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The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

Evaluate This–Remote Desktop Services

In my last post I showed how easy it is to create virtual desktops in Windows Server 2012, and while that’s now a core part of providing remote desktops to your users there is still the good old fashioned terminal services, or to give its modern name Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RDS also changes quite a lot in Windows Server 2012 and so I have made this short screencast to show how to set it up..


To try this yourself all you’ll need is an Evaluation Copy of Windows Server 2012


VDI and RDS are designed to compliment each other:

  • The client is using the same protocol (RDP – Remote Desktop Protocol) to interact with a remote desktop or a virtual desktop
  • They share services for example; the remote desktop web access portal for users to access remote desktops and applications, and the remote desktop broker that controls access to the resources on offer.
  • You can create RD RemoteApp applications from both an RDS Pool or a VDI Pool.  If you aren’t familiar with RD RemoteApp it’s a way of delivering an individual application over RDP so it looks like it’s on a users desktop but actually its executing server side. I have seen it being used for providing legacy applications or those that need to run in a secure environment.

So when to use what?

I think this comes down to efficiency and manageability.  You can support far more (typically 12x)  remote users with RDS than with VDI running on the same server hardware.  So if possible use RDS complimented with technologies like App-v to virtualise application delivery to delegated users.  That way you’ll just have to maintain the few servers providing RDS and secure the users profile disks. 

It may be that some or of all your users can’t use RDS because they applications they want don‘t ‘like’  being run from and RDS server.  In that case the next most efficient option is pooled VDI where a virtual desktop is shared rather than being dedicated to a particular user. In this scenario you just have manage one virtual desktop, and then control the deployment of revisions to that (which may just include patches or whole new applications). Your final option is to give your users personal virtual desktops which means that each of these needs to be managed in exactly the same way as if they have real desktops.  What’s good about VD/RDS in Windows Server is that the users get a good experience either way with multi touch support, smooth video streaming and USB redirect so they can use webcams, dongle, card readers etc.

Finally if you are planning to do this in your organisation, I would suggest a really thorough trial and to over provision hardware both on the server side to provide a great user experience and also to provide good quality big monitors to win the hearts and minds of your users.