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Windows Server 8–Remote Desktop and VDI enhancements
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VDI and RDS have been something I’ve been writing about, so I wanted to share the documents I’ve discovered from Microsoft that discuss the new features for VDI and RDS.

The 3 documents are:

Understand and Troubleshoot Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server "8" Beta

This Understand and Troubleshoot Guide (UTG) enables you to learn technical concepts, functionality, and troubleshooting methods for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server “8” Beta.

Date Published: 2/29/2012          Download

This Understand and Troubleshoot Guide (UTG) enables you to learn technical concepts, functionality, and troubleshooting methods for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server “8” Beta. This UTG provides you with: • A technical overview and functional description of this feature. • Technical concepts to help you successfully install, configure, and manage this feature. • User Interface options and settings for configuration and management. • Relevant architecture of this feature, with dependencies, and technical implementation. • Primary troubleshooting tools and methods for this feature.

 

Understand and Troubleshoot Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization in Windows Server "8" Beta

This Understand and Troubleshoot Guide (UTG) enables you to learn technical concepts, functionality, and troubleshooting methods for Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization in Windows Server “8” Beta.

Date Published:2/29/2012          Download

This Understand and Troubleshoot Guide (UTG) enables you to learn technical concepts, functionality, and troubleshooting methods for Desktop Virtualization in Windows Server “8” Beta. This UTG provides you with: • A technical overview and functional description of this feature. • Technical concepts to help you successfully install, configure, and manage this feature. • User Interface options and settings for configuration and management. • Relevant architecture of this feature, with dependencies, and technical implementation. • Primary troubleshooting tools and methods for this feature.

 

Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server "8" Beta

This paper contains an introduction to Windows Server "8" Beta Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization and step-by-step instructions for extending the Windows Server "8" Beta Test Lab Guide Base Configuration to demonstrate Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization.

Date Published:2/29/2012          Download

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows Server "8" Beta provides the ideal platform for companies to implement a centralized desktop strategy, helping organizations improve flexibility and compliance while improving data security and IT’s ability to manage desktops and applications. RDS is a centralized desktop and application platform solution that uses Desktop Virtualization and VDI technologies, offering powerful opportunities for IT to deliver and manage corporate desktops and to respond to users’ needs in a flexible way. Remote Desktop Services is the new name for Terminal Services, and reflects the expanded role in Windows Server "8" Beta so that you can run the desktop or applications in the datacenter while your users can be anywhere. This paper contains instructions for setting up a test lab based on the Test Lab Guide Base Configuration and deploying Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization using four server computers and one client computer. The resulting Remote Desktop Services Desktop Virtualization test lab demonstrates Desktop Virtualization functionality.

 

So what is new?

Some of the items highlighted in the documents are extracted below, although there is much more in the documents.  The improvements in reliability, RemoteFX and management are great.

Automatic Creation of Pooled VMs

Using the new Remote Desktop Management Service and user interface in Windows Server "8" Beta, virtual machines can now be easily deployed to hundreds of users at a time by duplicating a single, master virtual machine image. An administrator no longer needs to manually duplicate and create virtual machines to be part of a VDI deployment or use other more complex software to manage the automatic creation of virtual machines. In conjunction with the VM Streaming feature below, virtual machines can also be deployed on lower cost SMB shares, further reducing the cost and complexity of creating and managing a VDI deployment.

VM Streaming

Many customers are deploying VDI to reduce the total cost of ownership of desktop deployments. Industry solutions such as Citrix and VMWare provide solutions that allow significant storage savings through various streaming and thin provisioning solutions, allowing customers to use cheaper central storage alternatives to SAN.

Centralized storage offers many benefits in both Pooled and Personal VDI scenarios such as the ability to quickly rollout VMs and then dynamically add and remove Hyper-V hosts for maintenance when needed without having to worry about migrating any VM state from them. Additional benefits for Personal VM scenarios with central storage include easier management, backup and live migration.

In Microsoft’s VDI solution on Windows Server 2008 R2, central storage is possible only in complex and expensive deployments that utilize Storage Area Network (SAN) disks. Using local storage on the Hyper-V server costs significantly less and is far less complex, however this limits the flexibility of the deployment and may not be acceptable in many pooled and personal VM deployments.

