05 January 2011

Remote Desktop Connection Client 7.0 for Vista and XP

For everyone using Windows 7 you don't need to worry about this post.  If however you have Vista or even XP and you would like to get the most out of your Windows 2008 R2 RDS environement I can strongly reccomend that you update the RDC to the latest version.

New features in the RDC 7.0 client update
The RDC 7.0 client update contains the following new features.

Web Single Sign-On (SSO) and Web forms-based authentication

Remote Desktop (RD) Web Access now uses forms-based authentication to improve the user experience. Web SSO makes sure that after a user is logged on, no additional passwords are required for RD Gateway, RD Session Host servers and RemoteApp programs. 

For security, Web SSO requires remote applications to be signed using a certificate from a trusted issuer.

Access to personal virtual desktops by using RD Connection Broker

Users can access personal virtual desktops when they use the new Remote Desktop Virtualization Host in Windows Server 2008 R2. Personal desktops are assigned to users on a one-to-one basis and maintain state over time.

Access to virtual desktop pools by using RD Connection Broker

Users can access virtual desktop pools when they use the new Remote Desktop Virtualization Host in Windows Server 2008 R2. Pooled desktops are shared between multiple users, and all changes a user makes are typically rolled back when the user logs off.

Status & disconnect system tray icon

A single system tray icon enables users to see all of their remote connections. The user can disconnect all or individual connections that use this icon. The icon appears only when opening RDP connections which are associated with a RemoteApp and Desktop Connection feed.

RD Gateway-based device redirection enforcement

In Windows Server 2008, it was possible for non-Microsoft Remote Desktop clients to override the gateway device redirection controls. In Windows Server 2008 R2, device redirection settings are defined in RD Gateway and can be configured not to be overridden.

RD Gateway system and logon messages

System and logon messages can be added to RD Gateway and displayed to the remote desktop user. System messages can be used to inform users of server maintenance issues such as shutdowns and restarts. Logon messages can be used to display a logon notice to users before they gain access to remote resources.

RD Gateway background authorization & authentication

Background authentication and authorization requests are performed after a configured session timeout is reached. Sessions for users whose property information has not changed are not affected, and authentication and authorization requests are sent in the background.

RD Gateway idle & session time-outs

Configurable idle and session time-outs with RD Gateway provide better control of users who connect through RD Gateway. An idle time-out lets the user reclaim resources that are used by inactive user sessions without affecting the user's session or data. This helps free up resources on the RD Gateway server.

NAP remediation with RD Gateway

NAP remediation allows you to manage remote clients by updating them with the latest software updates and settings. This helps keep remote clients in compliance with network security policies.

Windows Media Player redirection

Windows Media Player Redirection enables content hosted in Windows Media Player to be redirected to the client for decoding on users’ computers. This improves the quality of the video and makes sure that video and audio are always in sync. This works for both full Windows Media Player and Windows Media Player controls hosted in Web pages.

Bidirectional audio

You can redirect audio recording devices such as microphones on the client computer. This is ideal for applications such as Windows 7 voice recognition, and applications that record audio.

Multiple monitor support

In Windows Vista and in Windows Server 2008, Terminal Services supported only monitor spanning. Remote Desktop Services now includes multiple monitor support for up to 16 monitors, and works for both Remote Desktop and RemoteApp programs.

Note For connections with multiple monitor support enabled, AeroGlass support is currently not supported and will be turned off.

Enhanced video playback

Bitmap acceleration improves the remote display of graphics-intensive applications such as PowerPoint, Flash, and Silverlight. 

As you can see there are loads of enhancements that really can come in handy.  Probably the most noticeable is the ability to use Single Sign On (SSO) for older clients.  This is a huge enhancement for anyone who tried to used the Web interface before.

To update the clients you will need the latest package for your system. (Download direct from Microsoft)

Update for Windows Vista, x86-based versions
DownloadDownload the Update for Windows Vista for x86-based systems package now.
Update for Windows Vista, x64-based versions
Update for Windows XP, x86-based versions

There is one more thing though if you have XP SP3 and you want to get SSO working.  
Credential Security Support Provider (CredSSP.) CredSSP enables a program to use client-side SSP to delegate user credentials from the client computer to the target server.  By default this id disabled in Windows XP SP3

To enable CredSSP you can make the following registry edits

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then press ENTER.
  2. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry subkey:
  3. In the details pane, right-click Security Packages, and then click Modify.
  4. In the Value data box, type tspkg. Leave any data that is specific to other SSPs, and then click OK.
  5. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry subkey:
  6. In the details pane, right-click SecurityProviders, and then click Modify.
  7. In the Value data box, type credssp.dll. Leave any data that is specific to other SSPs, and then click OK.
  8. Exit Registry Editor.
  9. Restart the computer.

You can also do this via group policy - see the link for more details http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951608/

Given the updates specified above you can keep windows XP client running nicely on the latest version of terminal server.  What then would the benefit be of using Windows 7 as a client?  There are a few things only available from Windows7

Language Bar docking
RemoteApp allows users to use their docked Language Bar with their RemoteApp applications just as they do with the local applications.

This productive functionality was previously unavailable. Instead, users had to use the floating Language bar.

Remote application task scheduler

Remote application task scheduler functionality automatically starts remote applications on the Remote Desktop client required by the user. The client computer must have Windows 7 installed to use this feature.

Aero Glass support

Terminal Services in Windows Server 2008 did not support Aero Glass remoting for sessions. This is now supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services, but is incompatible with multi-monitor support.

Start applications and desktops from 'RemoteApp and Desktop Connections'

Users can subscribe to all of their RemoteApp programs and desktops which are then listed in their local Start menu. The list is automatically updated as items are added or deleted.

As my recommendation has always been when it came to Citrix client or plugins or whatever they choose to call their client now, you need to enable the client to make use of new features and enhancements. An old client might work for you but it will not be doing so optimally.  In short keep the client machines updated.

For more info check out the following article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/969084 that I heavily copied and pasted from.

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