Remote Desktop Commander v4.7 Now Available

Greetings friends and current Remote Desktop Commander customers!  We’ve just released Version 4.7 of the Remote Desktop Commander Suite.  This new version offers:

  • a much improved shadowing and remote assistance experience;
  • a wizard for delegating RDS management tasks to your help desk staff;
  • numerous product optimizations;
  • and, the introduction of a special version designed for MSPs.

Also, this is the first version of our software that has been completely tested in Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop and is Microsoft WVD Ready!

In this RDPSoft E-Newsletter:

 

New Premium Management Features in the Version 4.7 Remote Desktop Commander Client – And a Special Offer

Other Improvements in Remote Desktop Commander Suite Version 4.7

Remote Desktop Commander Core Edition – a Special Version for Multi-tenant MSP Deployments of RDS and WVD

Remote Desktop Commander is Windows Virtual Desktop Ready!

Version 4.7 Upgrade, Purchase, and Demo Links

Premium Management Features Now Available in Version 4.7 –

Take Advantage Of This Special Offer To Add Them To Your Remote Desktop Commander Suite Deployment.

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 has however 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 Has 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.  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.

Take Advantage of this Special Offer to Add These Premium Management Features To Your Existing Remote Desktop Commander Suite Deployment

Normally, our Premium Management Features enhancement for the Remote Desktop Commander Client costs $99.99, per named admin or help desk user per year.  However, we are offering our existing Remote Desktop Commander Suite customers the ability to add this offering for only $69.99 per admin/help desk user, per year.  Simply fill out the form here and let us know that you’d like this special code.   Alternatively, if you’d like to start a monthly subscription of the Premium Management Features, you can do so here, at $9.99 per admin/help desk user per month.

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


Other Improvements in Remote Desktop Commander Suite Version 4.7

Remote Desktop Commander Is Now Time Zone Independent

In larger deployments, multiple RDS collections may exist across multiple time zones.  This is especially true in hosted or MSP deployments.  The latest version of Remote Desktop Commander normalizes dashboards to the time zone of the collector system that is sending data into a particular SQL database.  This allows our dashboards to work properly even in time zone heterogeneous environments.

New Table Index Optimizations Reduce Database Storage Consumption

In Version 4.7, we optimized indexes on database tables that store agent performance data, which typically are the largest tables in our database.  As a result, the total space consumed by these tables is now less – resulting in reduced storage requirements over time.

Lookup the Service Names Contained in Service Processes When Troubleshooting Performance

One of Remote Desktop Commander’s nicest features is the ability to zero in on a user session that impacted performance on a terminal server for a given period of time; to diagnose the root cause of a performance problem (e.g. which app running under what user was using the most CPU or memory.)  Often, the problem is caused by a poor behaving Windows service.  However, many Windows services are hosted in a common EXE host, SVCHOST.EXE, so it can be difficult to determine which individual service was causing the issue.  The latest version of Remote Desktop Commander resolves that, however, by providing a lookup feature in Powershell that translates the service names running in a specific executable process within the Services session.

Look Up Service Names By Executable Process
Select an Executable Name With High Resource Usage to Lookup The Service Running Inside It.

 

Service Names From Executable Process
A Powershell Script Looks Up the Services Running In a Specific Process So You Can Troubleshoot Performance Problems

Improvements In The IP Geolocation Dashboard Make It Load More Quickly.

In Version 4.7, we added optimizations to the IP Geolocation Dashboard, which result in faster load times, even in environments with lots of RDS login and login failure activity.

Geolocate RDP Logon Failures
Perform deep analysis of RDP logon failures and user logins using the User IP Geolocation Dashboard.

Support for Multiple Tenant Databases In Version 4.7 Of The Remote Desktop Commander Client

In larger deployments of our software, such as in MSP environments, there is often a need to review reports, dashboards, and analytics from multiple isolated tenants, customers, or logical groupings of servers that are housed in separate databases.  The latest version of our client makes it very easy to setup multiple connections to different tenant databases, and then switch between them as required.  In combination with our special Remote Desktop Commander Core product edition for MSPs mentioned below, it becomes much easier to quickly deploy and manage multiple independent Remote Desktop Commander installations, each storing its data in a separate SQL or Azure SQL database.

Select The Desired Tenant Database At Startup
Select the desired tenant database to review at client startup, or change the focus later to a different tenant database as required.