Smaller organizations want a cost effective and low complexity VDI deployment that enables them to meet the desktop computing needs of their users and organization. Enterprise customers also need a cheaper central storage alternative to SAN that is easy to deploy and does not require complex networking and file server configurations.

With Windows Server "8" Beta, the Microsoft VDI VM Streaming feature will allow even an IT generalist to easily deploy VDI images without having to pay high storage costs for expensive SANs and instead storing them on low cost SMB shares.

Pooled VM Patching

Keeping virtual machines in a VDI deployment up to date with the latest features and updates can be as challenging as maintaining the physical machines that virtual desktops are intended to replace. Users typically do not like to have their workday interrupted, and they also expect reliability and accessibility making downtime needed to patch and update a virtual machine unacceptable.

Windows Server "8" Beta VDI will allow an administrator to patch and update unused virtual machines in a pool by patching the reference virtual machine and using the VM Streaming feature to rapidly provision the updated VM when a user connects and requests a virtual machine from the pool. A user that is currently using a virtual machine from the pool will not be affected by this process and once that user logs off their unpatched VM it is updated and added back to the available machines in the pool. The administrator can also configure a deadline for when all machines in the pool must be patched, and if the user exceeds this deadline they will be notified that they need to save their work and logoff of the virtual machine so that it can be patched.

Personal Desktop Patching

In contrast to pooled virtual machines, personal desktops in Windows Server "8" Beta Desktop Virtualization deployments are patched based on their configuration on the host and if they are in use at the time Windows Update is configured to patch the VM. Most personal desktop deployments are unmanaged and the user may also be an administrator. There are two main scenarios for personal desktop patching:

1. Virtual Machines are always running and updates are delivered via Windows Update on a periodic basis, much like a user that has an assigned physical machine.

2. Virtual Machines are allowed to sleep or otherwise are not being used for a period of time, and updates are delivered via Windows Update on a periodic basis, much like a user that has an assigned physical machine.

In the first scenario, updates are delivered much the same as they would be on a physical desktop, and patches are installed based on the group policy settings configured. If the virtual machine was powered off or a patch was missed for some reason it will be delivered during the next Windows Update cycle.

In the second scenario, for virtual machines that are awake when Windows Update delivers the update, the patch is installed much the same way as it would be on a physical machine and according to the group policy settings that are configured. If the virtual machine is in a saved state or not running, it will be started by the host agent, patches will be installed, and a notification will be sent that the VM was patched. The patched VM is then returned to the same state it was in before patching began.

User Profile Disks

With previous versions of Windows, preserving the user state of either a Remote Desktop session or a virtual machine deployed via VDI was accomplished by using roaming profiles and folder redirection. Although this solution does preserve the user state, there are several disadvantages of using these technologies:

· Some applications write user data or application specific data to places outside of the user profile

· Roaming profiles and folder redirection, especially when used together, can be complex to configure and deploy

· Some users cannot use a pooled VM and must use a personal VM instead so they can use local profiles

· Logon times can be increased as profile is loaded over the network

· If the roaming profile is used outside of the RDS deployment (for example, a physical machine), data loss can occur if the profile is rendered unusable

Windows Server "8" Beta allows administrators to configure their virtual machine deployments to store user data and application data in a single vhd file that is stored on a network share. User Profile Disks reduce cost and complexity while also solving the problem of application data that is not written to the user profile. A solution that combines roaming profiles, folder redirection, and User Profile Disks can also be used, allowing for granular control of which applications store data in User Profile Disks and which applications will store data in the user profile or in a redirected folder.

RemoteFX

The following lists the new or improved features of RemoteFX in Windows Server "8" Beta. RemoteFX was first released as a feature with Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

RemoteFX Integration

Windows Server "8" Beta has integrated RemoteFX technology across the entire Remote Desktop feature set without the need to install a separate role service. The following provides an overview of these new features in Windows Server "8" Beta.

RemoteFX for WAN

The goal of the RemoteFX for WAN feature of Windows Server "8" Beta is to deliver a great user experience beyond the corporate network, whether the user is in a branch office, on a wireless device, or working from home over a WAN connection.

RemoteFX for WAN combines the RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics feature with new intelligent WAN aware transports. Both TCP and UDP protocols can now be used and will be chosen automatically, as well as automatic detection of network conditions to tune the encoding of content to the network.

RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics

RemoteFX in Windows Server "8" Beta dynamically adapts to changing network conditions and optimizes encoding based on the content being delivered. Windows Server "8" Beta RemoteFX adaptive graphics now uses multiple codecs that are optimized for the type of content being delivered. Using a typical web page as an example, the text, images, and video content are all encoded using codecs that are optimized for each type of content.

RemoteFX Media Remoting

Media consumption is becoming an integral part of the end user experience. Ranging from consuming Corporate training media content, lightweight content creation and authoring, to creating demos, and marketing materials. Media is also a part of online collaboration (Live meeting, conference calls etc) and recreational media consumption.

In Windows 7, efficient redirection of multimedia content was introduced. When a user attempts to play multimedia content through Windows Media Player in a remote session the content to be played back is intercepted. The intercepted content is then redirected to the client. The RDP client receives the compressed content, decodes the content and plays them back locally. This gives a very near to local experience to the end-user as the content is rendered on the client using client resources.

At the core of the RemoteFX Media Remoting feature is the integration of network detect, graphics profiles, and RemoteFX scenarios to enable a great media consumption experience over RDP. From an end user perspective there is no difference in experience between local playback and media playback over a remote session.

RemoteFX Multi Touch

Multi-touch integration is an extremely important user experience goal for Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Multi-touch integration enables a new way of interacting with the operating system and applications, and extends Windows to devices where multi-touch is the primary means of user interaction. In Windows 8 Consumer Preview, users expect to be able to interact with Remote Desktop sessions in the same manner as they interact with the local operating system, including:

· Support of multi-touch gestures and manipulations in the remote session

· The ability to navigate within and between the local and remote sessions using touch alone

· A fluid and responsive multi-touch experience in the remote session

With Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, support in RDP and the Remote Desktop Connection client for touch is limited to promoted mouse events captured at a slow fixed rate, providing a suboptimal touch experience. Windows Server "8" Beta provides native support in RDP for multi-touch interaction in the Remote Desktop session.

Hyper-V Integration

The following are new features that allow an administrator to better manage RemoteFX virtual machines and the number of monitors that can be used at specific resolutions.

GPU Management

Windows Server "8" Beta also now contains a GPU Management feature. Previously, administrators that had setup a RemoteFX deployment were not able to get information about how the GPUs installed in the server were being used, nor were they able to choose which GPUs would be used for RemoteFX. Administrators also did not have any indication of which GPUs were capable of being used for virtual machines in servers that have multiple GPUs.

The GPU management feature in Windows Server "8" Beta is a new user interface that has been added to the Hyper-V management console to help the admin get a better understanding of the GPUs installed in the server and which ones are good candidates for associating with virtual machines. This GPU management interface allows the admin to enumerate all the GPUs present on the server and view the capabilities of each, as well as allowing the admin to filter out GPUs that are used for server management only so that they are not used with RemoteFX. The GPU management interface also shows which virtual machines are associated with a particular GPU and how much of the GPU resources each virtual machines is consuming.

Multimonitor Support

In Windows Server R2 2008 SP1, multi-monitor support in RemoteFX required the use of fewer monitors as the resolution was increased. For example, RemoteFX could support a maximum of 4 monitors, but only for lower monitor resolutions. With Windows Server "8" Beta this limitation has been removed and a virtual machine can support the same number of monitors regardless of the resolution of the monitor.

RemoteFX Codec Improvements

For Windows Server "8" Beta, the RemoteFX Codec has an increased compression ratio of approximately two times that of what it was with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. This helps to further the reduce the bandwidth consumed when using RemoteFX.

 

ttfn

 

David


Posted Thu, Mar 1 2012 2:06 PM by David Overton

Comments

Stephen Harrison wrote re: Windows Server 8–Remote Desktop and VDI enhancements
on Wed, Apr 4 2012 2:49 PM

Hi, thanks for the information, Do you happen to know if a limitation still stands on the amount of VDI VM's can run on a single host with a GPU within the host for Remote FX. Previous Microsoft mentioned it was only tested to run 24 VM's (win7) within 1 host?

Many thanks,

Stephen

David Overton wrote re: Windows Server 8–Remote Desktop and VDI enhancements
on Tue, Jun 5 2012 10:27 AM

Stephen,

I do not know, but I will ask.  I will post if I get an answer.

Thanks

David

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