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The usability of the /console and /admin switches for Remote Desktop sessions has been removed after Windows XP/2003. Microsoft claims that the functionality of connecting to a local session in newer versions of Windows should be enabled by restricting users to a single session.

Because the physical console session is never session 0, you can always reconnect to your existing session on the physical console. The Restrict Terminal Services users to a single remote session Group Policy setting determines whether you can connect to your existing physical console session. This setting is available in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Connections node of the Local Group Policy Editor. You can also configure this setting in Terminal Services Configuration. The Restrict each user to a single session setting appears in Edit settings in the General section. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947723

Is there any way - for those who don't want to generally impose this restriction, or in organizations with existing GPOs that just don't - to work around this?

I'd like to be able to connect to a specific session that is already open (i.e.: a local session left open at the physical console) on a system that does not restrict users to single sessions.

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Are you asking if you can RDP in, and get connected to a session started on the console? –  Zoredache Jan 25 '11 at 18:00
    
What do you want to achieve here? To force the user to always reconnect to there open session (if possible) rather than create a new one? –  Sam Jan 25 '11 at 18:00
    
Work around what? I don't understand what you're asking. Do you mean allow the same user to have multiple RDP sessions? If so, then yes you can "disable" this restriction by disabling the setting. –  joeqwerty Jan 25 '11 at 18:01
    
For a server in remote administration mode, do you really want a single person to have more then one open session, when the maximum you can have is two total? –  Zoredache Jan 25 '11 at 18:04
    
Edited question for clarity. This is for use on a "workstation server" where I do not have control over the Group Policy. I'm not looking so much to force the user to always reconnect to an existing session, as I am wanting to just give the user (me, really) the option to do so. –  Iszi Jan 25 '11 at 18:21

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

RDP in, open Task Manager, find the session you want and connect to it.

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A bit more involved than I was hoping for, but that would work. Would be really nice if there was some automated client-side method to do this. –  Iszi Jan 25 '11 at 19:40

This can be automated. Try the following script:

SETLOCAL
SET SESSIONNUMBER=-1
FOR /F "skip=1 tokens=3" %%i in ('query session %username% ^| find /v ">"') DO SET SESSIONNUMBER=%%i
IF {%SESSIONNUMBER%}=={-1} GOTO :EOF
tscon.exe %SESSIONNUMBER%
ENDLOCAL
logoff.exe
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Interesting-looking script. What shell is this for? Also, could you comment it to explain the steps for those unfamiliar with this particular syntax? –  Iszi Jan 26 '11 at 13:35
    
This is a native CMD shell script. This could be saved as a CMD file and run as a typical logon script. This should be run first before any other scripts, as the rationale for this is to reconnect to another session if it exists. –  Greg Askew Jan 26 '11 at 18:34

I also don't understand the entire question, but according to Microsoft, you can no longer RDP into the "console" in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, because the "console" is no longer session 0, as session 0 is a noninteractive session that is reserved for services.

Also, even if you were to log into the console, there is only one console, so you can't have multiple connections to it. Perhaps you are looking at something like VNC instead to control the server's console?

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Edited title for clarity. I'm not looking to connect to "session 0". I'm looking to connect to a specific session, such as one I might leave open at the local terminal. –  Iszi Jan 25 '11 at 18:26

I'm confused here. Sounds like you wanted the functionality of the deprecated functionality of the /console switch in RDP 5.x. You can try /admin, but I am not sure of the result when done locally. You seem to be under the impression both are deprecated. I think only one, the /console switch, was put to rest. See below, ripped from here:

Changes to remote administration in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 In Windows Server 2003, you can start the RDC client (Mstsc.exe) by using the /console switch to remotely connect to the physical console session on the server (also known as session 0). In Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, the /console switch has been deprecated. For more information, see the “Why the /console switch is no longer needed” section. In Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, session 0 is a noninteractive session that is reserved for services.

You can use the new /admin switch to remotely connect to a Windows Server 2008-based server for administrative purposes. The /admin switch is introduced in RDC 6.1. RDC 6.1 is included in the following operating systems:

* Windows Server 2008
* Windows Server 2008 R2
* Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1)
* Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3)
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Good point about console vs. admin, but I'm pretty sure the latter still does not provide the functionality I'm looking for. –  Iszi Jan 25 '11 at 19:00
    
@lszi OK. I am honestly not sure, but I just wanted to let you know. I am famous for skimming docs, only to find I did not read carefully enough. –  ajstein Jan 25 '11 at 20:12

source: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/278845

How to Connect to the Console Session When you connect to the console session of a Windows Server 2003-based server, no other user has to be already logged on to the console session. Even if no one is logged on to the console, you are logged on just as if you were sitting at the physical console.

To connect from the remote Windows Server 2003-based computer, open a command prompt, and then type the following command: mstsc -v:servername /F -console where mstsc is the Remote Desktop connection executable file, -v indicates a server to connect to, /F indicates full screen mode, and -console is the instruction to connect to the console session.

When you use this command, you open the Remote Desktop session, and when the logon is authenticated, you are connected to the console session that is running on the Windows Server 2003-based server. If a user is currently working on the console session at the computer, you receive the following error message: The user domain\username is logged locally on to this computer. The user has been idled for number minutes. The desktop is unlocked. If you continue, this user's session will end and any unsaved data will be lost. Do you want to continue? The user of the current console session is then logged off, and you receive a message that states that the computer is currently locked and only an administrator can unlock it.

Note: If the console session user and the Terminal Services session user are the same, you can connect without any problems.

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2  
The tags show that the OP is looking for a way to do connect to the console session from Windows 2008 Server, where the -console switch from the KB article you refer is no longer available in Server 2008. –  Dmitri Chubarov Jun 3 '12 at 10:50

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