 

Build Links to Multiple Tenant Databases
Add, edit, clone, and delete links to tenant databases in Standard SQL or Azure SQL.

Are You An MSP? Use Our New Remote Desktop Commander Core Edition To Rapidly Roll Out Our Software In Multi-tenant Environments.

Starting With Version 4.7, we’re proud to announce a separate edition of the Remote Desktop Commander Suite called Remote Desktop Commander Core.  Remote Desktop Commander Core is a lightweight version of the Remote Desktop Commander Suite installer, bundled with special provisioning tools to make it easier to roll out our software to many different tenant environments, in a streamlined and replicable way.

Using Remote Desktop Commander Core, each tenant environment communicates with its own database located on a central SQL Server, or on an Azure SQL Database Server or Elastic Pool.  In this fashion, even data collected from isolated tenant environments can be stored in a central SQL Server for review in our Remote Desktop Commander Client.  And, as mentioned above, you can connect to any tenant database you wish, via a click of the mouse, with our new Remote Desktop Commander Client; in order to schedule reports, check performance dashboards, or run reports.  Finally, given this new architecture, it’s also extremely easy to deploy our solution in Microsoft’s new Windows Virtual Desktop environment, which is inherently a multi-tenant architecture.

If you are an MSP or hoster that needs to rapidly deploy our software into multiple isolated tenant domains running RDS or WVD, please contact our support department to obtain the Remote Desktop Commander Core installer and related documentation.

Remote Desktop Commander Core Architecture
Remote Desktop Commander Core Deployments Allow You To Centrally Monitor and Report On Multi-Tenant Environments (e.g. MSP Private Clouds and WVD in Azure)

Getting Ready To Migrate to Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop This Year? Version 4.7 of Remote Desktop Commander Is WVD Ready!

You may have seen some of the articles and videos Andy has done about Windows Virtual Desktop over at his Microsoft MVP resource site, http://www.purerds.org.  We’re proud to announce that Version 4.7 of the Remote Desktop Commander Suite and Remote Desktop Commander Core editions have been fully tested in the Windows Virtual Desktop Public Preview program and they work wonderfully!  We will be writing more about WVD deployment best practices soon, but Remote Desktop Commander fills a huge gap around management and monitoring for Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure.

Currently, management in WVD is limited to Powershell Scripts, and an extremely narrow web UI that does not give admins and help desk staff the ability to do things like terminate hung processes, shadow sessions, view detailed performance metrics about what’s going on in the environment, check connection quality, etc.  Similarly, there is no monitoring mechanism for WVD, other than subscribing to Azure Monitor and then attempting to figure out what performance counters to monitor- all of which gets very expensive on a per-VM and per counter basis.  Remote Desktop Commander, especially combined with Premium Management Features, provides a rich intra-tenant management and monitoring experience that is inexpensive to deploy and operate.

As WVD heads to general availability this year, we will continue adding more WVD specific features – such as consumption and reporting of special events from the WVD Diagnostics Service, and tighter integration with WVD Broker Service.

Remote Desktop Commander 4.7 Upgrade, Purchase, and Demo Links

If you are an existing Remote Desktop Commander SUITE subscription licensee and/or active maintenance agreement holder, click here to request upgrade instructions.

If you’d like to learn more about the Remote Desktop Commander Suite, including its feature set and how to start a subscription for only $9.99 per server per month, click here.

Click here to learn more about the new Premium Management Features extension for the Remote Desktop Commander Client, and click here for a feature comparison between the Premium Management Features extension and the full Remote Desktop Commander Suite.

Request a web demo with an RDPSoft solutions expert to see all our solution’s features in depth.

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.

Remote Desktop Commander v4 Now Available

Greetings friends and current Remote Desktop Commander customers! We’ve just released Version 4.0 of Remote Desktop Commander, both the Lite and Suite editions, so we want to tell you what’s new under the hood in terms of features.

