MSTSC.EXE – no more /console switch in RDC 6.1

Happy New Year!  We’re starting off 2008 with a significant post regarding changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008.  OK, it’s not quite as dire as the title makes it out to be, but this is quite a significant change.  If you recall from our post on Session 0 Isolation, users can no longer connect to Session 0 on Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 by design.  On earlier builds of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, if you run mstsc /? from the command prompt, the following screen is displayed.  Note the section in red below.  If you use version 6.1 of the Remote Desktop Client included , in order to connect to the console session for Windows Server 2003, you should use the /admin switch instead.  RDC 6.1 is included with the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and RC
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Beta and RC

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The /admin switch allows you to connect to an administrative session for Windows Server 2008.  As indicated above, it also connects you to the console session on Windows Server 2003.  If you are running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 or later, the following scenarios will return this error message:

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  • In the RDC client UI, you specify Computer_name /console in the Computer box (where Computer_name represents the name of the remote computer to which you want to connect), and then click Connect.
  • In the .rdp file, you specify /console in the “full address” property, and then try to start the Remote Desktop connection.

So why is this important?  Obviously if you have shortcuts, applications or scripts that rely on the /console switch, they will be affected by this change.  One of the biggest impacts will be for administrators who connect to their servers using /console to perform application installations or maintenance.  This functionality will still be available, however you will just need to use the /admin switch.  There are also implications for developers who use the ConnectToServerConsole property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings interface.  There is a different interface and property that they will need to use – namely the ConnectToAdministerServer property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings6 interface.

The Terminal Services team has posted more information on their blog – the link is below.  As always, we welcome your feedback.  Until next time …

Terminal Services Team Blog: Changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008

CC Hameed


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