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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Improvements for Thin Client Terminal Services

Windows 2008 has seen significant improvements in the Terminal Services capabilities for thin client access for remote users and managed users in the enterprise. What used to require third-party add-ons to make the basic Windows 2000 or 2003 Terminal Services functional, Microsoft has included those technologies into Windows 2008. These technologies include things such as the ability to access Terminal Services using a standard Port 443 SSL port rather than the proprietary Port 3389, or the ability to publish just specific programs instead of the entire desktop, and improvements in allowing a client to have a larger remote access screen, multiple screens, or to more easily print to remote print devices.

All of these improvements in Windows 2008 Terminal Services have made Terminal Services one of the easiest components to add to an existing Windows 2003 Active Directory to test out the new Windows 2008 capabilities, especially because the installation of a Windows 2008 Terminal Services system is just the addition of a member server to the domain and can easily be removed at any time.

All of these new improvements in Windows 2008 Terminal Services are covered in Chapter 25.

Improvements in RDP v6.x for Better Client Capabilities

The first area of significant improvement in Windows 2008 Terminal Services can be addressed in the update to the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) v6.x client, shown in Figure 1.10.

Figure 1.10

Figure 1.10 Remote Desktop Protocol client for Terminal Services.

The new RDP client provides the following:

  • Video support up to 4,096x2,048—Users can now use very large monitors across an RDP connection to view data off a Windows 2008 Terminal Services system.
  • Multimonitor support—Users can also have multiple monitors supported off a single RDP connection. For applications like computer-aided design (CAD), graphical arts, or publishing, users can view graphical information on one screen and text information on another screen at the same time.
  • Secured connections—The new RDP client now provides for a highly encrypted remote connection to a Terminal Services system through the use of Windows 2008 security. Organizations that need to ensure their data is protected and employee privacy is ensured can implement a highly secured encrypted connection between a Windows 2008 Terminal Services system and the remote client.

Terminal Services Web Access

Also new to Windows 2008 Terminal Services is a new role called Terminal Services Web Access, or TSWA. Terminal Services Web Access allows a remote client to access a Terminal Services session without having to launch the RDP 6.x client, but instead connect to a web page that then allows the user to log on and access their session off the web page. This simplifies the access method for users where they can just set a browser favorite to link them to a web URL that provides them Terminal Services access.

Terminal Services Gateway

Terminal Services Gateway (TS Gateway) is a new addition to Windows 2008 Terminal Services and provides the connectivity to a Terminal Services session over a standard Port 443 SSL connection. In the past, users could only connect to Windows Terminal Services using a proprietary Port 3389 connection. Unfortunately, most organizations block nonstandard port connections for security purposes, and, thus, if a user was connected to an Internet connection at a hotel, airport, coffee shop, or other location that blocked nonstandard ports, the user could not access Terminal Services.

Now with Terminal Services Gateway, the remote user to the Terminal Services Gateway connection goes over Port 443 just like surfing a secured web page. Because of the use of SSL in web page access (any time someone accesses a web page with https://), effectively now a user can access Windows 2008 Terminal Services from any location.

Terminal Services Remote Programs

Lastly, another new server role added to Windows 2008 is called Terminal Services Remote Programs (TS Remote Programs). Terminal Services Remote Programs allows administrators to "publish" certain applications for users to access. These applications could be things like Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, the company's time sheet tracking software, or a customer relationship management (CRM) program. Instead of giving users full access to a full desktop session complete with a Start button and access to all applications on the session, an organization can just publish a handful of applications that it allows for access.

Leveraging group policies and Network Policy Server, along with Terminal Services Remote Programs, the administrators of a network can publish different groups of applications for different users. So some users might get just Outlook and Word, whereas other users would get Outlook, Word, and the CRM application. Add in to the policy component the ability to leverage network location awareness (new to Windows 2008 covered in the earlier section "Improvements in the Group Policy Management"), the administrators of the network can allow different applications to be available to users depending on whether the user is logging on to the network on the LAN or from a remote location.

Beyond just limiting users to only the programs they should have access to by policy, Terminal Services Remote Programs minimizes the overhead for each user connection because the user no longer has a full desktop running, but only a handful of applications deemed necessary for the remote user's access.

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