Remote Desktop Services Design Guide

Updated: March 23, 2011

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1

Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) delivers full desktops and individual applications from a central server to a client computer, displaying them and receiving input as though the applications were running on the client computer rather than in the data center.

To access an RD Session Host server, a client computer must use the RDP client. This client is included in all current Windows operating systems and may also be installed as an update. Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client 7 is available for Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Windows Vista® with Service Pack 1 (SP1), and is included with Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2.

Microsoft® RemoteFX™ is a new feature that is included in Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). It introduces a set of end-user experience enhancements for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) that enable a rich desktop environment within your corporate network.

For more information about Remote Desktop Services and RemoteFX, see “What’s New in Remote Desktop Services for Windows Server 2008 R2” (

About this guide

This guide is intended for use by an infrastructure specialist or system architect. The guide provides recommendations to help you plan a new Remote Desktop Services deployment based on the requirements of your organization and the particular design that you want to create. It highlights your main decision points as you plan your Remote Desktop Services deployment. Before you read this guide, you should have a good understanding of your organizational requirements and the way Remote Desktop Services works.

This guide describes a set of deployment goals that are based on the primary Remote Desktop Services desktop and application delivery methods. It helps you determine the most appropriate delivery method and corresponding design for your environment. You can use these deployment goals to create a comprehensive design that meets the needs of your environment.

This guide provides guidance for designing the following Remote Desktop Services implementations:

Terminology used in this guide

The following are key concepts for understanding Remote Desktop Services.

  • RD Session Host: Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host), formerly Terminal Server, enables a server to host Windows-based programs or the full Windows desktop. Users can connect to an RD Session Host server to run programs, to save files, and to use network resources on that server.

  • RD Web Access: Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web Access), formerly TS Web Access, enables users to access RemoteApp and Desktop Connection through the Start menu on a computer that is running Windows 7 or through a Web browser.

  • RD Licensing: Remote Desktop Licensing (RD Licensing), formerly TS Licensing, manages the Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) that are required for each device or user to connect to an RD Session Host server. You use RD Licensing to install, issue, and track the availability of RDS CALs on a Remote Desktop license server.

  • RD Gateway: Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway), formerly TS Gateway, enables authorized remote users to connect to resources on an internal corporate network, from any Internet-connected device.

  • RD Connection Broker: Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RD Connection Broker), formerly TS Session Broker, supports session load balancing and session reconnection in a load-balanced RD Session Host server farm. RD Connection Broker is also used to provide users access to RemoteApp programs and virtual desktops.

  • RD Virtualization Host: Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RD Virtualization Host) integrates with Hyper-V to host virtual machines and provide them to users as virtual desktops. You can assign a unique virtual desktop to each user in your organization, or provide them shared access to a pool of virtual desktops.

  • RD Session Host running in Redirection Mode: For RD Virtualization Host scenarios, the RD Session Host running in redirector mode is a RD Session Host server that forwards incoming client connection requests to the RD Connection Broker. Any RD Session Host server may act as a redirector; the RD Session Host running in redirection mode forwards incoming connection requests to the RD Connection Broker.

  • Session: An interactive remote desktop, or application that is accessed locally. An RD Session Host server supports multiple concurrent sessions, and client operating systems support only one session at a time.

  • RemoteApp: RemoteApp are accessed remotely through Remote Desktop Services that appear as if they are running on the end user's local computer. In Windows Server 2008 R2, Remote Desktop Services provides administrators the ability to group and personalize RemoteApp programs as well as virtual desktops and make them available to end users on the Start menu of a computer that is running Windows 7.

  • Profile: The user profile contains user-specific information ranging from application settings to operating system configurations to (optionally) files stored in user-specific folders. Files can be removed from the user profile using folder redirection. For more information on folder redirection, see (

  • Remote Desktop Protocol: Remote Desktop Protocol is designed to provide remote display and input capabilities over network connections for Windows®-based applications between two computers.

  • Remote Desktop Connection: The client component allowing users to connect to remote system to run programs, to save files, and to use network resources on that system.

  • RDS Client Access License (RDS CAL): An RDS CAL is required for each device or user to connect to an RD Session Host server, RemoteApp program, or virtual desktop. RD Session Host servers can be configured to request per-device or per-user RDS CALs.

  • Microsoft RemoteFX: RemoteFX is an enhancement to the RDP protocol that enables the delivery of a full Windows user experience to a range of client devices including rich clients, thin clients, and ultrathin clients. RemoteFX delivers a rich user experience for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) by providing a 3D virtual adapter, intelligent codecs, and the ability to redirect USB devices in virtual machines. RemoteFX also delivers a rich user experience for session-based desktops.

  • RemoteFX Virtual 3D adaptor or Virtual graphics device: RemoteFX uses GPU Virtualization, a technology that exposes a virtual graphics device to a virtual machine, to expose a WDDM driver with the virtual desktop, and allows multiple virtual desktops to share a single GPU on a Hyper-V server. The virtual GPU is used to perform host side rendering of 3D and other content. This enables support for all graphics types by sending highly compressed bitmap images to the endpoint device in an adaptive manner.

  • RemoteFX Intelligent codecs: Intelligent codecs enable support for all graphics types by sending highly compressed bitmap images to the endpoint device in an adaptive manner.

For an overview of the RDS roles, see

For an overview of RemoteFX, see