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Windows 2008 R2 vs 2012

    Question

  • First of all, my experience with Windows Server 2012 overall has been great. Even though I still don’t see the point of not being able to ‘click’ on the small area where the start button used to be, but instead have to place the mouse pointer there to get the start menu, is beyond me. Think of a remote desktop session that’s not full screen, without using shortcuts, you gotto place your pointer pretty well to get the start menu to appear.

    Anyways, I can live with that, it’s a minor annoyance, but what is not a minor annoyance, is the changes is Remote Desktop Services. I’ve been reading all over the web about the fabulous new features (granted there are many great ones), but my experience is of a totally different sort.

    Let us the deploy the following:

    Let’s just assume we have set up AD, DNS, DHCP and Remote desktop licensing.
    2 HA Connection Brokers
    2 HA Remote Desktop Gateways
    2 HA Remote Desktop Web Access
    5 Remote Desktop Session hosts as a farm (Session Collection)

    We’ll put them all in the internal lan, having the gateways do their work for external access.

    So, what do we use this setup for? We install applications on all the RDSHs, identical applications, and we give access to the applications for clients using Remote Desktop Web Access and RemoteApp and Desktop Connection. 

    Our customers wants to connect using all their devices; phones, tablets, PC’s, MACs and so forth. None of our customers deviced/pcs are joined to the domain, so they’re all ‘external’ clients, accessing everything using the Remote desktop gateway.

    The clients are using both Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7/8.

    Ok, let’s start the processing of deploying this on Windows Server 2012:
    I do all the configuration from one of the brokers, which works pretty darn well with the new Server Manager.

    But unfortunately this is where it stops.

    Here is the list of the things that has been lost in translation from 2008 to 2012:

    1. Being able to publish both a full remote desktop session and remoteapps in the same session collection is not possible. This was possible in 2008 by a single click. 

    2. In 2008 we used the «Remote Control» (Shadowing) feature extensively to give customer support to our clients, this has been removed in 2012, with no apparent reason given, it’s not even mentioned anywhere, it’s just gone.

    3. When using the default standard deployment and adding all the certificates in the Deployment settings, you still get a warning when connecting, since it’s not adding any certificate to the RDSH, it’s using a self signed one. This was done in «Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration» before, but now it’s not possible using the new servermanager. Have I missed it?

    4. Most of our clients are still using Windows XP. In 2008 we deployed the Remoteapps using MSI’s, which in addition to placing remoteapps on the desktop, also added file associations. With 2012, MSI deployment is gone, so for Windows XP clients, which doesn’t have «Remoteapp and Desktop Connections» feature, they’re stuck using RD Web access, which doesn’t give you desktop icons, and doesn’t give you file associations.

    5. A long awaited feature that has been announced all over the web, was the ability to pin remoteapp programs. This feature never made it to Windows Server 2012 RTM, without any mention as to why. Why?

    6. User Profile Disks. While the idea behind this is brilliant, I believe it's still far from being a mature feature:

    - The VHD's are not named by username, or atleast give the opportunity to pick a naming convention.

      - How do we use File Server Resource Manager on it to apply quotas?

    - If the initial size is set to eg 20GB, and the users requires an additional 20 GB, how do you expand it without the user losing data or connection to it?

    - Same UNC path for two different session collections is not possible. Why is this a problem? Because of my issue nr 1 above. As a solution to nr 1, being able to give users a full desktop, it requires us to set up another session collection which has eg 2 RDSH's configure d with the same identical applications as the 5 serving remoteapps. Those 2 would serve as the desktop collection, and the other as remoteapp collections. But since they can't use the same profile disks, it's pretty much a useless workaround for issue nr 1.

    Hopefully someone from MS can comment on these, i'm hoping there is a reasonable explanation behind it, since it was all possible in 2008 (except for the profile disks and pinning ofcourse).

    Thank you



    • Edited by Kjartis Sunday, October 07, 2012 11:01 PM
    Sunday, October 07, 2012 11:00 PM

Answers

  • Hi,

    1. Being able to publish both a full remote desktop session and remoteapps in the same session collection is not possible. This was possible in 2008 by a single click. 

    A:  Please see my response to your other post on this issue for a possible workaround.

    2. In 2008 we used the «Remote Control» (Shadowing) feature extensively to give customer support to our clients, this has been removed in 2012, with no apparent reason given, it’s not even mentioned anywhere, it’s just gone.

    A:  I am working on providing information on potential alternatives to Remote Control/shadowing.  When I have more information I will post it.  I have seen a post by Microsoft suggesting to use SCCM, however, I have not tried it.

    3. When using the default standard deployment and adding all the certificates in the Deployment settings, you still get a warning when connecting, since it’s not adding any certificate to the RDSH, it’s using a self signed one. This was done in «Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration» before, but now it’s not possible using the new servermanager. Have I missed it?

    A:  Please see my response to your other thread regarding how to add the certificate to each RDSH.  For best results a RDP8 client should be used when connecting to a Server 2012 RDSH server.  A RDP8 client will work fine if you have properly configured the certificates using the capabilities of Server Manager.

    4. Most of our clients are still using Windows XP. In 2008 we deployed the Remoteapps using MSI’s, which in addition to placing remoteapps on the desktop, also added file associations. With 2012, MSI deployment is gone, so for Windows XP clients, which doesn’t have «Remoteapp and Desktop Connections» feature, they’re stuck using RD Web access, which doesn’t give you desktop icons, and doesn’t give you file associations.

    A:  As you already know, MSI support was removed, unfortunately.  A suggested workaround would be to develop your own installer packages that do the same thing the msi ones created by RemoteApp Manager did.  Once you get the basic template working it should be relatively easy to make the packages for all of your different RemoteApps.

