none
Windows Server 2012 Essentials - Remote Desktop Services

    Question

  • Hi Experts,

    I was hoping someone would be able to provide me with some guidance.

    We have recently purchased Windows Server 2012 Essentials as well as 5 RDP user CALS.

    We do not have a domain or any other servers. We only require 5 people from various locations to be able to remotely log into the server and work on a program that is installed on it.

    However, the setup and configuration of the Remote Desktop Services did not go as planned. After many attempts and various configuration settings, it still doesn't work.

    What I am lead to believe is that the Essentials version of Server 2012 doesn't support being the RDP Gateway and License Server and Host. However, nowhere can I confirm this, I have searched many forums where people are experiencing the same problems, but nowhere can I find answers.

    If there is anyone out there that might be able to shed some light and maybe point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Wynand.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:44 AM

Answers

  • Hi Wynand,

    Essentials only supports 2 Active sessions, regardless of how many RDS CALs you own.

    In order to use Server 2012 RDS the way it was intended, you need to have a 2012 server joined to a domain (not a DC).  This implies a minimum of two servers, one for a DC, and one for RDS, which both can be VMs.

    You could install Server 2012 Standard and install the RD Session Host and RD Licensing Role Services without joining it to a domain, but you will not be able to use the Server Manager RDS gui to manage it, or publish RemoteApps, or have collections, as well as some other features will not work.  You will need to use a combination of local group policy, wmi, registry edits, etc., to configure settings.  In this scenario there is no need for hyper-v to be installed.

    A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow you to install it on the physical server, install Hyper-V, and then create two VMs, both running Server 2012 Standard.  That way one of the VMs could be a DC, and the second VM could have RDS with your 5 users running within.

    Setting up your servers as VMs is generally (not always) the preferred way and has many benefits.  For example, say you need a more powerful server in the future.  If you have your servers as VMs it is quick and easy to purchase a new server and export/import the VMs to it--no need to reinstall applications.

    -TP

    Friday, June 21, 2013 2:35 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi Wynand,

    Windows Server 2012 Essentials only supports a maximum of two Active sessions, including someone logged on to the physical console.  For example, you could have two Active users connected remotely via rdp, but no one logged on to the physical console, or one remote user and one at the console.  These two sessions are used for administration purposes.  Additionally, you cannot have the RD Connection Broker Role Service installed on your Essentials server since it is a AD domain controller.

    You may use the Remote Web Access feature to access PCs on your internal network (including the server) via Remote Desktop from outside of the office.

    If you need to have 5 users logged on to the server via Remote Desktop then you will need to have a separate Server 2012 (not Essentials) for this purpose.  This does not need to be a separate physical machine.  For example, you could have Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V installed on the physical box, with two VMs:  one VM running Essentials and a second VM running Server 2012 Standard with RDS Role Services.  A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow the above since it allows two virtual instances plus physical for hyper-v only.

    -TP

    • Proposed as answer by Tomas Hidalgo Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:04 AM
    Thursday, June 20, 2013 1:45 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Wynand,

    Windows Server 2012 Essentials only supports a maximum of two Active sessions, including someone logged on to the physical console.  For example, you could have two Active users connected remotely via rdp, but no one logged on to the physical console, or one remote user and one at the console.  These two sessions are used for administration purposes.  Additionally, you cannot have the RD Connection Broker Role Service installed on your Essentials server since it is a AD domain controller.

    You may use the Remote Web Access feature to access PCs on your internal network (including the server) via Remote Desktop from outside of the office.

    If you need to have 5 users logged on to the server via Remote Desktop then you will need to have a separate Server 2012 (not Essentials) for this purpose.  This does not need to be a separate physical machine.  For example, you could have Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V installed on the physical box, with two VMs:  one VM running Essentials and a second VM running Server 2012 Standard with RDS Role Services.  A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow the above since it allows two virtual instances plus physical for hyper-v only.

    -TP

    Hi TP,

    Thank you for your response.

    just a few more questions;

    You say that I cannot have the RD Connection broker installed because it is an AD domain controller? What if it is not the domain controller, wouldn't that work? Or is it just as simple as to say that the Essential 2012 version doesn't support more that 2 RDP connections even when you have licenses for it?

    My second question is, To have Server 2012 (Not essentials) with Hyper V installed, would I still need to have two VM's running just to het 5 people connected? Or can I have just that, and install my program directly on there so users can log in and use it?

    The actual end result we are looking for is simply to have 5 people connected concurrently, doesn't matter what OS they log onto, but it still needs to be onto the same machine. We are obviously also looking to save costs wherever possible. I do not want to go and buy Server 2012 Standard if there is another way of doing this. Even if there is maybe different software out there that allows this.

    Thanks again,

    Wynand.

    Friday, June 21, 2013 9:49 AM
  • Hi Wynand,

    Essentials only supports 2 Active sessions, regardless of how many RDS CALs you own.

    In order to use Server 2012 RDS the way it was intended, you need to have a 2012 server joined to a domain (not a DC).  This implies a minimum of two servers, one for a DC, and one for RDS, which both can be VMs.

