Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Remote Desktop Management Server

Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Remote Desktop Management Server

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Welcome to Day 9 of our launch series, and the first of 4 covering RDS.  In todays post, we are going to cover the “Remote Desktop Management Server” (RDMS) interface for creating and managing a Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop environment.

What is RDMS?

In Windows Server 2008 R2, admins have had to use at least four different MMCs to manage a Remote Desktop Environment.  These include the following:

  • Remote Desktop Services Manager (tsadmin)
  • Remote Desktop Services Configuration (tsconfig)
  • Remote Desktop Connection Manager (sbmgr)
  • RemoteApp Manager (remoteprograms)

In Windows Server 2012, a single interface, Remote Desktop Management Server (RDMS), replaces all above snap-ins and provides centralized management of the Remote Desktop infrastructure.  RDMS is a plug-in to the new Server Manager in Windows Server 2012.

Additionally, Windows Server 2012 includes a new installation type, "Remote Desktop Services installation".  This new installation type makes deploying and managing your RDS infrastructure much simpler.  Connection Broker is a critical role in an RDS infrastructure that is installed when using the new type.  The RDMS service is also installed on the Connection Broker when the new method is used.  The RDMS service is the engine behind the new UI and cannot be installed using the classic "Role-based or feature-based installation" type.

Important: You should use the new RDS installation method, even in the case of a single Remote Desktop Session Host.  This is because RDS deployments can now only be managed through RDMS or via Windows PowerShell.  Standalone RDS implementations are possible, but they must be managed exclusively using Powershell.

We will not walk you through the installation process here, but it is pretty straightforward:

  1. Add the servers to which you want to deploy the RDS roles to All Servers group or a new server group.
  2. Select that group in the navigation pane and run the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
  3. Choose the installation type "Remote Desktop Services installation".
  4. Select "Standard Deployment" (Quick Deployment is used to quickly deploy all of the needed roles to a single server and then create a very simple collection.  To have more control, we recommend using Standard Deployment).
  5. Choose "Virtual Machine based deployment" or " Session-based desktop deployment".
  6. The wizard will ask you which server you want each role installed to and will perform the installations and restart the servers as needed.

After installing the RD Connection Broker role and the RDMS service using the new "Remote Desktop Services installation" type of installation, the RDMS UI can be accessed from Server Manager by choosing “Remote Desktop Services” in the navigation pane.


When you select Remote Desktop Services, there are three options in the middle pane:

  1. Overview
  2. Servers
  3. Collections

Let’s look at all three of them one by one.



Once the RDS Roles are installed on the Session Host servers and RD web access servers, we see the graphical description of our environment, the roles installed on each of the servers and the FQDN names of each server on the Overview page:


From this page additional servers can be added to the deployment and additional roles can be installed using the Deployment overview/Deployment Servers right-click options.  The Gateway and RD Licensing options are reflecting in Green as these roles are not yet installed but can be installed by clicking the Green Plus sign.




In order to add certificates, configure licenses and RD gateway settings we can “Edit Deployment Properties”.  Instead of touching every host that’s part of an RDS deployment, the RDMS server accepts a certificate and pushes it to each of the hosts for you.





The “Servers” page enables us to manage all of the servers belonging to the RDS Environment:


A variety of remote management tasks can be performed including adding roles and features.


Collection is a logical grouping of Remote Desktop Servers that provides either session-based or virtual machine-based (VDI) deployments.

Note Each Session host that’s a member of an RDS collection is limited to only participating in one collection.








In this example we’ve named the RDS Collection “RemoteApp”.  On the Collections Page we can see the number of connections, the connection states, which users have remote sessions and the servers on which the sessions are established:


If no Remote Apps are created for the collection, then on the RDWeb page users will see the icon with the name of our collection to take a full RDS session to the session host servers:


There is no separate Remote APP Manager snap-in to publish or modify remote app settings.  In Server 2012 we use the “Publish RemoteApp Programs” on the Collection Page to publish the remote apps.


To modify Remote App programs, there is an “Edit Properties” option under Tasks.  We can also right-click to reach this same Edit Properties option.  On the User Assignment screen admins can now create a folder in which the Remote Apps will be saved.  Prior to Server 2012, in large environments user would see all the remote apps listed on the main RDweb Page.  However, with the folder creation option, admins have the option to segregate the remote apps based on different criteria.






Here we have created two folders to differentiate between the Admin Apps (Server Manager) and User Remote Apps (Calculator).




Note After publishing Remote Apps, users no longer see the full desktop icon for RemoteApp (the name of the collection).  In Server 2008, users could see the remote apps as well the “remote desktop Icon” on the RDweb page if we checked the option “Show a remote Desktop connection to the RD session host server in RD web access” in the Remote App Manager.

In order to create a full desktop session to a server that is part of a collection that has RemoteApps published from the RDweb page, there are two options.

  1. Use the tab “connect to remote PC”
  2. Publish “Remote Desktop Connection” as a remote app


Configuring load balancing weight, security, encryption levels, Client settings and session limits can all be done from the Edit Collection Properties page.