    There are free packages that will allow you to create install exes.  The msi basically copies the .rdp file to the local PC, creates start menu and desktop shortcuts, and creates file associations.

    5. A long awaited feature that has been announced all over the web, was the ability to pin remoteapp programs. This feature never made it to Windows Server 2012 RTM, without any mention as to why. Why?

    A:  There has not been an official announcement that I am aware of as to why the ability to pin RemoteApps was dropped.  I will speculate that due to market pressures/strategy the decision was made that Windows 8/Server 2012 needed to ship when they did and that certain features were not fully ready in time and thus had to be removed.

    6. User Profile Disks. While the idea behind this is brilliant, I believe it's still far from being a mature feature:

    - The VHD's are not named by username, or atleast give the opportunity to pick a naming convention.

      - How do we use File Server Resource Manager on it to apply quotas?

    - If the initial size is set to eg 20GB, and the users requires an additional 20 GB, how do you expand it without the user losing data or connection to it?

    - Same UNC path for two different session collections is not possible. Why is this a problem? Because of my issue nr 1 above. As a solution to nr 1, being able to give users a full desktop, it requires us to set up another session collection which has eg 2 RDSH's configure d with the same identical applications as the 5 serving remoteapps. Those 2 would serve as the desktop collection, and the other as remoteapp collections. But since they can't use the same profile disks, it's pretty much a useless workaround for issue nr 1.

    A:  A manual way to do it would be to use Hyper-V gui to expand the vhdx, next right-click on the file and Mount it, then use Disk Management to Expand the volume, finally right-click and Eject (dismount). This would need to done while the user is logged off.  For many users you would need to write a script to expand the size of the vhdx files and then expand the volume within them.

    -TP

    • Marked as answer by Kjartis Monday, October 08, 2012 6:40 AM
    Monday, October 08, 2012 6:22 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

    1. Being able to publish both a full remote desktop session and remoteapps in the same session collection is not possible. This was possible in 2008 by a single click. 

    A:  Please see my response to your other post on this issue for a possible workaround.

    2. In 2008 we used the «Remote Control» (Shadowing) feature extensively to give customer support to our clients, this has been removed in 2012, with no apparent reason given, it’s not even mentioned anywhere, it’s just gone.

    A:  I am working on providing information on potential alternatives to Remote Control/shadowing.  When I have more information I will post it.  I have seen a post by Microsoft suggesting to use SCCM, however, I have not tried it.

    3. When using the default standard deployment and adding all the certificates in the Deployment settings, you still get a warning when connecting, since it’s not adding any certificate to the RDSH, it’s using a self signed one. This was done in «Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration» before, but now it’s not possible using the new servermanager. Have I missed it?

    A:  Please see my response to your other thread regarding how to add the certificate to each RDSH.  For best results a RDP8 client should be used when connecting to a Server 2012 RDSH server.  A RDP8 client will work fine if you have properly configured the certificates using the capabilities of Server Manager.

    4. Most of our clients are still using Windows XP. In 2008 we deployed the Remoteapps using MSI’s, which in addition to placing remoteapps on the desktop, also added file associations. With 2012, MSI deployment is gone, so for Windows XP clients, which doesn’t have «Remoteapp and Desktop Connections» feature, they’re stuck using RD Web access, which doesn’t give you desktop icons, and doesn’t give you file associations.

    A:  As you already know, MSI support was removed, unfortunately.  A suggested workaround would be to develop your own installer packages that do the same thing the msi ones created by RemoteApp Manager did.  Once you get the basic template working it should be relatively easy to make the packages for all of your different RemoteApps.

    There are free packages that will allow you to create install exes.  The msi basically copies the .rdp file to the local PC, creates start menu and desktop shortcuts, and creates file associations.

    5. A long awaited feature that has been announced all over the web, was the ability to pin remoteapp programs. This feature never made it to Windows Server 2012 RTM, without any mention as to why. Why?

    A:  There has not been an official announcement that I am aware of as to why the ability to pin RemoteApps was dropped.  I will speculate that due to market pressures/strategy the decision was made that Windows 8/Server 2012 needed to ship when they did and that certain features were not fully ready in time and thus had to be removed.

    6. User Profile Disks. While the idea behind this is brilliant, I believe it's still far from being a mature feature:

    - The VHD's are not named by username, or atleast give the opportunity to pick a naming convention.

      - How do we use File Server Resource Manager on it to apply quotas?

    - If the initial size is set to eg 20GB, and the users requires an additional 20 GB, how do you expand it without the user losing data or connection to it?

    - Same UNC path for two different session collections is not possible. Why is this a problem? Because of my issue nr 1 above. As a solution to nr 1, being able to give users a full desktop, it requires us to set up another session collection which has eg 2 RDSH's configure d with the same identical applications as the 5 serving remoteapps. Those 2 would serve as the desktop collection, and the other as remoteapp collections. But since they can't use the same profile disks, it's pretty much a useless workaround for issue nr 1.

    A:  A manual way to do it would be to use Hyper-V gui to expand the vhdx, next right-click on the file and Mount it, then use Disk Management to Expand the volume, finally right-click and Eject (dismount). This would need to done while the user is logged off.  For many users you would need to write a script to expand the size of the vhdx files and then expand the volume within them.

    -TP

    • Marked as answer by Kjartis Monday, October 08, 2012 6:40 AM
    Monday, October 08, 2012 6:22 AM
  • Thank you very much for your feedback on these :)

    Monday, October 08, 2012 6:41 AM