Room Systems in Enterprise CAL
  • Lync Multi-view Video in Enterprise CAL
    • Lync Server 2013  introduces a new Gallery View feature allowing for up to five active video streams (plus your own) to be displayed at one time.

Plus CAL

The Lync Server 2013 Plus CAL offers enterprise voice capabilities that can enhance or replace traditional PBX systems. These capabilities include:

  • Initiate an ad hoc multi-party meeting with audio and video
    • This includes dial-out to PSTN or PBX Users
    • This is also included in Lync Enterprise CAL
  • UC and PBX Call Control
  • Visual Access to Voicemail
  • Define Routing Rules
  • Delegation

[Ref: Lync Licensing Guide]

An overview of the current product components of the Microsoft CAL Suites is available in this article.

Requirements for a CAL

“The Standard CAL is the base CAL and required for all authenticated internal users accessing Lync Server functions.”

[Ref: Lync Licensing Guide, February 2013]

Microsoft define “authenticated” as a user or device who has an identity in the Active Directory Domain Services or Lync Server.

“An unauthenticated, or anonymous, user is a person or device that does not have an identity in the Active Directory Domain Services or Lync Server.

[…] an anonymous user is not authenticated. With the Lync 2010 Attendee client, unauthenticated users can a join Microsoft Lync Server 2013 hosted meeting. There are no required licenses for unauthenticated users of Lync Server 2013”

[Ref: Lync Licensing Guide, February 2013]

This is also defined in the Product Use Rights,

“You do not need CALs for any user or device that accesses your Instances of the server software without being directly or indirectly authenticated by Active Directory or Lync Server.”

[Ref: Product Use Rights, January 2013, Page 35 of 116]

Licensing External Users

Microsoft, have now removed the External Connector for Lync. [Ref: Product Use Rights, January 2013, Page 34 or 116]

Microsoft have now clarified that external users to the organisation are now incorporated within the Server licensing model, defined as “Licensed with Server”. This removes both the External Connector licence and the CAL requirement for external users;  “An unlimited number of authenticated external users may access a Lync Server 2013 in scenarios where the number of CALs is uncertain”.

As always, vendor definitions are important when determining licensing requirements, and under this criteria, an external user is defined as “typically not an employee and not defined in the [Volume] agreement”.

[Ref: Lync Licensing Guide, February 2013, Page 8 of 24]

Upon review of the Product Use Rights the definition of External User “means users that are not either your or your affiliates’ employees, or your or your affiliates’ onsite contractors or onsite agents”.

[Ref: Product Use Rights, January 2013, Page 8 of 116]

As always, it is recommended to refer to your specific contract(s), the Product Use Rights and Product List as source documentation in determining licensing requirements. The licensing guides,while useful information resources, are not binding documents.

Lync Federation

Importantly, this has been defined for organisation’s that are adopting Lync Federation. (As an example, SoftwareONE UK is Lync federated with Microsoft UK)

“A federated user is an external user that possesses valid credentials with a federated external Lync deployment and is authenticated on that basis by Lync Server 2013. Federation is a feature provided with the licenses of Lync Server 2013. Users connected by federation with another Lync deployment do not require a CAL as the federated party will already own the appropriate number of licenses.”

[Ref: Lync Licensing Guide, February 2013, Page 7 of 24]

Introduction of ‘Basic’ Lync Client

Microsoft continue to enable access to Lync via Client Software. This has now been extended via the provision of a  Lync Basic 2013 Client aimed at organisations with Lync Online or Core CAL.

The ‘feature rich’ version of the Client continue to be available  for purchase stand-alone and as a component within Office Pro Plus 2013.

Lync Basic 2013 provides access to ‘basic’ functionality in Lync Server 2013 (omitted 2013 functionality detailed below)

  • Gallery video view
  • Calendar delegation
  • OneNote sharing
  • Recording
  • Skill search (not available with Office 365)
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (not available with Office 365)
  • Advanced call features [Not available in O365 Subscriptions]

If a User signs into Lync Server 2010 with the  Lync Basic 2013  client, functionality would be limited to Lync Server 2010 (minus the omitted functionality in the list above).

The 32bit and 64bit Lync Basic Clients are publicly for download at the Microsoft Download Centre.

Lync Software is available for download from the SoftwareONE Lifecycle Portal for organisation’s that use SoftwareONE as their software management partner.

