In the first post of this series I highlighted that with Windows Server 2016 there are some feature differences between the Standard and the Enterprise Editions that might get lost in some of the messaging, so in this series of posts I’m going to be highlighting the feature set of Windows Server 2016 Standard, and will include information from a few different resources, but the primary one is the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 Feature Comparison. As mentioned in the first post of the series, these will focus on what’s new from a Windows Server 2012 R2 perspective, rather than Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 perspective. I will focus on those later if needed.
Following on from the previous post in the series, which was on Management and Automation, today’s topic is Remote Desktop Services, and following you will find the information from the Feature Comparison Guide.
Please note that these are subject to change and are based on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5. If any adjustments need to be made, please leave a comment.
Remote Desktop Services enables an independent Windows experience, for multiple users who access a desktop experience logon session hosted on Windows Server.
RemoteFX vGPU provides a rich desktop remoting experiencing with Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services enabling multiple VM’s to share the same physical GPU for graphics acceleration. Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services includes the following improvements to RemoteFX vGPU:
- OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 API support.
- Up to 1GB dedicated VRAM and up to 1GB of shared memory available in VM.
- Up to 4k resolution support.
- Windows Server 2016 VM support.
- Improved performance.
Discrete Device Assignment
Discrete Device Assignment (DDA) is a Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V feature that allows some PCI Express devices to be passed through directly to a guest VM (to be controlled by the guest VM). Devices used in this way cannot be used by the host or other VMs.
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Session Hosts can now take advantage of DDA, enabling enhanced graphics performance.
- Full graphics API Support (ex. DirectX, OpenGL, CUDA, OpenCL) (depends on GPU driver).
- Native GPU Driver Support (Intel, AMD, NVIDIA).
- Maximum Performance (1 or more GPUs to 1 VM).
- Multiuser RDSH Support. Multiple sessions can utilize the graphics card assigned to the RDSH VM via DDA.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Graphics Compression
Windows Server 2016 (and Windows 10) RDP graphics compression (codec) now implements full-screen AVC 444 mode. This enhancement provides:
- Reduced bandwidth and better experience at higher resolutions
- Hardware offload support.
In Windows Server 2016 the RD Connection Broker has been enhanced to handle highly concurrent logon scenarios (“log on storms”). The RD Connection Broker was tested to 10k concurrent connections with zero failure rate.
The RD Connection Broker requires a SQL database. In previous OS versions a SQL cluster was recommended, requiring two virtual machines. A SQL database is still required however SQL authentication is now supported. Shared SQL/DB connections, making even smaller scale deployments more cost effective.
Cloud Optimization – Azure Active Directory
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services can utilize Azure services to provide more cost effective solutions.
Azure AD Application Proxy enables secure remote access to applications. RD Gateway servers are still required. Now they can be published to the Application Proxy service, instead of exposed to the public internet. This reduces attack surface and enhances security.
Additionally, conditional access rules can be created to further define how users must authenticate (require multi-factor authentication, require MFA only when users are not at work, block access when not at work).
Azure AD Domain Services provides managed domain services (domain join, group policy, LDAP, Kerberos, etc.). A Remote Desktop Services environment using Domain Services eliminates the need to deploy and manage domain controllers
Cloud Optimizations – SQL
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services can utilize Azure services to provide more cost effective solutions. The RD Connection Broker requires a SQL database. In previous OS versions a SQL cluster was recommended, requiring 2 VMs. A SQL database is still required however SQL authentication is now supported.
Azure SQL Database includes high availability, disaster recovery, and upgrade mechanisms. A Remote Desktop Services environment using Azure SQL Database eliminates the need to deploy and manage VMs for SQL.
Other RDS improvements
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services provides several improvements over previous versions, including:
- Personal session Desktops.
- Support for Generation 2 virtual machines.
- Pen Remoting Support.
MultiPoint Services Role
MultiPoint Services is a new server role in Windows Server 2016. It is a server solution that is easy to deploy and easy to manage. It enables low-cost per seat desktop computing. MultiPoint allows multiple users, each with their own independent Windows experience, to simultaneously share one computer. The unique tool-set of this role allows monitoring of all user sessions on the MultiPoint server.
MultiPoint does not use or require the Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker and RD Gateway roles. Enabling the Multipoint Services role, also installs Remote Desktop Session Host role which allows users to connect remotely with devices of their choice by using Remote Desktop applications available on Windows, Windows phone, Android, iOS and Mac OS.