WS2008: Overview of the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) Client

WS2008: Overview of the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) Client

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Day Eighteen is upon us.  We are two-thirds of the way through our series of posts.  Today we'll be doing a brief overview of the new Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) Client 6.x.  We've discussed several new features in Terminal Services for Windows Server 2008.  Many of these features require the use of the updated RDC client.  The table below shows the availability of the RDC 6.x client for various platforms:

Platform Client
Windows Vista
Windows Server 2008
The RDC 6.x client application is included with the operating system and is installed by default
Windows XP Remote Desktop Connection 6.x for Windows XP is available for download from the Microsoft website
Windows Server 2003 Remote Desktop Connection 6.x for Windows Server 2003 is available for download from the Microsoft website
Mac OS X The Remote Desktop Connection client for Macintosh is available for download from the Microsoft website.  Please note that the Macintosh RDC client will not support the following Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services features:

  • TS Gateway
  • PNP Device Redirection
  • RemoteApp
  • Session Directory
  • XPS Printing
  • As with previous versions of the client, you can save configuration settings for Terminal Services connections as a Remote Desktop Protocol (.rdp) file.  An RDP file contains all of the information and settings for a connection to a Terminal Server, excluding user credentials.  The default connection file, Default.rdp, is an empty hidden file that stored in the Documents folder of the user profile.  RDP files created using the Save As option are not hidden.

    In Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, passwords are no longer stored in .RDP files.  They are stored and managed by the Credential Manager (CredMan).  In Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, the Remote Desktop Connection UI also allowed passwords to be stored for a specific Terminal Server or remote computer.  These passwords are stored using the Data Protection API's in .RDP files in the My Documents folder on these platforms.

    There are several parameters and switches that can be passed to the Remote Desktop Connection Client (MSTSC.EXE).  The table below outlines these parameters and switches:

    Parameter Description
    <Connection File> Specifies the name of an .rdp file for the connection.
    /v:<Server[:<Port>] Specifies the remote computer and, optionally, the port number to which you want to connect.
    /admin Connect to a WS08 Terminal Server as an administrator.  A Client Access License (CAL) is not used when this switch is used.  Only two concurrent /admin connections are allowed per Terminal Server.
    /console No longer used - see our post regarding the deprecation of the /console switch for more details
    /f Start Remote Desktop Connection in full-screen mode
    /w: <width> Specifies the width of the Remote Desktop window
    /h <height> Specifies the height of the Remote Desktop window
    /public Runs Remote Desktop in public mode - passwords and bitmaps are not cached
    /span Matches the Remote Desktop width and height with the local virtual desktop, spanning across multiple monitors if necessary
    /edit <connection file> Opens the specified .RDP file for editing
    /migrate Migrates legacy connection files that were created with Client Connection Manager to new .rdp connection files
    /? Displays help at the command prompt

    Just a short post today to whet your appetite.  After all, it is Monday!  Tomorrow we'll go over some aspects of the Remote Desktop Connection Client Architecture.  Until next time ...

    - CC Hameed

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    • have a question. when i create an rdp file and then click on it to access the remote site, how do i append the switches to the command line?

    • Will the OS X RDP client eventually support RemoteApp?

    • The OSX version of RDC says: "This beta version of Remote Desktop Connection is out of date. You are using a beta version of Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2.0. We recommend upgrading to the final release version. You can download the latest version of RDC at"

      BUT THIS IS A LIE! There is no final release version on the M$ site. Why are you implementing a timeout and don't offer at least a replacement version?

      Because of this annoying message, my .rdc files for various connections do not work anymore, RDC only remembers the login credentials of a single server now.

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE offer at least a timeout-fixed version if you are not able to provide a final version.

    • Mac version Beta 3 was released April 10, 2008 and it doesn't have an expiration.

    • We have installed ForeFront Client security in a single server topology. The OS is Win 2003 Server R2 SP2 and three concurrent /admin connections are allowed in this Terminal Server. Can anyone explain how?

      When we tried more sessions, it failed, but three is working perfectly.

    • i am upgrading all the monitor to LCD, all users are currently using RDP 6.x, the default setting on the LCD's will be 1280x1024 at 32bit colour, i am wanting to use the RDP client in full screen. Now for the question

      WAN bandwidth requirements for TS clients:

      1024x768 at 16bit colour


      1280x1024 at 32bit colour

    • In answer to Netconfig's question about bandwidth, there is no straight answer. In absolute numbers, a 1024x16bbp resolution yields about 12,000,000 bits per screen, and a 1280x32bbp resolution works out to about 42,000,000 bits per screen, so the difference is huge. However, there is a lot of optimizing and bitmap caching going on, so what is actually happening on the screen makes the most difference. To see a real number, you can use a third-party app to measure both up and down bandwidth under both scenarios and compare. That is the only way to get a real idea of what the difference will be.

    • how do I keep the user from being able to right-click on the rdp file and seeing all the settings?  or alternately, keep them from being able to log into the terminal server without the program (thereby accessing the desktop).