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I'm looking to implement a thin-client / TS (or RDS) solution in our main office and was wondering if anyone could comment on using Windows Server 2008 R2 RDS or Server 2003's TS's? Are there pros/cons for/against either? Stability, security, cost, management tools, etc. We currently have 2003 licenses but if there is an advantage with RDS then perhaps I should implement my solution using Server 2008 R2.

Thanks to all in advance!

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

In Windows Server 2008, you can deploy just the apps via web-access feature, and that way the load on the server is much lighter versus deploying the whole desktop with apps. You can also deploy apps as remote programs to your users local desktops.

Included in Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services, but not in Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services:

  • TS Remote App
  • TS Gateway
  • TS Web Access
  • TS Easy Print
  • Unified TS and Web Client
  • 32-bit color
  • Font Smoothing
  • Display Data Prioritization
  • Large Resolution Support
  • Monitor Spanning
  • Advanced Compression
  • PnP Device Redirection Framework Support
  • Advanced Clipboard Rediction
  • Network Level Authentication
  • CredSSP Single Sign On
  • Network Access Protection Integration
  • RDP Signing
  • Wildcard SSL-certificate support
  • Per-User License Tracking
  • License Diagnosis and Support Tools
  • Session Broker (session based load balancing)
  • Windows System Resource Management Support
  • Full IPv6 Support
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I've just found this Microsoft Press eBook which discusses Windows Server 2008 R2 (and the Remote Desktop Client) in some more detail.

http://blogs.msdn.com/microsoft%5Fpress/archive/2009/10/20/free-e-book-introducing-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx

From our own point of view we're not really (currently at least) using any additional functionality, but this does go into some more detail on all of the key R2 features.

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Server 2008 R2 RDS looks very cool, once you've enabled the "Desktop Experience" and enabled themes. This could be overkill for a thin-client scenario, but if you want to make it more friendly, it's quite good.

Stability: I guess only time will tell. 2003 is certainly more more tested solution, but 2008 isn't exactly fresh any more

Security: Out Of Box security is probably fairly good, but this also depends on your thin client, and whether or not it supports all of the latest protocols. Restricting to NLA sessions is a good idea, but only if your clients support it.

Cost: The biggest cost is going to be supporting it. The time taken by you/your team/technical support. This is only something you can really answer yourself. If you're going to have to fork out for 2008 training when you have 2003 support up to scratch, go with 2003 as it will be cheaper in the short run. But if you have to fork out for training anyway, makes sense to go with the much newer solution.

You mention you already have 2003 licenses, and depending on how many you have, this could save quite a few dollars. If you're a Non Profit and you're paying a grand total of $25/user, then things could be different.

Management Tools: IIRC, they're both pretty much the same. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So, advantages of RDS? Themes for one. Support for bi-directional audio means that you can connect your line-in devices to the TS as well. If you're running Thin Client, things like Web Access and Media Centre redirection won't matter very much. But apart from that, RDS is a lot the same as TS, and TS was pretty similar between 2008 and 2003.

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This might help a little:

http://blogs.msdn.com/rds/archive/2009/09/04/what-s-the-difference-between-a-rds-cal-and-a-ts-cal.aspx

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That's a little helpful in terms of licensing.. but it doesn't say a lot about features, stability, security, etc. –  JohnyD Oct 15 '09 at 12:25
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