Oct
21
2008

How to Fix the Remote Desktop Licensing Error

For some reason MS Remote Desktop refuses to work intermittently.  Every 90 days, to be precise.  Like clockwork.[1]

Among the myriad of incompatibilities between Microsoft’s various products and operating systems is the mind bending error thrown by Remote Desktop.  Remote Desktop should work between any version of Windows starting with XP.  Even when using full versions of MS operating systems, you will likely still get this error:

The remote computer disconnected the session because of an error in licensing protocol.

89 days and counting...

89 days and counting...

There are two reasonable ways around this.

  • First, if you’re not an advanced Windows user, you should really try TightVNC.  Its small, free, open source, uses very little bandwidth, and is easy to install and use.  It will do probably 90% of everything Remote Desktop will do.  As a bonus, you won’t have to monkey with it every 90 days.
  • Second, if you are an advanced Windows user and are comfortable using Regedit, there is another option.  If you’ve never heard of Regedit, you really really should not use this option.  If your Windows registry settings get fouled up, and it is incredibly easy to do, you can kiss your Windows install goodbye.  In any case, the solution is to go to, “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSLicensing” and delete everything under that heading.  The only downside is that this must be performed every 90 days.

FYI, this second ridiculous work around is from the official MicroSoft website!  You’d think that if your product stopped working every 90 days you’d, you know, try to fix it.  Instead their game plan is to actually suggest users delete vital parts of the operating system.

For what its worth, I use a combination of the two solutions.  I fire up Regedit every 90 days so I can use Remote Desktop and I use TightVNC when I can.

  1. Photo courtesy of Laffy4k []

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