MSTSC.EXE - no more /console switch in RDC 6.1

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Happy New Year!  We're starting off 2008 with a significant post regarding changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008.  OK, it's not quite as dire as the title makes it out to be, but this is quite a significant change.  If you recall from our post on Session 0 Isolation, users can no longer connect to Session 0 on Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 by design.  On earlier builds of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, if you run mstsc /? from the command prompt, the following screen is displayed.  Note the section in red below.  If you use version 6.1 of the Remote Desktop Client included , in order to connect to the console session for Windows Server 2003, you should use the /admin switch instead.  RDC 6.1 is included with the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and RC
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Beta and RC


The /admin switch allows you to connect to an administrative session for Windows Server 2008.  As indicated above, it also connects you to the console session on Windows Server 2003.  If you are running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 or later, the following scenarios will return this error message:


  • In the RDC client UI, you specify Computer_name /console in the Computer box (where Computer_name represents the name of the remote computer to which you want to connect), and then click Connect.
  • In the .rdp file, you specify /console in the “full address” property, and then try to start the Remote Desktop connection.

So why is this important?  Obviously if you have shortcuts, applications or scripts that rely on the /console switch, they will be affected by this change.  One of the biggest impacts will be for administrators who connect to their servers using /console to perform application installations or maintenance.  This functionality will still be available, however you will just need to use the /admin switch.  There are also implications for developers who use the ConnectToServerConsole property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings interface.  There is a different interface and property that they will need to use - namely the ConnectToAdministerServer property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings6 interface.

The Terminal Services team has posted more information on their blog - the link is below.  As always, we welcome your feedback.  Until next time ...

Terminal Services Team Blog: Changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008

- CC Hameed

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MSTSC.EXE - no more /console switch in RDC 6.1

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  • Maybe I'm missing something here, but why remove the existing /console switch, why not alias it to the new /admin switch?

    Same goes for the RDP flag.

  • Thank you so much!

    It took me the whole evening to come to this solution. :)

    After upgrading to SP1 RC1 for Vista I could not get into the console anymore.

    with the /admin addon is works again!


  • Btw now I'm using: mstsc.exe /admin /console


  • Just noticed /console can be removed and the only option needed is /admin

    Thanks again :)

  • thank you for useful information and nice work ..

    good luck to you

  • If you're preparing yourself for Terminal Services in Server 2008, you should be aware that its new Session 0 isolation may change some application installations. Read this previous post, for more info on this change. It also changes the process whereby

  • I'm not seeing the /ADMIN switch work against a Windows 2003 Server with the MSTSC included in Vista SP1 RC.  It brings me to a new session on the server, not the console session.  If I run it with the /CONSOLE switch it does work (though this switch is not included in the help file).

  • Maybe I'm missing something here, but why remove the existing /console switch, why not alias it to the new /admin switch?

  • I Windows Server 2003 kan man starte en RDP sesjon for å logge på console. I W2K8 forsvinner /console parameteren som typisk benyttes med mstsc.exe. ...

  • I agree with @Brian and @The Dave. Why bother with changing the switch at all if the end result is the same thing?

  • tks for this fact, you save my brain!

  • This was a terrible idea to change the syntax of the /console switch. This caused our plant downtime because we thought we were still connecting to the console session of our 2003 servers as we always have, but since we installed XP SP3 on our client machines, we were not, and we ended up opening two copies of our application on the same machine, causing problems with production. I'm sure I won't be the only one with this issue.

    Bad decision, Microsoft. Very bad decision.

  • If your are using RWW on SBS 2003 you can modify the TSWEB.ASPX file to directly connect to the console session via Vista SP1 again.

    More info:

    It is written in german but you can follow the main part.

    You have to insert MSRdpClient.AdvancedSettings6.ConnectToAdministerServer = console

  • Since installing XP SP3, the functionality of mstsc has changed. I used to be prompted for credentials before actually connecting to a server. Then, once the correct information was entered, the server gave me the warning dialog, and when accepted, logged me into the system.

    Since I use multiple servers in multiple environments (multiple domains, and standalone), and since I also use a password manager with automatically generated passwords with a high complexity level, this was a great setup. I could copy/paste my passwords from the manager without ever exposing them to anyone (including myself).

    I also use a management tool that allows me to have hot keys assigned to various functions. Selecting a server and executing a hot key against it will automatically launch the following command - "C:\WINDOWS\system32\mstsc.exe /console "C:\admintools\Default.rdp" /v:%E% /w:1024 /h:768"

    This would launch against the servername (%E%), and use my default.rdp. The bonus to this setup was that my name (domain or computer)\username was prepopulated correctly. I did not need multiple .rdp files.

    With 6.1, this is gone. How do I regain this functionality?