In this RDPSoft E-Newsletter:

 

New Remote Desktop Commander 4.0 Features

Introducing RDS Performance Audits, Custom Report Design Work, and White Glove Installation

Our Technology Alliance Partner, FSLogix, Is Simply the Best Solution for Office 365 Deployments Inside RDS, Citrix, and VDI

RDC 4.0 Download and Upgrade Links

New features include:


Pinpoint Historic CPU, Memory, and Other Session Load Bottlenecks on Servers Instantly With “Historical Performance and Load Across the Farm” Dashboard

This Feature Is Present In the Following Editions: Suite
Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander allowed you to view recent performance metrics across your servers, as well as pull up snapshots of performance for all user sessions given a specific period of time. However, the new Historical Performance And Load Across The Farm Dashboard allows you to scroll through hour-by-hour graphs of when your RDS session host servers were under peak load, in terms of memory, CPU, or session count. The graph is interactive, so you can click on a point of interest, and be immediately transported to another dashboard that shows all of the sessions active in that time frame- so you can review the user session(s) that contributed most to the server load and determine what they were doing at the time.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm
Track CPU, Memory, and Session Counts On Your RDS Servers Over Time
Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (2)
Pinpoint Times of High Resource Utilization on RDS Session Hosts.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (3)

Review Which Users Caused High Resource Utilization
After Clicking On a Timeframe of High Resource Utilization, Immediately See Which Users Impacted the Session Host(s) Most.

Quickly Filter Dashboards By Date Range and RDS Collection Name / Server Groups

This Feature Is Present In the Following Editions: Suite
For organizations with larger RDS deployments, attempting to review all of the session host servers in a single dashboard can get complicated. Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander allows you to quickly filter dashboards by a 1.) RDS collection name, 2.) user-defined group of RDS servers, and 3.) in some cases, a date range lookback. By doing so, you can keep multiple dashboards up and running inside the Remote Desktop Commander Client, with one dashboard per RDS collection.

Filter Dashboards By RDS Collections
Limit the Scope of Session Hosts Shown in Dashboards By Filtering By Collection Name or Computer Grouping.

 

Filtered Dashboard By Computer Group
A Dashboard With Fewer Elements Filtered By RDS Collection Name / Computer Group

Azure and Standard SQL Server Authentication Support

This Feature Is Present In the Following Editions: Suite
Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander required use of a local SQL Server deployment with Windows Integrated Authentication. Version 4 now also allows you to use a.) an on-premise SQL server with Standard (explicit username/password) Authentication and/or b.) a Microsoft Azure SQL Server deployment. This provides organizations with the flexibility to create multiple SQL databases for multiple RDS deployments on a single SQL Server, even when each deployment is isolated in a different, non-trusting Windows domain.

Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data
Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data

Adjust RDP Permissions on Session Hosts Directly In the Session Navigator

This Feature Is Present In the Following Editions: Lite and Suite

In the summer of 2017, Andy Milford, CEO of RDPSoft and Microsoft MVP in the Remote Desktop Services category, released the beta version of the new free tool called RDSConfig at the PureRDS.org resource site he maintains. Just as TSAdmin was removed from Windows Server 2012, TSConfig was similarly removed, making it very difficult for RDS admins to adjust the RDP permissions on session hosts. This has prevented many organizations from being able to delegate certain RDS management roles to non-admin users, such as shadowing users for support purposes. In Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander, this tool has been integrated into the Session Navigator area of both the Lite and Suite versions. Now admins can easily view and adjust RDP permissions on their session hosts any time they wish.

GUI to Adjust RDP Permissions
View and edit RDP permissions directly inside Remote Desktop Commander.
Adjusting RDP Permissions Granularly
Use the RDSConfig utility to view and adjust RDP permissions on your session hosts.

Speed Improvements and Other Bug Fixes

In version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander, we have optimized many SQL queries to speed the retrieval of historic performance data to the Client. Also, we have repaired a few bugs, including one that affected the ability to record screenshots from multiple monitor sessions in certain instances.

New RDS Consulting Services: Schedule an RDS Performance Audit, Request Custom Reports, or Schedule White Glove Installation

2017 was a great year for RDPSoft, and to celebrate our continuing growth, we’re now pleased to offer additional services to go along with our Remote Desktop Commander Suite solution.

  • RDS Performance Audit
  • Administrator time is at a premium these days. Often, you may know there is a performance issue with your RDS farm, but you don’t have the time to figure it out on your own. Let RDPSoft do that for you. We will install our Remote Desktop Commander Suite software in your environment, and then gather up key performance metrics, including data from RDS-related event logs and installed Hotfixes. After gathering data for a week, we will build a comprehensive report that benchmarks performance in your farm and offers suggestions on how to improve it. You don’t even need to have your own instance of Microsoft SQL available for data collection – we can provide you with a secure connection to an Azure SQL database as part of this service. For more detailed information, and to request a quote, click here.

