Terminal Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 becomes Remote Desktop Services, What's New?

Posted by bink on November 3 2008, 8:00 PM. Posted in Windows Server 2008, Windows 2008 R2.

Two weeks ago I had a press briefing on Windows Server 2008 R2, one of the great new changes are on the Terminal Services side and from now to be called: Remote Desktop Services.


Windows Server 2008R2 considerably improves the set of tools to accelerate and extend desktop and application deployments to any device. In addition to the traditional presentation virtualization scenario, which Terminal Services has enabled for many years, this new version of the operating system will expand its role to provide an extensible platform for a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, also known as VDI. VDI is a centralized desktop delivery architecture which allows customers to centralize the storage, execution and management of a Windows desktop in the data center. It enables Windows Vista Enterprise and other desktop environments to run and be managed in virtual machines on a centralized server.

Increasingly businesses aim to enable their employees and contractors to work from home or from an offshore, outsourced facility. These new work environments provide better flexibility, cost control and lower environmental footprint but increase demand for security and compliance so that precious Corporate data is not at risk.

Key benefits of Microsoft centralized desktop strategy include better enablement of such flexible work scenarios such as work from home and hot-desking, increased data security and compliance, as well as easy and efficient management of the desktop OS and applications.

In the spirit of this extension, the Terminal Services role will be renamed to “Remote Desktop Services” in Windows Server 2008 R2. This new name will cover both the presentation virtualization and VDI functionalities. All the existing sub-roles will also be renamed consistently with the new Remote Desktop umbrella name.

Microsoft is also announcing great progress in improving user experience through new Remote Desktop Protocol capabilities. These new capabilities, enabled with Windows Server 2008 R2 in combination with Windows7 Enterprise Edition and Ultimate Edition, improve significantly the experience of remote users, making it more similar to the experience enjoyed by users accessing local computing resources.

With this release, Microsoft is progressing in its vision to provide the best platform for any deployment where desktops and applications are hosted in the datacenter provided to remote users, enabling all major architecture. Presentation Virtualization and VDI are complementary in this vision and both architectures build on the solid infrastructure introduced with Windows Server 2008, which include RemoteApp, Remote Desktop Web Access, Remote Desktop Gateway and Remote Desktop Connection Broker as the most notable new features. We are extending our platform allowing our partners, which include Citrix, Unisys, HP, Quest, Ericom and several others, to leverage new extensibility points for value-add solutions.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which separate where the desktop or application is used from where it is run, accelerates desktop & application deployments and enables any client to run any application or operating system. RDS enables a full fidelity desktop or application experience and efficiently connects remote workers from managed or unmanaged devices. RDS helps to keep critical intellectual property secure and to radically Simplify regulatory compliance by removing applications and data from the desktop.

Renaming of Terminal Services to Remote Desktop Services. All the existing sub-roles will also be renamed consistently with the new Remote Desktop umbrella name. Some examples of renaming are below:

  • Terminal Services →Remote Desktop Services
  • Terminal Services RemoteApp™→RemoteApp™
  • Terminal Services CAL→ Remote Desktop Services CAL
  • Terminal Services Web Access → Remote Desktop Web Access
  • Terminal Services Gateway→ Remote Desktop Gateway
  • Terminal Services Session Broker→ Remote Desktop Connection Broker

Extending Remote Desktop Services to provide tools to enable a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The in-box Remote Desktop Services capability is targeted at low-complexity deployments and as a platform for partner solutions, which can extend scalability and manageability to address the needs of more demanding enterprise deployments. Combined with Microsoft Hyper-V Server, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, App-V within MDOP, and VECD licensing, Microsoft provides a complete end to end VDI solution.

The elements of the Remote Desktop Services solutions are:

  • A connection broker infrastructure, which extends the Session Broker capabilities already found in Windows Server 2008, and creates a unified admin experience for traditional session-based remote desktops and (new) virtual machine-based remote desktops. The two key deployment scenarios supported by the Remote Desktop Connection Broker are persistent (permanent) VMs and pooled VMs. In the case of a persistent VM, there is a one-to-one mapping of VMs to users; each user is assigned a dedicated VM which can be personalized and customized, and which preserves any changes made by the user. Today, most early adopters of VDI deploy persistent VMs as they provide the greatest flexibility to the end user. In the case of a pooled VM, a single image is replicated as needed for users; user state can be stored via profiles and folder redirection, but will not persist on the VM once the user logs off. In either case, the in-box solution supports storage of the image(s) on the Hyper-V host.
  • The Remote Desktop Connection Broker has been designed as an extensible platform for partners; it includes extensive APIs for partner value-add around manageability and scalability of the brokering solution. Specifically, extensibility points include the ability for partners to create policy plug-ins (e.g. for determining the appropriate VM or VM pool), filter plug-ins (e.g. for preparing a VM to accept RDP connections) and resource plug-ins (e.g. for placing a VM on the proper host based on the host’s load).

