Hi, I’m Ben Meister from the Remote Desktop Virtualization team. We’ve been hard at work after the beta release earlier this year. This post highlights some of the features added and enhancements made in the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate build. Special thanks to Snesha Foss and Shanmugam Kulandaivel for their major contributions to this post.
By now there have been quite a few posts about Windows Server 2012 and the many features that Remote Desktop Services has introduced in this release. If you have not read them all, following are links to a few that are a must-read before delving further into this post.
- Klaas Langhout, Director of Program Management for Remote Desktop Services, posted an overview of Remote Desktop Services features earlier this month.
- Additionally, lab guides for deployment were posted on the Remote Desktop Services team blog with the release of the beta earlier this year.
For an overview of new features in Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012, please review the TechNet article What’s New in Remote Desktop Services.
So what’s new?
We’ve split this post into two sections to give you an overview of the additional changes in Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate. These are above and beyond all the changes introduced in previous builds of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.
- Core Infrastructure and Management
Core Infrastructure and Management
Windows PowerShell deployment
Remote Desktop Services scenarios can now be deployed by using either Server Manager’s Remote Desktop Services management interface or the new Windows PowerShell cmdlets introduced with the Release Candidate (RC). The cmdlet interface can be used to build sophisticated automation to make the IT administrator’s life easier. Windows PowerShell deployments of Remote Desktop Services can still be managed with Server Manager if the servers in the deployment are added to Server Manager for monitoring and management.
Nested OU Support
In the Beta version of Windows Server 2012, only root organizational unit (OU) selection was provided in Server Manager when creating hosted virtual desktops. With the RC build of Windows Server 2012, Server Manager allows for virtual machine creation at sub-level OUs, allowing IT admins to create virtual machines for servers, desktops, and business units.
Windows 7 SP1 as a guest operating system
In the Beta version of Windows Server 2012, a little known fact was that virtual desktops could be created with a Windows 7 SP1 client guest operating system template. One requirement when using Windows 7 SP1 as a guest operating system is that you need to install the Hyper-V integration components for Windows 7 SP1 in the virtual desktop template used to create the virtual desktop collection. The User Profile Disk feature can be used with virtual machines created with Windows 7 SP1 to persist user state. Also, this feature allows Windows 7 SP1 virtual machines to be patched like a Windows 8 Release Preview client and managed similarly. However, since this is a Windows 7 SP1 client, the graphics enhancements in RemoteFX in Windows 8 Release Preview will not be available, and the user experience will be similar to that in RDP 7.
User Profile Disks
With the RC build of Windows Server 2012, user profile disks can now be stored on cluster shared volume (CSV) drives by using Server Manager or Windows PowerShell cmdlets.
Additionally with this build, user profile disk share permissions, which had to be set up manually in the Beta by the IT admin, are now set up automatically on the shares in use with session collections or pooled virtual desktop collections.
Updating the virtual desktop template
In the RC build, when patching a virtual desktop collection, both software and hardware properties are now accepted. For example, if you created a collection with a 2-GB virtual machine and found that this was not sufficient for your user’s needs, you can now upgrade the memory setting on the virtual desktop template and patch the collection to enable all virtual machines in the collection with the new setting. All hardware settings are supported in patching your virtual desktop template.
Metro-Style Remote Desktop App
The Metro-Style Remote Desktop App in Windows 8 Release Preview is now available via the Windows Store, free of charge. The App features a variety of new improvements, including the Touch Pointer—a trackpad-like full-screen experience that makes interacting with legacy applications fun and easy by using touch in a remote session, no stylus required!
WAN Experience Improvements
We’ve made numerous performance improvements to RemoteFX features (such as RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics, RemoteFX Media Streaming, and RemoteFX for WAN) since the Beta release. The Release Candidate enables users on WAN networks to have a full fidelity experience—users can have a great experience not only with data-entry type applications, but even with graphically intensive and multimedia applications.
In addition, the optimizations and improvements also result in lower network bandwidth consumption compared to the Beta release.
Support for RemoteFX Graphics quality modes
One size doesn’t fit all, and even more so when the needs of different types of end users differ dramatically based on the applications that they use. Keeping that in mind, we have added configurable quality modes for RemoteFX: Lossless mode for pixel perfect experience, High quality mode for near lossless experience at a lower bandwidth cost, and Medium quality mode for a visually identical experience at an even lower bandwidth cost.
The RemoteFX virtual graphics processing unit (VGPU) now supports DirectX 11 graphics in remote sessions. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about further enhancements to the RemoteFX VGPU.
Dynamic In-Session USB Redirection
USB devices can now be selected for redirection even in the middle of a remote session, and can be swapped between remote sessions or to the local PC. When RemoteFX USB redirection is enabled, simply tap on the new “Devices” icon on the Connection Bar to choose which devices are redirected.
Expanded USB Device Support
Recently we released a KB article that enables the use of additional devices with RemoteFX USB redirection. Now you can use CD writers, specialty printers, phones, and much more in your remote session!
Support for Changing DPI in Remote Sessions
The Release Candidate supports changing DPI in a remote session. As an end user, you can log on remotely to another computer, RD Session Host server, or virtual desktop collection and change the DPI setting in the Control Panel, log off and log back on, and the remote session automatically adjusts to the desired DPI setting—a huge improvement for users that typically prefer the non-default DPI values. The DPI setting also gets stored in the user profile disks, enabling DPI customization for pooled virtual desktop collection users.
We have added a number of performance counters that will enable IT Administrators to actively monitor their RD Session Host servers and virtual desktops and glean important performance information to troubleshoot user experience issues. The new performance counters can be found in the RemoteFX Graphics and RemoteFX Network categories in PerfMon.
There are many more enhancements in this build which are not described here. We encourage you to deploy the RC build and preview the experience!