Terminal Services for Windows Server 2003

When Microsoft launched the Terminal Server Edition of Windows NT Server in 1998, they incorporated the bare-minimum multi-user components into their flagship server OS. Over the next five years, they continued to refine and enhance the Terminal Services components of Windows server.

When Microsoft launched the Terminal Server Edition of Windows NT Server in 1998, they incorporated the bare-minimum multi-user components into their flagship server OS. Over the next five years, they continued to refine and enhance the Terminal Services components of Windows server. When it’s released later this year, Windows Server 2003 will contain the most robust out-of-the-box Terminal Services capabilities ever. This article details the new features of Terminal Services that are built-in to Windows Server 2003.

Windows Server 2003 Versions

Similar to Windows 2000, there are multiple versions of Windows Server 2003. These include Web Server, Standard Server, Enterprise Server, and Datacenter Server. Terminal Services will run in “Administration Mode” (installed by default and now called “remote desktop”) with any version of Windows Server 2003. However, if you want to use Terminal Services in “Application Mode” to allow many users to connect and run remote applications, you cannot use the Web Server version of Windows Server 2003. (There was talk of requiring at least Enterprise Server, but thankfully support for Standard Server was added when Beta 3 was released.)

New Enterprise Features

To continue to add value to Windows Server (and perhaps to compete against some of the third-party offerings such as Citrix MetaFrame or New Moon Canaveral iQ), Microsoft added a “Session Directory” to Terminal Services 2003. In multi-server environments, this allows a user that disconnects from one server to automatically be routed back to that server to reconnect to their existing connection. (This feature requires the Enterprise Server or Datacenter Server versions of Windows Server 2003.)
In order to use the session directory, you must configure one specific Terminal Server to maintain the session directory information. This server tracks which users have which sessions on which servers via a local JET database. Then, enabling the session directory service on the other servers and pointing them to the session directory server causes them to check the session directory to see if there are any disconnected sessions for each user that logs on. (See the configuration screenshot below.) If so, the user is dynamically routed to the appropriate server.

A New Version of the RDP Protocol

Microsoft has updated the version of the RDP protocol that ships in Windows Server 2003. The new version, 5.2, offers several enhancements over version 5.1. For starters, RDP 5.2 supports all types of mapping, including printer ports, COM ports, the Windows clipboard, drives, and audio. (USB mapping is still not supported, although USB printers and drives are.) RDP sessions may also be 24-bit color, and resolution is limited only by the resolution of the client device. (The 1024x768 limit no longer applies.) With version 5.2, RDP is now very competitive to Citrix’s ICA protocol.

New RDP Client Features

Windows Server 2003 ships with an updated version of the RDP client, commonly referred to as the “remote desktop connection client.” This client, which is even newer than the one that ships with Windows XP (although it’s included in XP SP1), makes use of the new features of RDP 5.2.

The new client offers many more connection and configuration options than older clients. For example, Microsoft added support for various user “experiences.” (See the screen shot below.) This option allows users to manually specify their connection type (i.e. Modem, LAN, Broadband, etc.). The client software will automatically select the most appropriate configuration options.

When used with Terminal Services 2003, the new RDP client also allows for automatic time zone matching on a session-by-session basis. This lets multiple users in different time zones run programs on the same server, with each user’s session clocks and time zone settings automatically matching their client devices.

Licensing

The biggest changes in Terminal Services 2003 are in the licensing arena. (Big surprise!) Most important is the fact that Microsoft is introducing a “per user” licensing option in addition to the “per device” licensing model that we’re all used to. “Per user” licensing enables one user to use only one license, regardless of the number of devices from which he connects.

“Per user” licensing is not mandatory, although an administrator must configure each server to function in the new “per user” or the traditional “per device” licensing mode (see the screen shot below). One server cannot offer both types. However, one Terminal Services Licensing Server can maintain both types of licenses for multiple Terminal Servers.

With the creation of “per user” licensing, Microsoft no longer offers the Terminal Services Internet Connector CAL—good news to many people.

Another important licensing change is that with Terminal Services 2003, you are required to purchase a Terminal Services CAL for any client operating system, including Windows XP. However, any copy of Windows XP that was purchased prior to the release of Windows Server 2003 will be “grandfathered” in, and will not require an additional TS CAL purchase.

Also, in Terminal Services 2003, you can now install the TS Licensing Service on any member server in an Active Directory environment. You are no longer required to install it on a domain controller. (However, if you do this, be aware that Terminal Servers will not be able to automatically discover the license server. You will need to manually point them to the proper server.)

Furthermore, Microsoft now gives you the option to restrict which servers may receive licenses from particular TS licensing servers. This helps prevent one department’s TS CALs from “disappearing” to another department. In Terminal Services 2003, you can create a list of servers that are allowed to obtain TS CALs from a particular license server.