Improving User Experience through new Remote Desktop Protocol capabilities. These new capabilities, enabled with Windows Server 2008 R2 in combination with Windows7 Enterprise Edition and Ultimate Edition, improve significantly the experience of remote users, making it more similar to the experience enjoyed by users accessing local computing resources. These improvements include:

  • Multimedia Redirection – Provides high quality multimedia by redirecting multimedia files and  streams so that audio and video content is sent in its original format from the server to the client and rendered using the clients local media playback capabilities.
  • True multiple monitor support – enables support for upto 10 monitors in almost  size, resolution or layout with RemoteApp and Remote desktop; applications will behave just like they do when running locally.
  • Audio Input & Recording -  Supports any microphone connected to users local machine, enables audio recording support for RemoteApp and Remote Desktop, great for VoIP scenarios & enables speech recognition for Remote Desktop Services.
  • Aero Glass support - provides users with the ability to use AeroGlass for  Remote Desktop Server; ensuring that remote desktop sessions look and feel like local desktop sessions
  • Direct X redirection – For DirectX 9, 10 & 11 applications will render on the server and will be remoted using bitmaps (required direct3D hardware).  If the application supports the new DirectX 10.1 API with remoting extensions the DirectX (2D& 3D)graphics are redirected to the local client to harness the power of the GPU on the users local device, removing the need for a GPU on the server
  • Improved audio / video synchronization -  RDP improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 are designed to provide closer synchronization of audio video in most scenarios.
  • Language Bar Redirection –easily & seamlessly control the language setting (e.g. right to left) for you RemoteApp programs using the local language bar (great for Japanese etc)
  • Task Scheduler – add the ability in Task Scheduler to ensure schedule applications never appear to users connecting with RemoteApp – for example Server Manager; this reduces user confusion.
  • Providing simplified publishing  and access to Remote Desktops and Applications.  The New Remote Desktop & Application feed provides a set of resources, such as RemoteApp programs and Remote Desktops.  These feeds are presented to Windows 7 users using the new RemoteApp & Desktop Connection control panel.  The new RemoteApp & Desktop Web Access provides the ability to connect to resources from Vista & XP in addition to Windows 7.
  • RemoteApp & Desktop Connections control panel - a user can easily connect to RemoteApp programs and Remote Desktops  using the RemoteApp & Desktop Connections
  • Seamless integration with Windows 7 – RemoteApp programs & desktops  show up in the Start Menu; A new System Tray icon shows connectivity status to all of the connections the user has
  • Unified administrative infrastructure -  both RemoteApp & Desktop connections and RemoteApp & Desktop Web Access (previously called TS Web Access); this ensure that connections can still be used from XP and Vista by using a web page)
  • Application display filtering – need to find out more
  • Designed for managed & unmanaged computers - Easy to configure and use from both managed and unmanaged (not connected to Active Directory) computers.
  • Always up to date – Once a workspace is set up the workspace keeps itself up to date until it is removed; when an admin adds an application it automatically appears on the start-menu & in the  Web Access page
  • Single sign-on experience within a workspace – ensure that only a single logon is required to access all applications and resources with a RemoteApp & Desktop connection
  • RemoteApp & Desktop Web Access - provides integration with RemoteApp & Desktop Connections to ensure a consistent list of applications is available to the user at all time, irrespective of the desktop OS used.  The default web page provides a fresh and inviting look and feel and includes a new web based login with integrated single sign-on.

Providing a better platform for partner innovation  

  • TS Web Access Customization – it is now possible to easily extend the look and feel of web access by both customers and partners using support for cascading style sheets.  It is possible to host the the webpart sharepoint .. It is also possible to create custom websites that consume the  RemoteApp & Desktop Connection  XML feed and transform these with XSLT.
  • RemoteApp & Desktop Connection – Whilst RAD connections are currently only used for Remote Desktop Services is it is possible to extend both the server side infrastructure and Windows 7 client shell to add support for any type of applications or service – even ones that don’t use RDP or remoting protocols.  This provides a single UI and point of discoverability for any service.
  • Session broker extensibility -  The session broker offers broad extensibility to enable customers and ISV to take advantage of the built in RDP redirection features whilst providing significant additional unique value through the various types of plug-ins; for example:- Policy (policy plug-in) – determining proper farm or VM for a connection - Load Balancing (filter plug-in) – Choosing the proper endpoint based on load - Orchestration (filter plug-in) – Preparing a VM to Accept RDP connections - Placement (resource plug-in) – Locating the proper VM and placing it on the proper VM Host

Completing the Remote Desktop Services toolset addressing customer  needs. Remote Desktops Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 focuses on improving management for all the existing scenarios delivered previously in Terminal Services and the exciting new scenarios in Remote Desktop Services; additionally we have added features to help improve application compatibility and ensure system stability by protecting against runway applications.

  • RDS Powershell Provider – Easily manage multiple sever and repetitive tasks - almost all Remote Desktop Services administrative tasks can now be scripted; view and edit configuration settings for RD Gateway, Remote Desktop Server and more.
  • New Kernel Scheduling for RDS scenarios – Stop runaway applications from affecting all users on a server – the new kernel scheduling mechanism for RDS fairly distributes CPU cycles across sessions. It dynamically scales the distribution based on number of active sessions and their loading.
  • Profile Improvements – The user profile cache quota removes the need to delete profiles at logoff speeding up user logon and prevents server downtime caused by disk space exhaustion due to user profile bloat. 
  • Group policy caching can now be performed across a TS Farm to speed up group policy processing during logon
  • IP Address Virtualization - Enable per-session or per application IP virtualization to meet regulatory and compliance needs & fix applications that break when it shares an IP address with other applications.
  • Microsoft Installer (MSI) compatibility – We have fixed multiple MSI related issues with Remote Desktop Server to ensure that MSI install packages can be installed normally, that per-user install settings are correctly propagated and removed the need to put the server in ‘install mode’, meaning users no longer need to be logged off.
  • Session Broker (clustering support, wizard driven, no shared disk – share based quorum config, powershell installation)