Windows 8.1 / Windows Server 2012 R2 – VMConnect Enhanced Mode – RDP over VMBUS

Hello folks,

I would like to introduce you to an exciting new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2 called VMConnect Enhanced Mode.

This feature enables high fidelity RDP sessions to VM guests over the VM bus.  High fidelity implies getting audio, clipboard support, USB and other redirection in addition to enhanced graphics.

Creating high fidelity sessions to guests through TCP/IP RDP connections has always been possible, but requires a properly configured network path to the VM.  The VMConnect Enhanced Mode feature allows for these high fidelity sessions when no network connectivity exists between the host and guest OS's.

So, how can I get started with this feature?

First, install Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Hyper-V role and create a Windows 8.1 guest OS.

Launch Hyper-V Manager on the host OS and tick the following boxes:

Server \ Enhanced Session Mode Policy \ Allow enhanced session mode

User \ Enhanced Session Mode \ Use enhanced session mode

Now connect to your VM and notice the familiar RDP dialog options that you may configure to enhance your VMConnect experience.

Display options and the ability to save your RDP settings   

Select which local resources you'd like to redirect with RDP

Audio options, including input (mic)

Additional granular control of what's redirected and available in your session

I especially like the clipboard redirection, which means never having to use the Clipboard \ Type Clipboard Text option again.

Are there any caveats?  Yes, and let's go over those now so there are no surprises.

VMConnect Enhanced Mode FAQ:

Q) Will this feature work with Windows OS's prior to 8.1?
A) No. A Windows 8.1, Server 2012R2 or later OS guest is required.

Q) Does this feature work from an RDP session into the Hyper-V host?
A) Yes. This feature is available when RDP'ing into the Hyper-V host.

Q) Does this feature work on Gen1 VM's?
A) Yes. This feature works on both Gen1 and Gen2 VM's.

Q) Does this feature require integration services?
A) Windows 8.1 includes integration services, but this feature does not require them to be enabled in the guest configuration options.

Q) Does this feature require a network adapter configured for the VM with a valid virtual switch selected?
A) No. A key point of this feature is that the RDP connection is made over the VMBUS rather than having to configure networking.

Q) Does the guest OS need to be configured to accept RDP connections?
A) No. This feature will work even if the guest is configured for "Don't allow remote connections to this computer".

Q) Are there any user requirements on the guest?
A) Yes. Enhanced sessions are only available when logging into the guest as a member of the local Administrators group or the Remote Desktop Users group.  Additionally, the guest OS must support Remote Desktop sessions.  (i.e. Pro or Enterprise editions of Windows 8.1.  Home editions will not work.)

Q) Is this feature compatible with RemoteFX-enabled guests?
A) No. This feature is not available on guests with RemoteFX adapters.

Q) Should I expect this feature work on the first boot of the guest OS?
A) No. The guest OS should be rebooted at least once to complete OOBE setup.

Thanks for checking out one of the great new features available in Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.  I hope everyone is able to make use of this soon!

- Aaron

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