Like in Windows 2000, Windows 2003 Terminal Services license servers have two different license grace periods. The first is the number of days that a Terminal Server will accept connections without being able to connect to an activated license server. The second is the number of days that a temporary license is valid for. (Temporary licenses are granted to client devices by an activated license server when it has exhausted its inventory of TS CALs.) In Terminal Services 2003, both of these license thresholds have been increased to 120 days (up from 90 days each in Windows 2000.)

Finally, in response to customer feedback, Microsoft has completely rewritten the Terminal Services License Manager. The new version is much easier to use, and it supports many different types of license programs.

Administrative Changes

Microsoft has really done their homework and added some nice features to Terminal Services 2003 when it comes to administration. First, all Terminal Services properties are now exposed via ADSI. This means that you can, for example, write a VB Script that configures any user object property—including Terminal Services-specific properties such as remote control settings and TS profile paths.

Similar to the ADSI properties, Terminal Services 2003 also exposes all Terminal Services properties as Group Policy objects. In AD environments, you can now create Group Policies that control any user object property.

Lastly, the “Configure your Server” wizard now includes Terminal Services option. Selecting this option steps you through all the necessary configuration settings needed to bring your Terminal Server online.

Room for Improvement?

Terminal Services has come a long way since Microsoft first licensed the technology from Citrix back in 1998. However, third party tools are still needed to create true enterprise solutions.

For example, Terminal Services 2003 still doesn’t have “real” load balancing. Network load balancing (available in all versions of Windows Server 2003) will load-balance up to 32 servers. However, this load balancing is based on network utilization. This is not as useful as load balancing based on CPU usage of number of users. Also, if you want to scale larger than 32 servers, you’ll have to implement DNS round-robin addressing between load-balanced server groups.

You can also use Windows component load balancing to create clusters of Windows 2003 Terminal Servers. These clusters can share more intelligent information than network load balancing, and they have support for N+1 redundancy and dynamic failover and fail-back. However, Windows Server 2003 clusters are limited to 8 nodes.

The Verdict

Should you upgrade your Windows 2000 Terminal Servers to Windows Server 2003? The answer depends on your situation and whether you’re using third-party tools.
As you’ve seen, RDP 5.2 and Terminal Services 2003 provide many of the features that used to be only available via third-party tools. However, the third party tools still give you amenities such as application publishing, seamless windows, anonymous user support, and non-Microsoft client access. Terminal Server 2003’s features are evolutionary, not revolutionary.

about the author

Brian Madden is a freelance consultant based in Washington DC. He focuses on ubiquitous computing—helping customers provide access to critical applications for users regardless of client device, platform, location, or network connection. He is the author of two bestselling books about Citrix, most recently Citrix MetaFrame XP: Advanced Technical Design Guide, Including Feature Release 2. He is also the co-author of the upcoming book Terminal Services for Microsoft Windows Server 2003.
Brian Madden - Terminal Services 2003 Overview.pdf

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This message was originally posted by Freddie on April 19, 2004
Another thing to ad that can be very interesting about Win 2003 is the improvements of the printing handling. Even if this is not solely a TS improvement it’s very interesting for us SBC people.
1. There are approximately 1500 printer drivers installed by default.
2. Print server cluster support where the drivers are transparently placed on all nodes.
3. Optimized file spooling for higher print volume management
4. Kernel mode driver blocking
5. Enhanced printer redirection through Terminal Services

see ya...
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This message was originally posted by Dan Schwartz on May 21, 2004
Mactopia: www.microsoft.com/mac
Native OS X client: http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts/otherproducts.aspx?pid=remotedesktopclient

I use it daily, and it works quite well. It even supports the port syntax, such as 192.168.1.69:53
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This message was originally posted by Craig Sour on June 14, 2004
I am running a small print shop in which all of our MAC 10.3.x clients connect to Windows 2003 Terminal Services server. The problem is that we are unable to obtain the correct time zone on iMAC, G4 and G5 using RDP.

We have critical applications that run on Windows Terminal Services which collect production data (date and time) for each transaction. Since this isn't working we have held up a large migration for our business to flatten the number of MAC OS operating systems in our organization.

I hope someone can provide me with a solution soon.