RDMS is one-stop centralized management for RDS environments and is sure to help ease the administrative overhead by simplifying both the rollout and configuration of Remote Desktop Services for everyone.

This concludes part one of what’s new in RDS.  Tomorrow we take a close look at deploying Remote Desktop VDI environments!

-AskPerf blog Team

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  • In 2012, there appears to be no way whatsoever to configure the URL for RD Web Access, additionally there does not appear to be any way to turn on Remote Control for users sessions.  By default in 2012 unlike 2008 R2 Remote Control is disabled, and there appears to be no GUI way to turn it on.  Perhaps there is a powershell way but it does not seem to be documented anywhere on technet.

  • The Certificates configuration wizard doesn't seem to pick up existing certificates in the server's certificate store. Is there any programmatic way (such as PowerShell) to do so?

  • How do you add 2008 R2 terminal servers to the collection?

  • How do you add them in Windows 8 ??

  • To answer some of the comments:

    You cannot manage 2008 R2 or earlier RDS or TS from Windows Server 2012 RD Management console.

    The Certificates UI in 2012 is designed to deploy certificates to remote machines and add them to the correct store automatically.  It does not have a feature that will use a certificate that is already in the store, only a certificate that is already stored in the Connection Broker database.

  • Una pregunta tengo un solo servidor Win server 2012 Standart -- como  activo  RDM   y configuro  en el mismo el servidor de licencias.  me esta generando RD no configurado, faltan x dias. para hacerlo.    

  • Could you possible make this any more complicated?  I'm running a 2012 test server with RDS for Administration only.  All I want to do is figure out if another session is established.  Easy as pie in 2008R2.  Thanks for the "progress"!  I love having to relearn things that were previously perfectly easy and commonplace with new ideas that are neither.  Looks like I can still use my tools on 2008R2 to do what I need to do on my 2012 test server.

  • How to take Win Server 2012 Remote desktop from Win XP systems

  • i've installed the remote desktop service, client can connect. when i tried to create session collection localhost server (the RDS Host server itself) doesnt appear on server pool, whats wrong ?

    Installing RDS on windows server is more complicated on 2012 than 2008 R2 :(

  • Wow - that's a lot of work to just see who might have a disconnected RDC connection.  in 2008 R2 I could check that on any server in about 30 seconds.  Now I need to go in and either install all of this stuff of which 95% I don't need or go through a server addition to a group or not be able to have this knowledge.  What's the upside for me on my time?  How does this make me more productive?  

    Any chance I could just run a Powershell command to find out who has an open RDC session before I reboot?  Blogging that would be most helpful.    

  • Like some others who commented I landed on this page trying to figure out where in Server 2012 I can find tsadmin to answer the simple question: do any other admins have an open session on machine X?  And then how can I send them a message if I need to reboot the server?

    Someone suggested RDCMan is the answer to the first question and it does provide a list sessions feature.

    But it doesn't help me send a message, shadow a session or set a certificate on a server that is not intended to provide remote desktop services.  Administrators need to do these things on servers which are not RD hosts.

    I have to agree with Dave and Gtrapp.  Microsoft has made my job harder, again.  Another productivity sapping dehancement.  I was happy to read that the four tools had been combined but it seems instead of doing it in a useful way Microsoft did it the hard way.  Sigh.

  • I've just hit this issue after bouncing a server whilst someone else was logged on. There are two quick and easy ways to find out who else is logged on without having to install any Roles, Features or anything else.

    The Users tab in Task Manager or by typing quser at a command or powershell prompt.

  • Answers to some new questions:

    Andreas Tan - To be able to manage a Remote Desktop Services deployment from the UI, you will need to deploy it using the Remote Desktop Services Installation in the Add Roles and Features Wizard, as opposed to the Role-based or feature-based installation option. When you choose the RDS Installation option it installs Connection Broker, RDWeb, and either RDSH or RDVH depending on the next option you choose. This installation method installs a new service and UI plug-in called Remote Desktop Management Service (RDMS), which allows you to completely manage the entire deployment, create collections, etc. If you choose not to install using this method, you will not have a UI with which to manage the deployment and you would have to manage it using WMI or perhaps Powershell.

    Dave and Gtrapp - commands "query session" and "query user" will give you what you are looking for.

    Paul - Thanks for your response.

  • Gotta leave it to Microsoft to create a solution to a problem that didn't exist. I only need Terminal Services Manger (now Remote Desktop Services Manager). Now I have to install other 'features' that we'll never use, just so I can see what user is connected and perform the occasional disconnect.

    Great, thanks Microsoft! I'm trying to justify using your new OS and you're making it even harder!

  • This is a nightmare. Possibly the most NON user-intuitive interface since Windows 8. Everything is buried or unavailable. I really appreciate Microsoft making the simple things SO difficult. Can't even manage connection properties now - or can't find it. I hope Windows 2014 is better - because clients will be getting Server 2008 R2 from now until then since Microsoft can't figure out how people ACTUALLY USE their products. Very disappointed (as if you couldn't tell). I can only hypothesize that someone from Google or Apple has infiltrated Microsoft dev team and sabotaging all recent products in the hope that it will drive market share to the competitors - if this is true, it's working!