We Fixed Remote Desktop Shadowing (And Some Other Stuff)

Let’s Face It, Remote Desktop Shadowing Hasn’t Been a Great Experience For… Well, …Forever!

Greetings friends!

One of the continuous laments that we’ve heard from our customer base, for years now, is about user session shadowing in Remote Desktop Services.  This is a shame, because the internal architecture for shadowing from Windows Server 2012 R2 onwards is pretty amazing!  Using MSTSC to shadow however, has been less than smooth.  The litany of complaints includes problems like:

  • lack of proper shadowing support (zoom out) for multiple monitor sessions
  • dreaded permissions errors
  • the unfortunate requirement for help desk users to be administrators on the terminal servers they want to shadow
  • the inability for Windows 7 systems to initiate shadowing on Server 2012/2016/2019 systems and Windows 8 and 10 workstations.

There was also the small issue that there were no tools for shadowing/remote assistance inside Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure…until now!

As a result, admins and IT staff have been paying an arm and a leg for remote assistance tools to bridge this gap – tools that require heavy install footprints, hundreds or even thousands of dollars per technician per year, and tedious invitation URLs, etc are required to start helping users.

Which Reminds Us: Delegation of Administration Options for Remote Desktop Services Have Been Nonexistent For W a y  T o o  L o n g

The other need that we hear frequently from our customers, is to have the ability to precisely delegate Remote Desktop Services management permissions to their help desk and front line support staff.  To date, the only real option has been to give help desk staff admin rights on session hosts and connection brokers.  Not an ideal situation from a security, or a “whoops I just rebooted a terminal server with 30 user sessions running line of business apps” perspective.

We tried to resolve some of these issues with our RDSConfig utility, that allowed permissions reassignment for users and groups on session hosts.  However, in larger RDS collections, you need a way to apply those permissions to a huge swath of session hosts all at once – especially as new session hosts are brought online.  Also, to do their jobs, help desk staff need rights to query the Connection Broker to dynamically list RDS collections and the servers that are members of each, plus they should have the ability to read RDS-related performance counters on those session hosts, so they can troubleshoot things like network latency from the client to the server.

So, We Figured Out How To Make Shadowing Much Better AND Created a Wizard To Let You Delegate RDS Management Tasks To Your Help Desk Staff

We’re calling these new tools in the Remote Desktop Commander Client Premium Management Features.  For $99.99 per admin or help desk user per year, all of the aforementioned problems go away.  Want to shadow Server 2012+ systems from Windows 7?  No problem.  Want to monitor multiple user sessions at once in live view in one window?  We do that.  Do you have RDS users with multiple monitors that you haven’t been able to shadow before? Again, we’ve got you covered.

Watch this quick video on YouTube to see these new features in action.

Next, download the latest copy of the Remote Desktop Commander Lite client.  Once you install it, you’ll be able to preview the SuperShadow features for 15 days.  The RDS Management Delegation Wizard becomes available after you purchase a subscription from us.  And once you start your subscription, you’ll immediately be emailed a license file that will unlock all of those features.

SuperShadow

We value your feedback, and want to continue to enhance the remote assistance capabilities of our solutions, so please send us your thoughts and feature requests regarding this new offering.

**Note 1: With the release of Premium Management Features in Remote Desktop Commander Lite v4.7, legacy shadowing support for Windows Server 2008, and legacy shadowing through the MSTSC client have been retired. These features remain available in our Remote Desktop Commander Suite solution, however.

**Note 2: If you are an existing Remote Desktop Commander Suite customer who would like to test these new Premium Management Features, please install the new 4.7 client on a VM or system OTHER than the system running the core Remote Desktop Commander Suite components. We will be releasing an update to the entire Suite shortly that has this new client included.

Announcing Support For Windows Server 2019 and Windows Virtual Desktop

Friends,

We’re excited to announce that Remote Desktop Commander Version 4.5 has now been tested on and supports managing Server 2019 Remote Desktop Services deployments.

We’re also pleased to announce that based on preliminary testing in the Windows Virtual Desktop private preview, we are “Windows Virtual Desktop ready.” As WVD transitions into its public preview soon, we will continue to test against WVD and start adding WVD specific features, which will be announced at a later date. As part of our support for WVD, we will soon be releasing a new specialized installer of the Remote Desktop Commander Suite called the Remote Desktop Commander Core Install, which provides for completely scriptable, headless deployments of our software into WVD and other MSP / multitenant environments.

Need to monitor Windows Virtual Desktop in a planned roll out later this year? We’ll be ready to help!

Windows Virtual Desktop Officially Announced – My Take

This week at Ignite, Microsoft is announcing the introduction of Windows Virtual Desktop, a multi-user version of Windows 10 Enterprise that is deployable in Azure. Please see their blog post here about it.

I will have much more to say about this in future blog posts, but coupled with their heavy investments in “Remote Desktop Modern Infrastructure” (a.k.a RDmi for short) where RDS roles like the Connection Broker, Web Access, and Gateway are now simply PaaS components in Azure, this is going to upend the EUC/virtualization industry in an extreme way. The downward cost pressure Microsoft will place on user desktop and app hosting with this play will be tremendous. In the future at this blog and in webinars we host, we will analyze Windows Virtual Desktop licensing (with RDmi and compute costs factored in) versus traditional on-premise or datacenter-based Remote Desktop Services hosting on Server 2016/2019.

At first glance, I don’t think Windows Virtual Desktop will be good for Citrix, and I certainly think it will threaten Amazon’s DaaS offering. It’s also probably going to put a good swath of non-Azure based MSPs and CSPs out of business. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my read on it right now.

Fortunately for our customers, we will be Windows Virtual Desktop ready in Q1 2019, and will be able to monitor multi-user Windows 10 instances just like Windows Server RDS session hosts. We look forward to continue to serving the Remote Desktop Services management and monitoring needs of all organizations, whether they run Windows Server or Windows 10 on premise, in the datacenter, or in Azure.