Terminal Services RemoteApp – Bumps in the Road

This month I’ve been trying to nudge the project of moving to Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services RemoteApp forward at the office. The goal is to get away from using a version of Citrix Presentation Server to access applications over the Internet. The needs of our office have changed and the new features with Terminal Services in Server 2008 make this something we want to adopt instead.

However, nothing is without an occasional bump in the road. Here a couple of ours:

Bump #1No way to filter which applications users see on the RemoteApp webpage.

I know this feature was added in Server 2008 R2. Unfortunately, we have to stick with the Server 2008 “classic” due to an important 32-bit application that does not install or run properly under WoW. We debated the importance of filtering the application list and decided it wasn’t a deal breaker. Or we can look at some third-party workarounds.

Bump #2Users with passwords set to “enforce change at next logon” can’t get past the TS Gateway.

We have to remember to handle first time password changes for users who only be using RemoteApp by NOT checking the enforcement box and instructing them on how to change there password after they launch an application. (CNTL + ALT + END does the trick from any launched application.)

Bump #3 No support for Macs with the Mac version of the RDC client.

Ouch. We only have a few employees that use a Mac at home and we’ll have to continue offering GoToMyPC to meet their needs. Not what I’d like to do, but hopefully support for the Mac will come along soon.

Bump #4Limitations with multi-monitor support.

Microsoft KB925876 gives some of the details of what type of multi-monitor support is available with Server 2008 Terminal Services and should automatically support spanning if your monitors meeting the configuration requirements. Those rules are: the total resolution on all monitors must be under 4096 x 2048 pixels; the monitors must have the same resolution; the monitors must be aligned side-by-side; and the far left screen has to be the primary one.

This is pretty limiting, especially if you have a laptop connected to an external monitor and want to take advantage of both screens. Or have monitors set up in configuration where one is turned vertically. Or any other number of possible configurations. Windows 2008 R2 improves on this as well, but as noted in #1, we just can’t quite use that yet.

So yes, we’ve got a few bumps, but nothing that would keep us moving forward with the project at this point. Our remote access isn’t supposed to be used by someone as a long-term way to work, nor is used with a frequency that demands extra capital expenditures to overcome a few relatively minor issues.

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2 thoughts on “Terminal Services RemoteApp – Bumps in the Road

  1. Having been working with this product myself recently, I can address a couple of your bumps.

    1. If you're referring to limiting which apps each user has, you can assign apps to a limited set of users or groups server-side. If an app is not assigned to a user, they should not see it on the web interface.

    3. There is no official mac support. However, workarounds have been found. Specifically, if you use the “Create .udp” option for an app, then modifiy that UDP with the mac RDC client (by setting “Start the following application” as documented here: http://wss-id.org/blogs/narenda/archive/2008/03/05/my-windows-server-2008-ts-session.aspx#31624), you can allow mac access. However, we have had only limited success with applications which require admin elevation.

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