Server 2008 R2: Remote Access Services

With the introduction of the Windows Server 2008 R2 the product formally known as Terminal Services has been renamed Remote Desktop Services and includes a number of key changes. The first of these key changes is an obvious change in the service and feature names as well as management tool names.

Below is a table with all of these name changes:

Previous Name: Server 2008 R2 Name:
Terminal Services Remote Desktop Services
Terminal Server Remote Desktop Session Host Server (RDSH)
Terminal Services Licensing
(TS Licensing)
Remote Desktop Licensing
(RD Licensing)
Terminal Services Gateway
(TS Gateway)
Remote Desktop Gateway
(RD Gateway)
Terminal Services Session Broker
(TS Session Broker)
Remote Desktop Connection Broker
(RD Connection Broker)
Terminal Services Easy Print
(TS Easy Print)
Remote Desktop Easy Print
(RD Easy Print)
Terminal Services Web Access
(TS Web Access)
Remote Desktop Web Access
(RD Web Access)
New RemoteApp and Desktop Connections
New Remote Desktop Virtualization Host Server (RDVH)

Previous Name: Server 2008 R2 Name:
Terminal Services Manager Remote Desktop Server Manager
Terminal Services Configuration Remote Desktop Service Configuration
TS Gateway Manager Remote Desktop (RD) Gateway Manager
TS Licensing Manager Remote Desktop (RD) Licensing Manager
TS RemoteApp Manager RemoteApp Manager

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All of the existing functionality is still being supported with this name change.  There are also a number of different enhancements which have been included with Windows Server 2008 R2 including increased Remote Desktop session performance, processor fair scheduling, multi-core optimizations as well as equal processor quotas.

The main components of the Remote Desktop Services Architecture include:

  • RD Session Host (RDSH) and/or RD Virtualization Host (RDVH) server(s)
  • RD Licensing
  • RD Gateway
  • RD Connection Broker
  • RD Web Access

The RDSH server is the same thing as the Terminal Server and provides all of the familiar features including session based desktop and application sharing. This type of server can also take advantage of the RD Connection Broker when multiple servers are deployed.

The RDVH server is a new feature which provides support for a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. The RDVH server is configured to take advantage of Hyper-V based servers located within the data center, enabling the use of a VM-based remote desktop which can be configured with full administrative control without the security implications of session based setups. The RDVH servers can provide an administrator the option of configuring virtual desktops which can be fully personalized in order to deliver a consistent desktop environment. They can also be configured to utilize shared VM desktop pools which are not personalized.

The RD Licensing role provides management of RDS client access licenses (RDS-CAL’s) which are required for each device or user connecting into either a RSDH or RSVH server. There is however some changes which have been implemented, these include:

  • Removal of automatic license server discovery
  • Licensing tab changes
  • New RDS-CAL’s wizard
  • Service Connection Point (SCP) registration

The RD Gateway role provides a way of connecting to internal services from an outside location through the use of RDP over HTTPS. A couple of changes have also been implemented which include:

  • The ability to enforce a secure device redirection policy
  • Configurable Idle and Session timeouts
  • Addition of background session authentication and authorization
  • The ability to send service and content messages to connected users

The RD Connection Broker is used to provide users with access to remote desktop and RemoteApp application resources. RD Connection Broker extends the previous TS Session Broker by supporting not only session based capabilities but also support for VM based desktops (both personalized and polled).

RD Web Access provides the ability to use both session-based remote desktop and application abilities as well as VM-based remote desktop abilities through a web browser. An appropriate connection on either the RDSH or RDVH will be established when a session is initiated to provide the interface. Traffic from the browser utilizes HTTPS to secure the connection.

RDS Additional Capabilities

Along with everything mentioned above, RDS provides a number of different user experience capabilities which did not exist before which are focused on those running Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate. These capabilities include:

  • High-quality multimedia redirection including audio and video redirection in its original format
  • True multiple monitor support; this includes support for up to 16 monitors
  • Audio input and recording capabilities; this includes support for speech recognition and user microphone support
  • Windows Aero Glass support; this provides support or the Aero interface on RDSH servers ensuring a familiar look and feel.
  • Enhanced bitmap acceleration; allows rich media like flash and Silverlight as well as applications using DirectX versions above 9 to be rendered on the host (server) and then sent to the client.
  • Improved Audio/Video synchronization
  • Support for language bar redirection when using RemoteApp programs

The RDS feature is a very powerful option which can be implemented to provide an alternative way of providing desktop or application solutions when a centralized infrastructure is available. If any of the features listed above seem to fit your specific requirements take time the time to invest in researching these services.

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