In the new license definition in SharePoint 2013, it is mentioned that there are no more license prices for external users or when building external facing website or portal. But still I cannot understand how to differ between internal & external users for SharePoint. Are these terms pure legal terms or they are related to the functions and feature the user will be using inside the SharePoint application.

Best Regards

2 Answers 2


There is no setting in SharePoint where you would define which user (or how many) is internal (using CAL) or which one is external (without CAL). You pay for the internal user CALs, and externals come "for free".

So, you could put up a internet site with SharePoint and only purchase CALs for internal content producers. Usually companies do also have SharePoint intranet/other services on SharePoint, so they'd have CALs anyway.

You do also need Windows Server + SQL Server licenses, and Windows Server External Connector license. Some examples here.

In SharePoint you would differentiate internal and external users by using Zones. users coming through http://ext.company.com would be external users and belong to "Extranet" zone, while internals would come through http://int.company.com and belong to "Intranet" Zone.

Disclaimer: You need to verify these from a license reseller, your scenario might have special conditions.

  • 2
    upvoted, but keep in mind that external users should be completely "external" to the company to be entitled for the free license. If they are collaborators or binded to the company in some way, they need to have their own license like internal users. It's more for scenario like external communities or external partner site (which will have unknown users that are not part of the current company) that this "come for free" applies :) Feb 25, 2013 at 16:00
  • are you talking about "external users" in this case as a legal term or as a technical term, can you explain ?
    – John Peter
    Feb 27, 2013 at 10:11
  • In legal terms "External user" must not be a paid employee of the company. Technically there is no relevance, I would say. User may sit wherever.
    – Jussi Palo
    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:57

With SharePoint 2013, cost of external users has been priced into the Server licence and the external connector has done away with.

Please refer Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Volume Licencing brief that very well explains the difference between external users and internal users and all the scenarios: http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/licensing/about-licensing/briefs/SharepointServer2013.aspx

Basically, Internal Users are the licensee’s or its affiliates’ employees and on-site agents and contractors and External Users are the users who are not the licensee’s or its affiliates’ employees or on-site agents or contractors.

Please note that Microsoft has a trust based licencing and the implementer has to ensure that they comply to the definitions.

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