It seems Terminal Server is being renamed to Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2. (See this http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd560658(WS.10).aspx )

I am concerned, and I was wondering if anyone with me is as well, that Microsoft is more headed to the a remote app type of setup instead of full virtualization of desktop on the server. I have marked this community wiki because there is no real answer, just looking for more of an opinion on how it is changing. I personally like Terminal Services and having the entire desktop be virtual, but I wonder how long it will be this way.

Also if you like the remote app model more, tell me why it works for you because possibly I just need to change my prospective on things.


I wouldn't worry. The ability to publish applications rather than full desktop is an alternative more than a "move towards", in my opinion. Citrix stuff has always been trickling down to Microsoft native functionality a few years later, so in that respect published apps was way overdue.

From what I can see, terminal servers are more and more used as an alternative to desktop-installed apps, either for giving users access to apps when out of the office, or to host "trouble-apps" that need some form for back-end access that would be troublesome on a PC.

Anyways, i like the choice. Users like the seamless app approach, as they don't get confused b the "double start menu" and all that. For Win2008 R2, especially with imrovements around published apps for named windows groups, I'm all for it. And I couldn't care less what MS calls it :-)

  • I did not know that Citrix already had this feature, although I was aware that Microsoft bought SoftGrid which ties in with remote-app nicely. So that makes it seem more of a feature checklist instead of a move which would be good. – Matt Jul 8 '09 at 16:21
  • Microsoft has been bringing in features that were "Citrix only" for years. I don't know if it's being done as part of a formal license agreement between the parties or not, but with the addition of RemoteApp and "farm" functionality in W2K8, my need for Citrix Presentation Server products has basically reached zero. – Evan Anderson Jul 8 '09 at 16:34

The RemoteApp model works very nicely for delivering some applications to users in an environment that otherwise uses traditional "thick-clients". Particuarly nice deployment scenarios have been for applications that would perform poorly in a "thick-client" scenario because they are either resource hogs, bandwidth hogs, or written with shoddy database connectivity (think "shared-file database"... DBF, MDB, etc files) that work poorly across wires (especially low bandwidth wires).

I don't see Microsoft getting away from hosted desktops. They really get it "for free" in the operating system (or, depending on how you feel about it, the other way around) since it's the basis for "fast user switching" on the client / desktop builds of the NT operating system.

As an aside: I have a hard time calling the use of terminal services "virtualization" since there's nothing really "virtualized" about it. The term "thin-client" still seems to make sense. I think that it's getting called "desktop virtualization" more and more frequently today because little marketroids and sales gerbils want to cash in on the term "virtualization". The term "virtualization" refers to a particular concept in computer science, and terminal services isn't "virtualization".

  • Good point on virtualization, it really isn't virtualized. It is more "run somewhere else" which is like virtualization, but honestly very different. – Matt Jul 8 '09 at 16:22
  • It's a silly little peeve, and the term is probably totally ruined now anyway. Kind of like how "broadband" has come to mean "fast Internet access" instead of being the opposite of "baseband" like it used to mean. >sigh< – Evan Anderson Jul 8 '09 at 16:35

I wouldn't say Microsoft is moving away from full virtualization of the desktop on the server.

(Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, but have no connection with the Virtualization/Remote Desktop teams, this is my own random speculation)

I think they are trying to offer solutions in all the virtualization areas:

Desktop Virtualization:

Application Virtualization:

  • App-V
  • Terminal Services Remote App

Server Virtualization:

They are just adding additional options that may work better for some customers in some environments... nothing is going away that I am aware of.


I would love to be using the Remote App scenario for some developers (including myself). Those development tools (and environments) are absolute killers of desktop PCs. For someone who isn't developing full time, but needs a full development environment, I would not mind offloading that to the server (especially since intial setup of a development machine can take forever, with all of the apps that need to be installed/configured!), and having a nice, clean desktop. At the same time, development apps are really unpleasant to use via Term. Services, since it takes you out of "home". I personally really like the idea of Remote App, even though I haven't used it yet.


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