  • Custom Report Design
  • Do you need a report that’s not available out of the box? Let the RDPSoft team build that for you. Using the free Microsoft Report Builder tool, we can design custom SQL queries and RDLC templates that connect into our Remote Desktop Commander database. Click here for more information and to request a quote.

  • White Glove Installation
  • For only $99, an RDPSoft technician will establish a remote support session with you and install the Remote Desktop Commander Suite software. This service includes a.) installing the software, b.) linking it to a SQL Server Express, SQL Server, or Azure SQL database, c.) adding session hosts / workstations for monitoring, d.) verifying that data is being collected properly, and e.) verifying that the data is displayed properly in reports and the Remote Desktop Commander Client. Click here to purchase this service and schedule a time with an RDPSoft support expert.

Rolling Out Office 365 in RDS, Citrix, or VDI? FSLogix Is Your Lifesaver.

If you attempt an Office 365 deployment inside a virtualized environment, including RDS and VDI, you will be hit with lots of snags. Our technology alliance partner, FSLogix, pioneered the solution to these issues, and they remain the best solution in the market for virtualized Office 365 roll outs. Please read this wonderful article and product comparison that details why they remain the best-of-breed solution.

Remote Desktop Commander 4 Download and Upgrade Links

If you are an existing Remote Desktop Commander SUITE subscription licensee and/or active maintenance agreement holder, click here to request upgrade instructions.

If you are an existing Remote Desktop Commander LITE user, click here to download the latest version, which you can install directly over previous Remote Desktop Commander Lite versions.

If you’d like to learn more about the Remote Desktop Commander Suite, including its feature set and how to start a subscription for only $9.99 per server per month, click here.

Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander Almost Ready!

Hello friends and existing customers! We’re excited to let you know that the release of Remote Desktop Commander v4 is just about ready, and wanted to give you a sneak peak of all of the new features it contains.

We will be releasing Version 4 shortly after the start of the new year, along with a small price increase – our first price increase in over 18 months. If you’d like to test drive a release candidate of version 4, please complete the form here and mention that you want to try the release candidate of Version 4 in your comments.

New Remote Desktop Commander 4 Features

Now You Can Pinpoint Historic CPU, Memory, and Other Session Load Bottlenecks on Servers Instantly With the “Historical Performance and Load Across the Farm” Dashboard

Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander allowed you to view recent performance metrics across your servers, as well as pull up snapshots of performance for all user sessions given a specific period of time. However, the new Historical Performance And Load Across The Farm Dashboard allows you to scroll through hour-by-hour graphs of when your RDS session host servers were under peak load, in terms of memory, CPU, or session count. The graph is interactive, so you can click on a point of interest, and you will immediately be transported to another dashboard that shows you all of the sessions active in that time frame, so you can review the user session(s) that contributed most to the server load and determine what they were doing at the time.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm
Track CPU, Memory, and Session Counts On Your RDS Servers Over Time
Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (2)
Pinpoint Times of High Resource Utilization on RDS Session Hosts.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (3)

Review Which Users Caused High Resource Utilization
After Clicking On a Timeframe of High Resource Utilization, Immediately See Which Users Impacted the Session Host(s) Most.

Quickly Filter Dashboards By Date Range and RDS Collection Name / Server Groups

For organizations with larger RDS deployments, attempting to review all of the session host servers in a single dashboard can get complicated. Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander allows you to quickly filter dashboards by an 1.) RDS collection name, 2.) a user-defined group of RDS servers, and 3.) in some cases, a date range lookback. By doing so, you can keep multiple dashboards up and running inside the Remote Desktop Commander Client, with one dashboard per RDS collection.

Filter Dashboards By RDS Collections
Limit the Scope of Session Hosts Shown in Dashboards By Filtering By Collection Name or Computer Grouping.

 

Filtered Dashboard By Computer Group
A Dashboard With Fewer Elements Filtered By RDS Collection Name / Computer Group

Azure and Standard SQL Server Authentication Support

Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander required use of a local SQL Server deployment with Windows Integrated Authentication. Version 4 now also allows you to use a.) an on-premise SQL server with Standard (explicit username/password) Authentication and/or b.) a Microsoft Azure SQL Server deployment. This provides organizations with the flexibility to create multiple SQL databases for multiple RDS deployments on a single SQL Server, even when each deployment is isolated in a different, non-trusting Windows domain.

Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data
Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data

Other Performance Improvements

In addition to the features listed above, we’ve made many other performance improvements and bug fixes in this version. Stay tuned for our official launch announcement shortly!