Brian Madden TV #14 - Windows 2008 R2 Terminal Server / Remote Desktop Services mega-show

For this week's Brian Madden TV, Brian spent some time with the release candidate of Windows Server 2008 R2. He poked, prodded, investigated, and tried to understand all the new RDP and Terminal Server / Remote Desktop features. So if you want to learn what works and what doesn't, and what made it into the final product, this episode is for you. Specific points of discussion include:

  • Terminal Services (TS) renamed to Remote Desktop Services (RDS)
  • mstsc.exe (Remote Desktop Connection client) updated to version 6.1.x
  • Virtual IP addresses
  • MSI Service serializes requests
  • Set compression algorithm for “none”
  • Client audio recording
  • Client multi-monitor support for up to 16 monitors
  • Policy to control max resolution
  • WPF and Silverlight / WMF redirection
  • CPU Fair Share Optimize
  • RDP for rich multimedia or text Desktop Composition
  • Limit size of entire roaming profile cache 

This week's random vendor of the week is Akorri.


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Having forgotten to ask Rob from Akorri this question, I asked it via email today:

"Akorri is one of many performance monitoring / root cause analysis vendors that uses WMI to monitor system performance.  What is it that sets Akorri apart from all the other products, especially from a VDI perspective?"

I received this response:

"WMI is one of the many APIs we use to talk to the infrastructure.  We also use SSH Expect Scripts to talk to Linux or Unix desktops.  We also use Citrix and VMWare's APIs to analyze what the desktop thinks it is using vs what is being used under the hood on the host."

Now to me, that still leaves the question unanswered, because I'm not sure that answers the main point--what makes Akorri different?  

But...that's what the Random Vendor of the Week is for - just to let someone in our space (or who we believe to be in our space) get their message out so that you can decide whether or not it's worth pursuing.



I'd be very interested in Riverbed's take on the capability of disabling RDP compression.

There is an interesting blog discussion from last year between Riverbed and Expand:



Regarding the new RDP protocol.

I'm assuming that it will be a part of Windows7.

But when it comes to VMware View, which uses Microsoft RDP at the moment. Will it be able to take advantage of the new RDP protocol?

If so, what will the benefits be from using PC over IP compared to RDP?


Just an FYI that in Quest vWorkspace 6.0 (released in January 2009) and higher's management console, administrators can choose to disable RDP Compression and set RDP encryption to low, with a single selection.  We did this specifically to address the use of Expand Networks devices.  We did this so administrators didn't have to configure every client, VM and Terminal Server to support these Compression, QoS and Caching devices.  If you've ever implemented one of these devices without such a setting, you'd understand the pain that it addresses.

I've been on projects with the Expand Networks devices, and they are fantastic for getting better end user experience, as they do both compression of RDP, and they cache content on the client side appliance.  So in a case where a remote office had 50 user on the other end of a point-to-point T1, we know that the most RDP or ICA sessions on could support is about 20-25 even if they are all using non graphically intensive programs.  With the Expand gear, we were able to get 5-10 times as many sessions across the same wire because of the compression, and mostly because of the intelligent client side caching.  

As far as I know Expand is the only device that actually compresses RDP, although I've heard that the Cisco WAAS can do this. If Riverbed, Bluecoat, Citrix... do this, please let me know, but as far as I know they only do QoS for RDP.

Thanks for the details on R2, as it's good to see that the stuff we were shown last year have made it into the product.



The new RDP, like previous versions of RDP, is indeed a part of Windows. As such, it functions regardless of whether Windows runs on top of physical of virtual hardware. OTOH new functionality that utilizes hardware capabilities may not be able to accesses them from within a virtualized environment. In other words, Calista may not work on VMware. We will have to wait and see what it can do with Hyper-V.

We will also have to wait and see how Calista compares to PC-over-IP. But it's worth noting that even though both utilize hardware, they work very differently.


