Terminal Services

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Terminal Services

Terminal Services provides remote access to a Microsoft® Windows® desktop through "thin client" software, allowing the client computer to serve as a terminal emulator. Terminal Services transmits only the user interface of the program to the client. The client then returns keyboard and mouse clicks to be processed by the server. Each user logs on and sees only their individual session, which is managed transparently by the server operating system and is independent of any other client session. To connect to a computer via Terminal Services, use Remote Desktop Connection (the new Terminal Services client). For more information, see Remote Desktop Connection.

Terminal Server uses Terminal Services technology to provide an effective and reliable way to distribute Windows-based programs with a network server. With Terminal Server, a single point of installation allows multiple users access to the desktop of a computer running one of the Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003 family operating systems, where they can run programs, save files, and use network resources. Terminal Server is not installed by default. For more information about Terminal Server, see Terminal Server. (Terminal Server is not available on Windows Server 2003, Web Edition.)


  • It is not necessary to install Terminal Server for remote administration of your server. Remote Desktop for Administration is installed by default. To use Remote Desktop for Administration, you must first enable remote connections. For more information, see Enable or disable Remote Desktop. For more information about Remote Desktop for Administration, see Remote Desktop for Administration.

Terminal Server has its own method for licensing clients that log on to terminal servers, separate from the licensing method for clients running one of the Windows Server 2003 family operating systems. Clients must receive a valid license issued by a license server before they are allowed to log on to a Terminal Server. For more information about Terminal Server Licensing, see Terminal Server Licensing.

A Terminal Services connection provides the link clients use to log on to a session on the server. A TCP/IP connection is configured on port 3389 when Terminal Services is installed. Using Terminal Services Configuration, you can change the default properties of the connection, as well as other settings that apply to Terminal Services sessions. For more information about Terminal Services configuration, see Terminal Services Configuration.

User accounts can be set up and managed for a specific computer using Local Users and Groups or for a domain of computers using Active Directory Users and Computers. For more information about Terminal Services user properties, see Terminal Services User Properties.

Terminal Services Manager can be used to view information about terminal servers that reside in trusted domains. Use this tool to monitor users, sessions, and applications on each terminal server, and to carry out assorted actions to manage the server. For more information about Terminal Services Manager, see Terminal Services Manager.