    You could install Server 2012 Standard and install the RD Session Host and RD Licensing Role Services without joining it to a domain, but you will not be able to use the Server Manager RDS gui to manage it, or publish RemoteApps, or have collections, as well as some other features will not work.  You will need to use a combination of local group policy, wmi, registry edits, etc., to configure settings.  In this scenario there is no need for hyper-v to be installed.

    A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow you to install it on the physical server, install Hyper-V, and then create two VMs, both running Server 2012 Standard.  That way one of the VMs could be a DC, and the second VM could have RDS with your 5 users running within.

    Setting up your servers as VMs is generally (not always) the preferred way and has many benefits.  For example, say you need a more powerful server in the future.  If you have your servers as VMs it is quick and easy to purchase a new server and export/import the VMs to it--no need to reinstall applications.

    -TP

    Friday, June 21, 2013 2:35 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi TP,

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. Your help was very useful!

    Thanks,

    Wynand.

    Monday, June 24, 2013 7:18 AM
  • Hy Wynand,

    So... what did you do?

    If you need to have 5 users logged on to the server via Remote Desktop then you will need to have a separate Server 2012 (not Essentials) for this purpose.  This does not need to be a separate physical machine.  For example, you could have Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V installed on the physical box, with two VMs:  one VM running Essentials and a second VM running Server 2012 Standard with RDS Role Services.  A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow the above since it allows two virtual instances plus physical for hyper-v only.

    The moderator in thread suggested buying a single Server 2012 Standard to install on bare Server?  Then create 2 VM's - one running Essentials, the second running Standard with RDS CALs (so, buy THREE Server 2012 licenses? 2 Standard and 1 Essentials?)

    Sounds expensive.  Look forward to learning about what you did.  

    Note to Moderator:  Any change(s) now that Windows Server 2012 R2 is available for trial?


    • Edited by Steve.Schultz Monday, July 08, 2013 5:11 PM clarification
    Monday, July 08, 2013 5:05 PM
  • Steve.Schultz,

    In my example I am only suggesting that a single Server 2012 Standard license be purchased, which covers the bare server and the 2 VMs.

    -TP

    Tuesday, July 09, 2013 3:42 AM
    Moderator
  • Why would anyone want Essentials or Foundation then?  Oh boy, you get 25 or 15 cal's, but look what you give up.
    NO RDP, NO HYPER-V with either product.  If you want to use those CAL's, you have to format your server, because
    they only come OEM.  Cal's are $27 each at Dell.   IMHO, both products are scams.  You purchase Foundation or Essentials because you think its a deal and are hypnotized by all the 0365 and "The Drive", {formerly known as skydrive, Microsoft stole the name and has to give it back} it is supposed to tie into.  Only to find out you have to purchase 2012 Standard anyhow so you can have your RDP server.  So the "deal" is Microsoft gets to sell you two licenses.  A worthless Essentials or Foundation License, and a genuine copy of Server 2012 Standard.   Why we are at it, why would any one want 2012 anyhow?  They stripped the 5 CALS that always came with the server product, so its $136 more than 2008R2. 
    Here are the gotcha's with 2012... BEWARE:

    1.) You cannot install RDP services or gateway on a 2012 Domain Controller
    2.) You cannot install Exchange on a 2012 Domain Controller
    3.) You cannot install RDP on the same server with Exchange
    4.) Your new $700 server Download (there are no CDs anymore)  does not come with any CAL's.  They cost extra.

    So, with 2012 you need THREE servers or server instances.  (can we say needless complexity of setting up three VM's and a hyperV host?)
    When all these roles and services would install and play in perfect harmony on a single 2008R2 computer.  Thats right, one box.

    Now MS says, "we never supported that".  Of course, they are in the business of selling licenses.   "Its a security risk".  No, its not because with OU's and policies you can lock the terminal server RDP role down so tight as to not be a risk....   Uh... you could have a -man-in-the-middle attack if you do that.   Yes, that is true, but only a man-in-the middle, inside your own office.   For 96% of SOHO offices with 25 or less users, this is no real concern.

    I will use 2008R2 until MS comes up with a real deal that is not 3X the complexity and 2X the licensing fees as is 2012.  Maybe in 2016 they will get it right!


    • Edited by RickkeeC Monday, August 05, 2013 7:13 PM who cares
    Monday, August 05, 2013 7:11 PM
  • Why would anyone want Essentials or Foundation then?  Oh boy, you get 25 or 15 cal's, but look what you give up.
    NO RDP, NO HYPER-V with either product.  If you want to use those CAL's, you have to format your server, because
    they only come OEM.  Cal's are $27 each at Dell.   IMHO, both products are scams.  You purchase Foundation or Essentials because you think its a deal and are hypnotized by all the 0365 and "The Drive", {formerly known as skydrive, Microsoft stole the name and has to give it back} it is supposed to tie into.  Only to find out you have to purchase 2012 Standard anyhow so you can have your RDP server.  So the "deal" is Microsoft gets to sell you two licenses.  A worthless Essentials or Foundation License, and a genuine copy of Server 2012 Standard.   Why we are at it, why would any one want 2012 anyhow?  They stripped the 5 CALS that always came with the server product, so its $136 more than 2008R2. 
    Here are the gotcha's with 2012... BEWARE:

    1.) You cannot install RDP services or gateway on a 2012 Domain Controller
    2.) You cannot install Exchange on a 2012 Domain Controller
    3.) You cannot install RDP on the same server with Exchange
    4.) Your new $700 server Download (there are no CDs anymore)  does not come with any CAL's.  They cost extra.