We added the same capability in Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect for the exact same reason - Expand Networks. The thing is, you could always disable compression is RDP (at least going back to RDP 5.x). The issue was that the setting was on the client side rather than on the server side. So any solution that has a managed client can be enhanced to provide this services.


Dan, you're absolutely right about the RDP compression settings.  We found it very difficult to ensure the client settings w/o controlling it from some admin console.  Asking the client to check the contents of their default.rdp file wasn't practical, and we don't use RDP files in vWorkspace.  Cheers.


The profile cleanup sounds promising. Now we won't have to keep running delprof scripts.

But Calista would give us the Host Side rendering we need to support the low-end thin client environments without having to pay through the nose to Citrix. I suspect MS may provide the user to determine client-side or host-side rendering (the Calista implementation) in the RDP Windows 2008 Server/Windows 7 versions of the OS.

Is that we can expect, I wonder?


I hate to break it to you Brian, but unless the Desktop Composition has changed, this is not the calista technology. Desktop Composition has been available since at least Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 (not R2) but there are a number of hoops you have to jump through to enable it. You have to run on a Physical platform with a vista capable GPU and on a client with Areo Glass enabled using RDP 6.0 or greater. You also (like you mentioned) have to enable the themes service and then have the user (once all the other pieces are in place) change their theme to Aero Glass.

We demoed this during the Windows Server 2008 roadshow we did with Windows IT Pro magazine in 2007 by using the GPU pass-through features of Virtual PC of all things. The performance sucked, but there are still no other GPU pass-through technologies on Windows...

All that being said, they MIGHT have overhauled Desktop Composition behind the scenes, but nothing looks different to me so far from what straight Windows Server 2008 can offer.


Rich, this is correct.  Desktop compositing is sending of commands to the client on how to construct the desktop, instead of sending bitmaps to the client.  Here is a very, very detailed document from MSDN:


BTW, Cisco WAAS does compress RDP.  There is a deployment guide for TS2008 with the WAAS, WAAS Mobile, ACE and other stuff.


Hoping somebody may be able to help shed further light here, or help clarify my understanding of the options.

So good RDP can be compressed and encrypted by Expand or Cisco WAAS. But so can ICA with Expand, I also found this for WAAS

I understand the argument that most people with likely look to Cisco first since they have it. However anybody have any idea on performance between the two?

Additionally, how does Citrix WanScaler/Repeater especially on the Netscaler hardware that so many ebusiness companies use, compare with ICA? Does it do anything for RDP. With the VPX virtual appliances, doesn't Citrix have an advantage, since desktop/app folks can get the same benefits/questionable better benefits with having to deal with Networking biggots who would want us to use their hardware product of choice? We can now simply improve usability with software.....


To add to my own questions after a little more reading :-) It seems VPX is only a load balancer today, not a Repeater. However I can see that the Repeater does have more intelligient i.e. adaptive functionality for ICA than standard Wan Accleraters, and avoides you having to tweak settings on the server side and letting the Repeater figure out the best way to deliver content. I also think the caching of content locally is a very powerful concept, especially if they ever make that virtual also.

So from I understand you can optimize RDP or ICA with most WAN acceleraters if you choose to explictely set it at the server. This approach worries me since what happens if you sometimes on the WAN and at other times on the LAN. i.e Session Roaming a major VDI use case. Hence the adaptive stuff seems very interesting to me, but I don't enough yet to be sure. Anything anybody can share would be great.


Brian, you asked if the full aero glass experience is available in 2008 R2 RDS. The answer is yes. I have a full RDS virtual environment (session hosts, web, session broker and gateway) in vmware server 2 and a windows 7 client (mstsc.exe 6.1.7127.0) and the full desktop experience works just fine on the client - just like Vista to Vista did.

BTW, as Patrick and Rich said, I thought Calista was virtualisation of the GPU and did fit into the Desktop Composition equation?


Typo in previous post: final "did" should be "didn't".