John Howard - Senior Program Manager in the Hyper-V team at Microsoft

Senior Program Manager, Hyper-V team, Windows Core Operating System Division.

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Windows Management through Remote Desktops Snap-in. Save space on your TaskBar

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I was speaking to a customer this morning about Windows management generally and this happened to come up in conversation. There are many ways to manage servers remotely in Windows, but the customer was asking if there was a way to avoid his nightmare of having six or more remote desktop sessions open to different servers. The RDP client by default isn't an MDI (Multiple Document Interface) application. [By the way, I never use Start/Programs/Accessories/Communications/Remote Desktop Connection to start up the client - there's simply too many clicks involved. Start/Run/mstsc is a lot quicker :-)]

You can get round having multiple instances of the client application open by using the remote desktops snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console which available out of the box in Windows Server 2003. Unfortunately though, you don't get to see it directly under administrative tools.

To fire up this snap-in, perform the following actions:
- Start/Run/MMC
- From the File menu, select Add/Remove Snap-in
- Click the Add button
- Scan down the list to "Remote Desktops", select it, click add and then close
- Click OK

Once the Remote Desktops snap-in is added, you can right-click on "Remote Desktops" on the left hand side and start adding your favorite servers to be managed. Once you've got the console setup and running, remember to save it somewhere easy to find, such as your desktop. Now it's not a true MDI application as such, but it saves a lot of space on your task bar, and it's much easier to go straight to the right server with a simple click in the treeview on the left hand side.

Here's the link to find out more about Remote Desktops on the TechNet site. From the menu navigation on this site, up one notch will give you lots more information about Remote Administration generally.

 

Comments
  • You know, if you just go once to the "Start|Programs|Accessories|Communications|Remote Desktop Connection", you can right click and PIN it to the start menu. That's MUCH faster than the "Start\Run" solution for those of us that use mstsc daily...

  • Isn't this the wrong answer? If a customer wants to manage the Windows desktops in the organization, shouldn't they be pointed to REAL management products like SMS 2003 or MOM 2005?

  • Nice snap-in! How can I get it for Windows XP? Adminpak?

    >>[By the way, I never use Start/Programs/Accessories/Communications/Remote Desktop Connection to start up the client - there's simply too many clicks involved. Start/Run/mstsc is a lot quicker :-)]

    It is even faster if you add a file with the extension "rdp" to your desktop.

  • Im a big fan of the Remote Desktop MMC, but it has one major annoyance, you can't reorder the items it contains!

    Tim

  • instead of start run mstsc why not drag the rdp shortcut to your desktop! does not solve the mdi issue but oh well....

  • Hi Michael - you can install it under XP using the adminpak.msi from the Windows Server CD i386 directory. Use the SP1 version if you've got SP1 WS2003 servers to be administered. Once installed, you'll see "Remote Desktops" as an icon under Administrative Tools.

  • Tim - Yup, it is annoying. I'll feed this back to the product group, but I'd recommend you also take a moment to also let them know through www.windowsserverfeedback.com. If there's enough customer demand, it'll get changed :-)

    I also find it annoying that you can't capture the Windows key in the same way you can in a full-screen single RDP session. Oh well - small price to pay for a bit of space on the taskbar.

  • Hi Rod - it depends entirely on what you want to do. In the circumstances for the customer I was talking to, then the remote desktops snapin probably was the right solution - just a better way of doing what they already are doing but in a more efficient way. Yes, SMS and MOM are great products, but they don't address what the customer wanted here which was something far simpler. As it happened, the conversation was also immediately after a MOM2005 overview session they'd attended, so they'd already got the management message from that side :-)
    Regards,
    John.

  • John reminded me about Office Communicator RTM.  Here's the press release...
    You can get the ...

  • John, I stopped using the MMC remote desktop client because it gets unstable with more than a few concurrent sessions. The mouse cursor suddenly disappears and mouse clicks stop functioning inside remote desktop sessions. The only fix is to close the MMC then launch it again and log onto each session. Have you encountered this problem?

  • Hi Bill - No, I haven't seen this or any problem with the snap-in, apart from the frustrations I mentioned earlier. I've gone back to the MMC rather than seperate RDP sessions over the past few days since posting this to get better control over managing my rapidly growing home network. I've been almost permanently connected to three servers running in my loft here (still changing lots of things [;-)], four or five at times (including the Virtual Servers) with no problem at all. How many is your "few"? More than four/five?
    Cheers,
    John.

  • I dont see a way to connect to a port on an RDP server other than 3389. If I specify my port using a ':' in the 'add new connection' dialog in Remote Desktops snap-in, I get an error saying I cant use special characters...

    This is making it impossible for me to use the snap-in as only one of my servers uses the default port.

  • No - it doesn't appear that the remote desktops snapin allows you to use non-default ports. If this is important to you, I would strongly recommend putting back to the product group through www.windowsserverfeedback.com.
    Regards,
    John.

  • I agree wirh Brett.  This is a biggie since I've got 6 servers with 6 different ports so I can RDP through a router...

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