    So, with 2012 you need THREE servers or server instances.  (can we say needless complexity of setting up three VM's and a hyperV host?)
    When all these roles and services would install and play in perfect harmony on a single 2008R2 computer.  Thats right, one box.

    Now MS says, "we never supported that".  Of course, they are in the business of selling licenses.   "Its a security risk".  No, its not because with OU's and policies you can lock the terminal server RDP role down so tight as to not be a risk....   Uh... you could have a -man-in-the-middle attack if you do that.   Yes, that is true, but only a man-in-the middle, inside your own office.   For 96% of SOHO offices with 25 or less users, this is no real concern.

    I will use 2008R2 until MS comes up with a real deal that is not 3X the complexity and 2X the licensing fees as is 2012.  Maybe in 2016 they will get it right!


    I Agree,

    I cannot express in words the frustration I had to go through in setting up the 3 instances of Server 2012 Standard. And that for a company that has 12 users, and only 4 wants to be able to log in remotely to do their work. My biggest problem with MS is the fact that no-where, and I mean NO-WHERE is it properly documented what the exact requirements are to set up a very basic Remote Access Server. I am still battling with the 3 instances and I followed all the online forums available.

    It sucks that Microsoft has to complicate things that was working perfectly in previous versions!!

    Tuesday, August 06, 2013 6:47 AM
  • Wow, such hostility! I know this thread is a few months old, but I wanted to give a second opinion to the previous two posts, for those of you who get here by searching (as I just did.)

    With Server 2012 you have the downgrade right to a previous version or a lesser version. I am not a certified Microsoft licensing expert, but the way I see it, you can utilize your 1+2 benefits thusly:

    Purchase a Server 2012 Standard license (OEM, Volume Licensing or FPP) and use it to create a Hyper-V host. Then, use one of your 2 virtual licenses to stand up a Server 2012 Essentials VM. Use your second virtual license to create another Server 2012 Standard with the RDS role enabled.

    When the system is configured, the RDS server should be accessible through the Essentials dashboard/front end via Remote Web Access, just like a desktop PC would be. You will have to purchase RDS CALs to access the RDS server (I still want to call it a terminal server), but you should also be able to host Remote App and all of the other goodies that come with RDS.

    (Another thread I saw mentioned that you may have to purchase separate user CALs for the second server, but I don't think that is the case.)

    As an added twist, with Server 2012 R2, MS changed the licensing with Essentials. You are now allowed to create a physical Hyper-V host on which to locate a virtualized Essentials server. In my previous scenario, I don't see where this would be a benefit, but if you just want the benefit of virtualization, now you will have it for no extra cost with the 2012 R2 version.

    I still think Microsoft "screwed the pooch" by cancelling Small Business Server Standard, but it is now a moot point. The Essentials product gives customers the main feature they wanted in SBS which is a robust remote access to their desktops and with RWA being built from the core of RDS, it actually give a user or consultant a lot of latitude in what they can configure with this inexpensive server.

    Just my $.02.

    Sunday, February 02, 2014 8:07 PM
  • Hi!

    RDP is avaiable on Foundation up to 50 connections, not available on Essentials.

    Both versions are made for small business (like us) where only 1 server is needed with no hyper-v, exchange, domain controller, or something else, just to serve local applications and as a file and printer server, so the cost goes minimal, actually foundation is the 25% of standard :)

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:13 PM
  • This would be true if you do not make your Foundation server a Domain Controller.
    My understanding is that Remote Desktop Services (RDS) cannot be installed on a server with the DC role.
    That's what all the fuss is about.  With Server 2008 and R2, you can do it (not recommended), but it works like a dream come true.  With Server 2012 it will give you and error.  You can force the role down its pipes, but it breaks other stuff, as described elsewhere in this thread.   With Foundation, you can have two Administrator accounts that can access RDS at the same time, but that's it.  Two, and they have to be admins.  I am guessing you have not tried to install the role or licensing server, or activate Remote Web Apps, or you would be crying like the rest of us as we expend our valuable time setting up VM's for RDS.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:50 PM
  • Well Said RickkeeC!

    I LITERALLY spent months trying to get it to work without having to purchase the standard version of Server 2012. Even though Microsoft claims that Essentials work with RDS they don't specify that you need a second server (DC) to manage it all. I eventually bought the Standard version, and even with that, you need at least one VM together with the actual machine in order to setup a proper RDS environment.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:46 AM