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Apologies if this is a dumb/obvious question, but I've been surprised at how complicated what I'd hoped was a simple transition is turning out to be. Disclaimer: I'm a Mac/Linux guy so am not familiar with the Windows Server world (though I grew up a Windows user, so am literate in that sense.)

What we have currently in our small office: 3 users from our Accounting department use RDC to connect to a Windows 7 machine sitting in the back room. They each run an instance of QuickBooks Enterprise from within that RDC window and everything works smoothly.

The problem: This is an extremely brittle setup. I don't trust that (now-ageing) piece of hardware, there's no reliable backup system other than Dropbox, which is flakey on a shared box like that, and when out of the office, it's very difficult to administer. Yes, it works, but I'm trying to think ahead.

What I'd hoped would be simple to do: Simply move that machine to a virtual server and replicate the setup, but with nightly snapshots and simplicity in adding block storage, etc. I picked Windows Azure since, I presumed, MS would provide the best "virtual Windows" experience.

What I've discovered: For some reason, Microsoft has made it OBSCENELY complicated to do this. They point me to FAQs littered with acronyms about service-provider licensing, how they do and don't support what I want, about buying client licenses, etc. etc. etc. And when I tried to set this up using Windows Server 2012, I've found 100-step tutorials on setting up Windows RDC gateways, etc. etc. I'm now a week into this project and I feel like I've fallen into a rathole and am now going about this the wrong way.

My question: What's the most straightforward way (or is there one??) to setup a simple virtual Windows host, allow 2 - 3 users to login simultaneously via RDC, and run the app they need to run on that central (virtualized) machine? I don't need each user to have a full virtual environment or have crazy permissions or such. I just want everyone to login to the same box and run the same program (QuickBooks Enterprise) and be able to do that simultaneously.

Many thanks in advance!

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possible duplicate of Can you help me with my software licensing issue? – Jacob Mar 17 '14 at 17:24
I'm so sorry that you have to deal with the garbage that is Quickbooks I do as well and I know the pain. Unfortunately the way your question is written right now it sounds like a licensing issue, and those are off topic here. – Jacob Mar 17 '14 at 17:26
Thanks to both. We are properly licensed for QuickBooks Enterprise. I guess the bigger questions isn't necessarily about licensing itself ("what do I have to do to be licensed"), but is rather: "Do I have to deal with this mess at all?" If the answer is "there's no simple solution.", then fine. But if the answer is: "All you really need to handle this is..." then I'd love to hear it. Appreciate if this can be left open -- thanks! – nlh Mar 17 '14 at 18:30

Ultimately you might be a little bit screwed here - you have to deal with Microsoft licensing to do what you want legally (you can stick your head in the sand and ignore the licensing considerations too -- many companies do that - but to keep it kosher you need to get the client licenses).
The licensing issues are between you and Microsoft (we don't do that here).

From a technical standpoint what you're proposing seems sound, though I would also suggest you consider this configuration:

  • Install QuickBooks on some server you can reliably back up; Store the QuickBooks DB there.
    (I'm not a fan of Azure/Snapshots for backups by the by - you want real, reliable backups that you have control over in case Azure goes away and you need to recover to a physical box in your office...)

  • Install QuickBooks client software on the users' workstations.
    This avoids the remote desktop licensing, but it means you need to keep all the workstations up to date.

Another option to consider to avoid the server issues entirely is QuickBooks Enterprise Hosting Solutions - basically this is "QuickBooks Online for the Enterprise customer" & equivalent to what joeqwerty suggested but I believe you get all the Enterprise features/functionality (you'd have to check that with your Intuit rep though).

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Great answer - thank you. I'll investigate QB Enterprise Solutions. – nlh Mar 18 '14 at 21:53
@nlh I haven't investigated QB Enterprise Solutions much myself except enough to know it exists, but it sounds like a good fit for the scenario you're describing (if it lives up to its description). I would inquire as to the ability to export/back up your data to some media under your control though - a little paranoia never hurts :) – voretaq7 Mar 18 '14 at 21:58

There are probably too many possible solutions to list here but I'll list one. Since you've looked at Azure it sounds like you're OK with putting your QB "in the cloud":

Migrate to QuickBooks Online and alleviate the burden completely.

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Great suggestion, and something we're looking at. I would loooooove to be able to do that simply, but alas QB Online isn't the same as QB Desktop, and there'd be a switching cost in terms of time and re-training. Without question the long-term answer is either QB Online or one of the newer offerings (i.e., but for right now, I need to keep the same software in a familiar enviornment (i.e. Windows). – nlh Mar 18 '14 at 0:23
The QB Online versions don't offer Enterprise functionality. It's quite a big difference... – Chris S Mar 18 '14 at 17:14

Currently Azure doesn't allow RDP hosts. This is purely a licensing issue. You can actually set one up, and it will work, they just don't allow it (again, at this time... there's been talk of this changing, but they've been talking since Azure was in beta).

There is a QB Enterprise Hosted solution available, through Right Networks. It's exactly what you're doing now, they send you a RDP connection file and your accountants login to a RDP session. It is a bit pricey, currently $55/mo - you can get the first year cheaper when Intuit runs sales. If you're interested I highly recommend contacting a local QB ProAdvisor. Make sure they're certified in Enterprise (preferably the version you use, though it changes little from year to year).

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