Explaining Microsoft RemoteFX

Explaining Microsoft RemoteFX

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Hi, my name is Max Herrmann, and I am part of the Windows Server Remote Desktop Services marketing team at Microsoft. Two years ago, Microsoft acquired Calista Technologies where I came from – a startup that set out to create technology that allows remote workers to enjoy the same rich user experience over a network as with a locally executing desktop. This experience includes full-fidelity video with 100% coverage for all media types and highly-synchronized audio, rich media support including Silverlight and 3D graphics, and of course Windows Aero. Today, Microsoft announced  during its Desktop Virtualization Hour that Microsoft RemoteFX, a platform feature being developed for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will bring a rich, connected user experience to the virtual desktop market. So what is RemoteFX, and how are Calista and RemoteFX related?


Just to be clear, RemoteFX is not a new standalone product from Microsoft. Rather, it describes a set of RDP technologies - most prominently graphics virtualization and the use of advanced codes - that are being added to Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1; these technologies are based on the IP that Microsoft acquired and continued to develop since acquiring Calista Technologies. So think of Microsoft RemoteFX as the ‘special sauce’ in Remote Desktop Services that users will be able to enjoy when they connect to their virtual and session-based desktops and applications over the network. With Microsoft RemoteFX, users will be able to work remotely in a Windows Aero desktop environment, watch full-motion video, enjoy Silverlight animations, and run 3D applications – all with the fidelity of a local-like performance when connecting over the LAN. Their desktops are actually hosted in the data center as part of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or a session virtualization environment (formerly known as Terminal Services). With RemoteFX, these users will be able to access their workspace via a standard RDP connection from a broad range of client devices – rich PCs, thin clients and very simple, low-cost devices.


Also today, we announced a collaboration agreement with Citrix, which will enable Citrix to integrate and use Microsoft RemoteFX within its XenDesktop suite of products and HDX. Microsoft RemoteFX is designed to integrate with partner solutions, and we expect solutions from Citrix and other partners to enable the fidelity of a RemoteFX-accelerated user experience for a broad range of environments.


With SP1 just now being announced (see Oliver's blog) but not available for a while, there will be many more details I will be able to share with you as we progress. This is just the beginning of an exciting time for centralized desktop computing and the benefits of the user experience enhancements that Microsoft RemoteFX will deliver for that architecture. Please stay tuned for great things to come, and check in on my blog every once in a while for the latest news. Meanwhile, I would encourage you to read up more on today’s announcements.


UPDATES: here are answers to your questions

Q: Will RemoteFx support also OpenGL hardware acceleration which is the 3D high level API used by professional applications like CAD systems or medical applications ?

A: RemoteFX will support certain OpenGL applications. However, as the development of RemoteFX is still ongoing, it is too early to provide any specifics at this point.


Q: Are you plan to introduce RemoteFX also for Windows 7 because their are many scenarios where the remote system is not a server but a high end workstation ?

A: RemoteFX has been designed as a Windows Server capability to support the growing demand for multi-user, media-rich centralized desktop environments. Windows 7 will be supported as a virtual guest OS under Hyper-V.



@mattspoon: Session virtualization, formerly known as Terminal Services, will also benefit from RemoteFX support in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

@fiddley: Windows 7 SP1 will have an updated RDP client to support RDP connections with RemoteFX. Unfortunately, it is too early for us to make any statements about future down level client support.

 @someone: With Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, RemoteFX will support both multi-user deployment scenarios in Remote Desktop Services: VDI and session virtualization (formerly known as Terminal Services). There will be an updated RDP client for end points.


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  • Will RemoteFX support a Non-Microsoft guest OS? Redhat Linux?

  • May I ask you that whether the RemoteApp support Local Printing and remote Printing ?

  • this would be nice rolled into Windows XP Mode, enhancing its RDP profile

  • I second Shawn's question. Are there any plans to allow us to virtualize our Media Center's through this technology? It would seemm, without testing, the only real limitation is Media Center's refusal to stream liveTV through an RDP session. I can see that microsoft's concern might be that end users wouldnt want to buy a license for Windows 2008 server, but I would assure you, if we could elimate the 5 PCs running Windows 7 and virtualize them to use a thin client, it would more than make sense financially, and the ultimate solution would be for Microsoft to include this functionality in the new Windows Home Server (I havent tested it yet, so I am not sure if Hyper-V is blocked there or not).

    Thank you for your time.

  • Is it possible to support Linux client?

  • Excellent post, but I have a question: Why is a windows 7 virtual machine required on the server to be able to use remotefx? Doesn’t windows server 2008 allow remotefx-enhanced desktop sessions?

  • What WMI classes can be used to configure RemoteFX on hyper-V?

  • I'm with Adam in asking does a Server 2008 R2 with DESKTOP EXPERIENCE let me use my 2 'Admin' RDP sessions with all the RemoteFX candy?

    Why am I the only software engineer in the world that seems to simply develop on a 2008 R2 server and in order to develop multimedia apps I have to REVERT to Windows 7. I mean I use Server 2008 R2 as my dev workstation. Oh never mind....

  • RE "Linux client?"

    I think 2X (http://www.2x.com) might make an RDP7 client and maybe also include RemoteFX too.

    They have their own client for linux and mac and it's way better that rdesktop.

    In a chat they told me RDP7 client is in the pipeline for Linux. fingers crossed.

  • RemoteFX will solve a number of problems for our organization and make the users much happier. But, what exactly does RemoteFX steal from? The benefit is a richer user experience without consuming more bandwidth. So, in a Terminal Server session will RemoteFX use the server based GPU or the server CPU or server RAM to consrve the bandwidth? Any idea what the impact will be on the MAX number of users on a Terminal Server. (I know this is based on the server hardware configuration but is RemoteFX a 10%-30% hit on the resources?)

    Any information or "unofficial" insight would be helpful.

  • How about a RemoteFX software client for the Xbox 360 that can tap into a RemoteFX server running on Windows 7 or MCE?  Then Xbox becomes an incredible (mostly)do-it-all set top box (movies, photos, Uverse, video, games, and with RemoteFX any desktop pc application).  How about it guys?

  • RemoteFX is a VDI only technology or it also works when connecting standard RDP client to RDP server?

    can you explain ?

  • So, just to be sure I got this, this will give Microsoft Windows the same ability to forward a GUI desktop session like XWindows has?  That would be very helpful (and there are plenty of existing RDP clients in most Linux distro's repos already, so it should be pretty easy to add this capability).  

  • Will RemoteFX work in RemoteApp where there isn't a real desktop delivery?

    Currently, Aero support is not possbiel trough RemoteApp

  • I'd like to build RemoteFX client into our RISC platform. How can I do it? We have both CE and Linux thin client.