With Appreciation,

Craig Sour
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This message was originally posted by David Schramm on June 22, 2004
I have the same issue appearing on all my MAC users connecting to W2K3 TS. the RedHat users were complaining of this same deal but they found a better version of rdesktop and it fixed them.
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This message was originally posted by Kyle Mallery on June 23, 2004
We are running a Dell Poweredge 2650 server with windows 2003 for the OS. For the last couple of months the terminal server will not allow users to connect and when the K switch was selected for that server nothing would be displayed on the monitor, but the server was still on. I would bounce the server and it would work fine for a day, week maybe a month. The display screen on the server once said there was an error with Fan 3, the fan was replaced. Then we got an error that said CPU 1 was missing, we replaced the motherboard and CPU 1 chip. After all is said and done the server is still giving me a blank screen and user are not able to connect to the terminal server until I bounce the server. Any comments or Ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Kyle Mallery
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This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on July 12, 2004
Kyle, ditch the Dell :D
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This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on September 4, 2004
There was a post that I was hoping would make the suggestion to the MAC users to use rdesktop for MAC. Since OS X is based on Unix and uses an X Display then rdesktop will work just fine for you as well.
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This message was originally posted by Pete on September 10, 2004
MS state usb port (and firewire) redirection for hardware such as scanners, barcode readers and card swipes is available in 2003 TS yet in your article you state it is not... Am wondering who is correct and if its MS how do i Implment it. MS article http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/sdcce_term_ppxp.asp
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This message was originally posted by Joe on September 22, 2004
I am in the midst of deploying a Terminal Services solution for my company that would see 200+ users from 54 remote sites connecting in. I am looking for a "hardware" load balancer, instead of using what is built in within W2K
Any recommendations?
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This message was originally posted by Patrick on September 29, 2004
We are moving from NT 4.0 to 2003. We have two terminal servers now, and epect to start the conversion with 3. My question is, do I need to have AD up and running BEFORE I start up the Terminal Servers?
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This message was originally posted by julesman on October 4, 2004
Hmmm...I think the article is confusing. Generic USB device\bus redirection is not supported in Windows Server 2003 TS. However, 3 classes of devices (which may be USB attached) may be redirected. These are 1) Smartcards, 2) USB Printers and 3) USB Storage Devices.
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This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on October 19, 2004
Check out F5's BIG-IP products. I've been using them for about 2 years and (fairly) recently began using the RDP load balancing features. The simplest solution is pretty much just LB with persistence (similar to what Session Directory does in native 2k3 configs). There are other features that pull from the server's WMI info to determine load and thus base new session direction on those stats.

Is this better than sticking with the MS solution? Maybe, maybe not. Being that I'm comfortable with F5's product line, this was a natural progression for my implementation.

(Radware may also support this, so look at them too.)
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How do I load Terminal services on a preloaded win2K. Have disk. containing PRO server or Adv Srvr
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Unlike USB keyboards, numeric keypads and mice. your other devices create ports eg USB001 (With address) which can be "hosted"
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Must have and should are different. I would highly recommend that you get AD up and running, converting from NT4 users for domains to AD in itself can pose issues you may not even be aware of. Terminal servers will not be in full operation without an actualy license server, therefore you should have your license server setup and ready to go. It is recommended to put your license server on a non-terminal server. Once again, its all about saving headaches, so it would be easiest to get your servers up and running with all the patches/software before you turn on the actual 'terminal server' role.
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Sure, use a hardware load balancer such as one from F5 or Cisco
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And get ready for a big headache!
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When you set a server to run Terminal Services in Application Mode and if the server can't find the domain controller with TS CALs does the mean the firewall is not allowing RPC packets?
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I am having problems finding printers that will work on Terminal Server Windows 2003. I have a small business with clients connecting to me and they have to have printer capabilities. Is there a list of inexpensive printers that will work?
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ORIGINAL: Guest

This message was originally posted by Kyle Mallery on June 23, 2004
We are running a Dell Poweredge 2650 server with windows 2003 for the OS. For the last couple of months the terminal server will not allow users to connect and when the K switch was selected for that server nothing would be displayed on the monitor, but the server was still on. I would bounce the server and it would work fine for a day, week maybe a month. The display screen on the server once said there was an error with Fan 3, the fan was replaced. Then we got an error that said CPU 1 was missing, we replaced the motherboard and CPU 1 chip. After all is said and done the server is still giving me a blank screen and user are not able to connect to the terminal server until I bounce the server. Any comments or Ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Kyle Mallery
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Craig -
 
Were you ever able to find a fix for the time zone issue you were running into with Macs and the RDP client??
 
Thanks
Patrick
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ORIGINAL: Guest

This message was originally posted by Kyle Mallery on June 23, 2004
We are running a Dell Poweredge 2650 server with windows 2003 for the OS. For the last couple of months the terminal server will not allow users to connect and when the K switch was selected for that server nothing would be displayed on the monitor, but the server was still on. I would bounce the server and it would work fine for a day, week maybe a month. The display screen on the server once said there was an error with Fan 3, the fan was replaced. Then we got an error that said CPU 1 was missing, we replaced the motherboard and CPU 1 chip. After all is said and done the server is still giving me a blank screen and user are not able to connect to the terminal server until I bounce the server. Any comments or Ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Kyle Mallery

 
Hi, i was wondring if you ever solved that problem, i have a similar one. Thanks.
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I am launching an application when logging in to the 2003 TS and the program opens temporary files in a specified folder on the server.  When the users logout of the app like they are supposed to the temp files get removed.  If the click the disconnect x in the corner of the display window the app does not shut down smoothly and leaves the temp files.  This causes problems later as clients try to login because the app can't overwrite the existing temp files.  I want to force the users to logoff the app not click the x in the corner of the display window.
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This page is missing from the MS website - any word as to if USB sharing is available? please email rlwolfgram@clclumber.com with a response.

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Is using citrix, go global or xp unlimited terminal services on window 2000/2003 server are legal?? pl guide!
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