Friday, June 14, 2013

Tech Ed 2013, Madrid.

bling_bethere[1]The Europe edition of Tech Ed 2013 will be held in Madrid, June 25-28. I will be staffing in the VDI booth as part of the Microsoft Solutions Experience area!

I will be doing demo’s of VDI / RDS in Windows Server 2012. If you have questions on VDI / RDS in Windows Server 2012 (or what’s coming in the R2 release) or want to see it live in action, drop by at the booth!

More info:

Opening hours of the Microsoft Solutions Experience area:



Tuesday, 25 June

10:30 – 13:30

Wednesday, 26 June

11:30 – 17:30

Thursday, 27 June

11:30 – 17:00

Friday, 28 June

11:30 – 15:00

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Predefining and customizing the Modern UI Start Screen on RDS 2012 R2

In a previous blog post called Predefining and customizing the Modern UI Start Screen on RDS 2012 I explained a way to predefine the contents and layout of a Start Screen in Windows Server 2012 and publish that to your users by creating and distributing the file appsfolder.itemdata-ms (with the read attribute either disabled or enabled).

As a quick recap, the new modern UI Start Screen can no longer be controlled by commonly used techniques (despite their downsides) like folder redirection, only the All Apps section can be controller. The Start Screen contents and look and feel are stored in a binary file as part of the users (roaming) profile. The previous article showed a step-by-step guide how to create a pre-defines start screen, publish that to your end users and be allow them to modify that pre-defined Start Screen to their needs.

So what's new?

As you might have heard Windows Server 2012 R2 was announced June 3rd 2013 at Tech Ed 2013 NA. During one of the sessions a new way to customize, predefine and distribute a Start Screen to end users got introduced. So it’s time for an update!

Note that Windows Server 2012 R2 has not been released yet, I too am not able to personally test this new mechanism until preview release, which will be later this month, so the screenshots and steps below are taken from the sessions held at Tech Ed.

After you have modified the Start Screen the way you want it to look for your end users, you can use the following PowerShell command to Export the Start Screen


You can then store that .XML file in a central location use the following Group Policy Object called “Start Screen Layout” which is inside:

User Configuration \ Polcies \ Administrative Templates \ Start Menu and Taskbar


To define the centrally stored .XML file


In case you’re wondering, this is the description of the GPO setting.


So the process became much easier compared to before! As it now seems this method will be supported on Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.


What's New in Windows Server 2012 R2 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Remote Desktop Services (more details!)

Yesterday, Adam Carter (Technical Product Manager) did a session on What's New in Windows Server 2012 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Remote Desktop Services on Tech Ed 2013 North America and announced the some of the new features in R2 in more detail! So I’m now able to talk some more on those details. Here is a wrap up of some of the announcements on R2!


Let’s start with the big feedback item Microsoft got after the release of Windows Server 2012 and that is bring shadowing (Remote Control) back! Back in September 2012 I wrote a review on RDS in Windows Server 2012 for called Managing RDS/VDI with Windows Server 2012 where I mentioned that I was very surprised and not too happy about the fact that Shadowing was a deprecated feature. And I was not the only one. I’ve seen many questions on TechNet Forum, replies to blog posts and many e-mail’s from people asking where shadowing was moved to. It is a widely used feature and it’s good that Microsoft listened to the feedback and reintroduced (and even improved!) shadowing in Windows Server 2012 R2.

A session can be shadowed using the Server Manager GUI


And you’ll be asked to view or interact with the session.


The user will be prompted to accept (if configured that way)


And also, it’s now fully supported to Shadow RemoteApps!! Which was previously not supported.

On the left you see a Remote App ran by the user, on the right you see the Remote Control Interface as seen by the admin.


Actually Shadowing / Remote Control  is now build into mstsc.exe so you don’t need the GUI to start the shadowing, for example using the command mstsc /v:<servername> /shadow 6 /control

Dynamically add / Remove monitors
Upon changing resolution or adding monitors you used to have to disconnect and reconnect to use the new resolution, that’s now dynamically. No more logoff, logon! This also works for tablet or surfaces when you rotate the device the session will pick up on that.

Improved RemoteApp behavior.
There have been many improvements in the way RemoteApp behave. Before when dragging a Window of a Remote App you just get the the windows outline


And, when you look at the taskbar preview you just see a genuine Excel Icon.


With Windows Server 2012 R2, when you drag a RemoteApp, it’s not just the border and a full preview of the application is available!


Quick Reconnect
The Remote App and Desktop Connections (RADC) can be used to sign up for corporate applications and desktops and publish them in the users local start screen or start menu. Part of this feature was the ability to disconnect all Remote Apps and later reconnect them. It used to take a long time to perform the full reconnect, they improved the time it takes the reconnection process to finish in R2 and it now does so under 5 seconds! Also, network loss detection has been improved to allow for a more intuitive reconnect phase.

Codec improvements
The continuing improvements in the codecs that are being used, less bandwidth, better performance.

There are some other new features not shown / announced yet, so I’m not allowed to show you that, but stay tuned to find out soon!


Monday, June 3, 2013

RDS Enhancements - Enhanced VDI in Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 has just been announced at Tech Ed NA 2013! With Windows Server 2012 R2 new features and improvements around RDS are also announced to further enhance VDI !

I’m not allowed to show detailed information yet, but here is a quick wrap up based on what’s just been posted on

“'…RDS Enhancements - Enhanced VDI in Server 2012 R2 which delivers improvements in Management, Value, and User Experience. Session Shadowing allows Admins to view and remotely control active user sessions in an RDSH server. Disk dedupe and storage tiering allow for lower cost storage options. User experience for RemoteApps, network connectivity and multiple display support has been improved. Administrators can now easily support users with session desktops to provide helpdesk style support. Administrators now have even more flexible storage options to support a VDI environment without expensive SAN investments. End users will find RemoteApp behavior is more like local apps, and the experience in low-bandwidth is better, with faster reconnects and improved compression, and support for multiple monitors…”


Expect more detailed information on these features soon on this blog including screenshots!

Part 3 in our series on VDI in Windows Server 2012 now online on Microsoft TechNet Magazine

Part 3 of the series of articles I’m co-authoring on VDI in Windows Server 2012 together with Kristin Griffin (also RDS MVP) is now online on Microsoft TechNet Magazine. Read it here: Windows Server 2012: Manage your RDS with RDMS

In this part we’ll describe the main sections of Remote Desktop Management Services (RDMS) and explore how RDMS categorizes server properties. Then we’ll walk through several examples of how to use RDMS to manage your VDI session-based deployment