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When deploying RDS on Server 2012, there are two options: either installing it the 'normal' way by using the option 'Role-based or feature-based installation' or the 'special' way by using 'Remote Desktop Services installation'? When testing, I chose the session-based desktop deployment.

What's the difference exactly? I've tried both on two different servers and can't find any significant differences.

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The difference is how the options for installing RDS is presented to you and how they are actually going to be installed.

  • Role-based or feature-based installation: this is the advanced option for installing RDS, it allows you to manually select the roles that you would like to install and manually configure those roles, for example if you only need to install the "Remote Desktop Session Host" service to support using RDS in a Workgroup machine, or to allow more than 2 concurrent sessions, you may use the Role-based or feature-based installation process to only install that service.
  • Remote Desktop Service installation: this is the new way of deploying RDS in Windows. Depending on the scenario that you choose, this way will select, install and configure all the needed components for you to help save time and effort. it usually installs the three basic roles that are 1) RD Connection Broker 2) RD Web Access and 3) RD Session Host, those roles can all be installed and configured remotely using a single wizard, which helps save time and effort in the deployment.
  • So once deployed, there are no significant differences? – William Edwards Sep 14 '15 at 10:20
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    Yes, no significant difference, choose what works best for you and go for it. – Noor Khaldi Sep 14 '15 at 11:46

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