Microsoft will continue to provide access to Lync Mobile Clients for access from Windows Phone, iOS, Android and Symbian devices.

Ref: The Microsoft TechNet Team have provided a useful Lync Mobile Client Comparison Table 

When external webinar conference attendees access a Lync web conference, and don’t have a Lync Client installed on their accessing device – Lync will enable access through a WebApp Client

Ref: There is a list of supported OS platforms and Web browsers for 2010 are available for reference here and 2013 here 

Product Licensing Dependencies

The Microsoft Product Stack continues to be an integrated platform often leveraging other Microsoft core server technologies.

Microsoft Office and Lync Client can be thought of as a “traffic light” that are turned on via activation of the Microsoft Server technologies:

Licensing for the modern end user computing is complex and entirely dependent on the specifics for your organisation, and final technology choices. In the current economic climate, it has never been so important to minimise unnecessary spend.

Accordingly it is recommended to work pro-actively with a global licensing expert to get a holistic view of requirements. Working with a trusted advisor to evaluate both strategic technology decisions and software license procurement strategy.

Lync Plus Grandfathering Policy

Upon the release of new functionality within a Product that requires a new extended licensing mechanism, Microsoft look to support existing relational customers (those with active Software Assurance (SA)) with a logical transition policy or licence grant.

Customers who have purchased Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Enterprise CAL or ECAL Suite and have maintained active Software Assurance (SA) will benefit from one of the two following entitlementsimage

  • ECAL Suite with Active Software Assurance (SA) prior to June 30th 2009:
    • Entitlement: Lync 2010 Plus CAL, Lync 2013 Plus CAL
    • Renewal: 1st Renewal Point after release of Lync 2013
  • ECAL Suite with Active Software Assurance (SA) after June 30th 2009 and before Lync 2010 General Availability (GA)
    • Entitlement: Lync 2010 Plus CAL
    • Renewal: 1st Renewal Point after release of Lync 2013
  • When is the cut off point for ‘Grandfathering Rights’ for Plus CAL?
    • Your organisation must be enrolled in active Software Assurance (SA)for the OCS Enterprise CAL or the ECAL Suite before December 1, 2010 in order to be eligible for the Lync Server 2010 Grandfathering Policy.
  • “Do I need a Lync Enterprise CAL to buy Plus CAL?”
    • No. The Lync Server Enterprise CAL and the Lync Server Plus CAL are each additive licenses for the Lync Server Standard CAL; the Enterprise CAL is not a prerequisite for the Plus CAL


  • The source documentation for the Lync Grandfathering Rights Policy is the Microsoft Product List and should be the primary reference.
  • For a bespoke review of Lync, evaluating Migration Path, Use Rights and SA (Maintenance) Coverage and True Up reporting requirements please engage with SoftwareONE who will be able to benchmark and evaluate your current license & maintenance footprint, Subscription(s), and managed contract portfolio.

Lync Cloud Service Plans (O365)

For reference purposes, please see a ‘snapshot’ of the Lync functionality sets across CALs and Online Service Plans.


  • Lync Room Systems in Lync Plans 2 + 3
  • Lync Multi-view Video in Lync Plans 2 + 3
    • Lync Server 2013  introduces a new Gallery View feature allowing for up to five active video streams (plus your own) to be displayed at one time.
  • Lync-to-Phone (PSTN access) in Lync Plan 3
  • Microsoft have extended presence display, IM and audio/video communications with Skype Users. This is available in all CALs and Online Use Subscription Plans (see below)image
  • Useful link Ref: Lync Online Service Description
  • Useful link Ref: Clients for Lync Online
  • The Microsoft TechNet team have provided useful Client Comparison Tables.

Further Resources

If you would like to book a Licensing Workshop,  please drop me an email or connect with me on Twitter


This website is a way to give back to the licensing community and as an information resource for all customers that work with Microsoft software and licensing. I hope you find it of value.

Tony Mackelworth is a Senior Licensing Expert at SoftwareONE

Tony lives with his wife in Oxford, England.

5 thoughts on “Microsoft 2013 Lync Licensing Guide

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  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the amazing article!

    One question, if a user on LyncBasic 2013 starts a new chat room and invites a number of people then shares their screen is this covered under the Standard CAL?


    • Lync Basic Client is about avoiding the cost of the Full Client (or Office Pro Plus), I’d expect you’d need a Standard CAL to use Standard Functionality of Lync Server.

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