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With Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services, Microsoft made some significant strides towards a solid remote desktop environment thatwould be scalable and flexible without the need for third-party software, and the software giant is looking to improve it even more with Server 2008.Citrix is working hard to offer more then just remote desktop and application management, but most environments I've dealt with use it specifically for that. Is Microsoft going to eat Citrix's lunch, or will it play along nicely like it did with Diskeeper? HangZhou Night Net

One ofnew Microsoft features is the ability to put the server into "Drain Mode" where users will be able to reconnect to existing sessions, but no new sessions can be created. This is a great way to push users to other servers in a load-balanced configuration over the course of a few days so you can pull one machine out of production for maintenance. Of course, if your users are anything like mine, they leave their sessions open for a week at a time, but by then it's likely they will only have a few important documents open and unsaved on their desktop.

Currently you can set it so users cannot log into a Terminal Server, but this prevents folks from reconnecting to existing sessions as well as establishing new ones. Although Windows Server 2003 is much better about not dropping Remote Desktop Protocol connections than previous versions, it still happens. It would be terribly frustrating to users to disconnect from a load-balanced cluster only to reconnect to another node, losing whatever work was in progress.

Windows Server 2008 has a slew of additional improvements, such as the highly touted Terminal Services (TS) RemoteApp, whereapplications are presented to users in a mannersimilar to Citrix's published applications. A user connecting to one of these gets just the application, not the entire Windows desktop. Another improvement isTS Easy Print, the feature which lets people print directly to printers attached to the host system, not from the Terminal Server itself.

I am glad to see Terminal Services improving to the point where manysmall to medium-sized shops can get a fully functional environment without having to purchase some of the additional tools they've had to have in the past, but hopefully this won't be so successful that it cuts down on the pressure to keep improving the product. Terminal Services has come a long way since the NT days and I'd like to see it continue to gain features and reliability.

 

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