Are Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services Good Enough For Me - Part 2
Update: Ericom has released PowerTerm WebConnect for Windows Server 2008. This is a free package that enhances the capabilities of Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services, adding several significant capabilities to that platform. If you are considering Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services for your Server Based Computing needs, I highly recommend that you give PowerTerm WebConnect for Windows Server 2008 a try.
Microsoft TechNet recently ran a two-part interview with Tad Brockway, group program manager for the Terminal Server product development team (via DABCC.com),. In this interview Tad conducts a quick demo of Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services and also draws a high-level diagram of its architecture on the whiteboard. While this interview does not contain any surprises or features that we have not seen before, it does provide a nice, short overview of what's in Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services, and also indicates what has been left out. This information can help you determine if it's worthwhile to investigate Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services as a complete solution for your Server Based Computing needs or if you still require an add-on solution such as Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect or Citrix. Please note that you may need Microsoft Silverlight to view the interview recording.
So what can we learn from this presentation? Tad shows us that:
- Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services are quick and easy to install and configure
- Published applications and desktops can be accessed using a built-in web interface (TS Web Access),
- Published applications and desktops can be accessed securely from outside the firewall without an SSL VPN or modifying firewall configurations, using HTTPS tunneling (TS Gateway),
- Published applications are seamlessly integrated into the local desktop (TS RemoteApp
- Published applications share sessions
- Multi-monitor support – while Tad doesn't talk about it, his Vista client is configured with two monitors
There are also several new Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services features that Tad doesn't show:
- Session based load balancing (TS Session Broker), – Tad mentions this feature but doesn't demo it
- Universal printing (TS Easy Print),
- Plug-and-Play device redirection
- 32bit color, improved RDP performance and more
Thanks to all these new features and capabilities Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services can provide a sufficient Server Based Computing solution in scenarios that previously required add-on products such as Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect or Citrix.
This presentation also highlights some of the limitations of Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services:
- Applications are published to all users, not to particular groups of users. In other words, when using the web interface all users will always see the same applications icons
- No Single Sign On from the web interface to the published applications. Single Sign On can only be accomplished by saving credentials in the local Credential Store
- TS Session Broker is very limited and is intended for use with no more than five Terminal Servers
There are also some limitations this presentation doesn’t touch on:
- No centralized management – when using multiple Terminal Servers, applications must be published on each and every server independently
- Limited application publishing – application shortcuts can be published to desktops but only using MSIs. This is a somewhat clunky mechanism and does not support clients that are outside the domain
- As I explained in my previous post, most new features require Windows Vista SP1, or at least XP SP3
- No application load balancing, which means all the application must be installed on each of the Terminal Servers
- No logging or auditing
- No end-point monitoring or root-cause analysis
If you require any of these features and capabilities than you still need an add-on to Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services. At this time, Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect is the only such product that is compatible with Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services. Moreover, PowerTerm WebConnect is the first and only Terminal Services product certified by Microsoft for Windows Server 2008.