One of the continuous laments that we’ve heard from our customer base, for years now concerns 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, eh, not so much.
Let’s Face It: Remote Desktop Shadowing Hasn’t Been a Great Experience For, Well . . . Forever!
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.
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 Way Too Long!
The other need that we hear frequently from our customers is 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 call 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 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.
**Note 1: With the release of Premium Management Features in Remote Desktop Commander Lite, legacy shadowing support for Windows Server 2008 and legacy shadowing through the MSTSC client were 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 latest client on a VM or system OTHER than the system running the core Remote Desktop Commander Suite components.
Updated: November 2020.