Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What's New in Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services
Windows Terminal Services has been around for a long, long time and it's seen a lot of changes and improvements over the years. The trend continues and the pace of change has accelerated with Windows Server 2012, where Remote Desktop Services gets a major facelift and a ton of new features that finally make it a real contender going up against Citrix. OK, maybe it doesn't have all the features that Citrix has, but it definitely is cost effective and will do just about everything that most organizations want or need it to do. Check out these new features and capabilities:
- Centralized configuration and management
- Extreme personalization
- Better load balancing so that one user can't hog all the resources and impact other users; this is called "Fairshare"
- Improved PowerShell support
- Windows 7 SP1 fully supported as guest operating system
- User Profile Disks
- Windows 8 style (formerly Metro) user interface support
- Significant improvement of user experience over WAN connections
- Remote FX virtual GPU supporting RemoteFX Multi-touch, RemoteFX Media Streaming and Remote Desktop Easy Print.
- Dynamic in-session USB Redirection that lets you select devices for redirection even in the middle of a session
- Support for even more USB devices, including phones
- Ability to change DPI in remote sessions
- New performance counters for monitoring Remote Desktop Session Host servers and virtual desktops
There are some hardware requirements for getting the full benefits of these enhancements. You need a SLAT capable processor (one that supports Extended Page Tables) and a supported GPU in your RDS server. The GPU driver must support DirectX 11.
There is a Windows 8 RDP app available in the Windows Store that makes connecting to a Remote Desktop session a more touch-friendly experience. The UI is very simple and also uses minimal system resources (to better preserve your battery on a tablet or other portable device). There is a Touch Keyboard and a Touch Pointer and you can zoom in and out. Your recent connections are displayed as tiles and you can edit the settings for individual connections or for all connections at once. You can get a look at some screenshots of the app here.
Single sign-on (SSO) when connecting to RemoteApps and hosted desktops has been made much easier to deploy, as multiple certificates are no longer required, and users can connect from managed devices without any prompts for credentials, using their locally logged-on domain accounts.
Another pain point for users in the past has been having to remember a long URL to connect to the right remote workspace. Now that requirement can be eliminated, with email and web discovery. All the user has to do is provide his/her email address. Remote Desktop Web Access works now with non-Microsoft web browsers, as well, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
It's not just users who benefit from the changes, either. Administrators will find it easier to manage RDS with the management interface built into Windows Server 2012 Server Manager. I don't think many of us will be sorry to say goodbye to all those RD management tools like RDS Manager, RemoteApp Manager, RD Session Host Configuration (the licensing and RD Gateway tools are, however, still separate). There's also a new wizard that makes it easier to deploy RDS, and of course, everything can be done through PowerShell for those who prefer that method.
All in all, RDS has received a significant overhaul in Windows Server 2012, becoming more versatile than ever and allowing IT admins to centralize and control the ability of users to connect from any location and any device, and get their jobs done utilizing their familiar desktop environments.
Want to learn more about Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services? Then check out the RDS Test Lab Guides! You can find them at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2012/03/28/get-started-with-remote-desktop-services-in-windows-server-8-beta.aspx Also, if you want to get the details of the new Windows Server 2012 RDS, check out the Understand and Troubleshoot Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server "8" Beta. Unfortunately, this guide has not been updated to the RTM version of Windows Server 2012 and the existing content on TechNet for RDS is pretty anemic. You can find the guide at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29006
Let me know what you think of the new RDS in Windows Server 2012!
Quote of the Month - A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. – Ayn Rand
2. ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide - Order Today!
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month
Defragmenting WIM Files
Custom Windows Imaging (WIM) files captured from reference installations can sometimes be pretty large, due to the presence of numerous installed applications, language packs, and device drivers. I've even heard of some WIM files for Windows client installations being more than 20 GB in size. Now that is a humongous file! Even if you're using WDS to multicast the deployment of such images, if you're doing it on a 100 Mbps network such transfers can sometimes take hours to complete.
One thing you can try doing to get that file size down is to defragment the WIM file. If the WIM file is fragmented, then defragmenting it can sometimes reduce its size considerably. To defragment a WIM file, you can export it using the ImageX command by including the /Export parameter. For more information, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc749447(v=ws.10)
For more great admin tips, check out http://www.windowsnetworking.com/kbase/
5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month
Virtualization is the name of the game in today's "next gen" datacenter. And a big part of that game plan is high availability. The problem that many Hyper-V admins have had when it comes to high availability is that, in order to move your VMs around, you had to create a cluster. Well, clustering is pretty cool, but it can also be a real pain in the neck. For example, the cluster has to be a domain member and you need shared storage. While there is a ton of goodness in clustering, you might not be thrilled with the administrative overhead that's involved. This is especially true if you want to be a cloud service provider – where AD and shared storage add significantly to administrative overhead and capital expenditure.
The good news is that with Windows Server 2012, you can have full virtual machine mobility without a cluster. They call it the "shared nothing" model and all you need is a network cable to connect the source and destination machines. For more information about the Hyper-V "shared nothing" feature, check out this blog post on the TechNet site.
6. Windows Networking Links of the Month
I've heard about this thing called "Windows To Go" for running Windows on different computers. It sounds like an ideal solution for my users who are increasingly getting into the BYOD thing (even though I don't really like BYOD). Can you point me to some information on "Windows To Go"?
Thanks, Larry E.
Windows to Go is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 that allows you to give users a Windows 8 operating system instance that they can run off a USB key. It's really pretty impressive. You can create a golden image and put it on the USB key and then the user boots and runs the OS from the key, on any compatible computer. What's really nice is that the host computer on which you boot the OS doesn't have any access to the Windows to Go workspace, and the user has everything configured the same way, with the same apps, no matter what physical machine he/she is using. That's the good news. The bad news is that there are a lot of software and hardware requirements and it's not exactly a "no brainer" to get it up and working. For more information and additional links, check out http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831833.aspx