Category Archives: RemoteApp

Azure RemoteApp discontinued – use Riptide Hosting as alternative to Azure RemoteApp and Citrix

Azure RemoteApp discontinued – use Riptide Hosting as alternative to Azure RemoteApp and Citrix

Microsoft announced this month that it is discontinuing its Azure RemoteApp service and no new purchases will be available after October 1, 2016. Here is a link to their announcement

Azure RemoteApp shutting down

Riptide Hosting provides Remote Desktop (Terminal Server) Hosting using Windows Server 2012 R2 (soon Windows Server 2016) with Remote Desktop Services for publishing user customizable desktop sessions or RemoteApps.   We have several options for delivering cloud hosted remote desktops and applications and can include monthly licensing for Windows Server, RDS user licenses, MS Office, SQL Server and more.  You can start with as little as 2 users (not 10 or 20 users minimum as with other hosting provders).  Give us a call or email and we will talk with you regarding your specific situation.

Hosted Remote Desktop Services RDS on Windows Server – Summary

RDS SUMMARY:

We get many questions about Remote Desktop Services on our hosted Windows Servers and below is a summary of many of our blog post, issues and links to helpful solutions and discussions.

Most clients that use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) use full “desktop sessions” where each user has their own desktop session to modify/customize the desktop, open their programs, save files, open MS Office documents (if Office is installed), etc.   User can share files with other users through the use of public folders.  Desktop sessions are the default method in RDS and are typically easy to use from any device with the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection client which is built-in on Windows PCs and can be downloaded for MACs, iphone, android, etc. If you need to share and save files, interface with Office, install several applications, or have full desktop features, you will likely want to use regular/full desktop sessions without adding the advanced configurations and complexity of RemoteApp (see RemoteApp section below).  In 2012 R2, during the installation of RDS, “Session Virtualization” is akin to desktop session.

INSTALLING APPS and PRINTER/DRIVE REDIRECTION: install your application using the proper RD install mode via control panel instead of double-clicking on the exe file.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/installing-programs-on-remote-desktop-terminal-server/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/redirection-of-printers-and-local-drives-on-hosted-rdp-server/

RD CLIENT DOWNLOADS:  Links to download remote desktop clients for MAC/iphone/ipads and Android.  We recommend you look the for the most recent version if these links are out of date.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/remote-desktop-connection-client-for-macs/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/remote-desktop-connection-client-for-android/

LOGIN ISSUES:  Don’t check the box in user properties “change password upon login” and other items:

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/remote-desktop-connection-an-authentication-error-has-occurred-the-local-security-authority-cannot-be-contacted/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/issue-in-windows-2012-r2-when-setting-rdp-users-to-change-password-upon-login/

LOGOFF DISCONNECTED SESSIONS: For Windows Server 2012R2 only.  Much easier to change these settings in 2008R2 via RDS GUI without following these steps.  We recommend you utilize these steps to logoff disconnected sessions.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-set-time-limit-for-disconnected-sessions-windows-server-2012r2/

RDS LICENSING:  Is your hosting provider providing the RDS user licenses?  If you have your own licensing that you wish to use (Office, SQL Server, RDS, etc.), use our dedicated servers.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/does-your-hosting-provider-offer-remote-desktop-services-licensing/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/microsoft-licensing-volume-licensing-versus-spla-licensing-costs/

 

LAUNCH PROGRAM AUTOMATICALLY UPON LOGIN – to launch a single program without using RemoteApp

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-launch-a-program-automatically-when-logging-into-remote-desktop-server/

 

WINDOWS UPDATES TIMING: For Windows Server 2012R2 only, use link below to adjust timing of Windows Updates and reboots.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-modify-timing-of-windows-updates-in-2012-2012-r2-to-control-timing-of-updates-and-restarts/

SHADOW SESSIONS: For Windows Server 2012R2 workgroup mode only, see link.  Shadowing sessions in 2008R2 is easy and doesn’t require steps below.

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-shadow-a-users-remote-desktop-session-on-windows-2012-r2-server-not-connected-to-a-domain/

REMOTEAPP:

Instead of a full desktop session for each user, RemoteApp is a feature in RDS where the user doesn’t get a desktop session but rather just an application as if it is running on the end-user’s desktop. While RemoteApp can be a great feature, there are some limitations as noted below (difficult use for MAC users, no desktop session to save/share Office and other files, etc.).  Setup and use of RemoteApp differs in Windows Server 2008R2 and 2012R2.  If you have MAC users, your only option if you want to use RemoteApp is Windows 2012R2 with the RDWeb role service installed as well as joining to a domain.   An alternative to RemoteApp in some situations is to configure user properities to have a program automatically start upon login or desktop sessions that have been configured via group policies to hide some desktop features or icons.

Regular/Full desktop sessions are typically much easier to use than RemoteApp especially if you wish to interface with MS Office, share documents with other users, customize shortcuts or your desktop, etc., but RemoteApp is beneficial in certain use cases where you don’t want the user to logon to the server desktop and wish to only provide access to a specific program.  In 2012R2, RemoteApp requires some advanced configurations such as requires joining to a domain and you’ll want to install certificates, etc.

RemoteApp in Windows Server 2008R2:

Works in workgroup mode (doesn’t require joined to domain controller like 2012R2). Managed through the RemoteApp Manager in administrative tools. Use the RemoteApp wizard to publish an application as a Remote App. There are several methods to distribute Remote Apps in 2008R2 of which two are:

  1. Distribute a RDP file to the user (no longer available in 2012R2). Create a .rdp file in the Remote App Manager (click on the Remote App and click on “create .rdp file) then manually distribute to user(s) as needed.
  2. RDWeb website where users access the specified program via a URL. You need to install the RDWeb access role service which installs IIS too. RDWeb Access website on 2008R2 requires client browser to have ActiveX enabled and therefore doesn’t work on Chrome, Firefox or any browser other than Internet Explorer (which may require adding URL to compatibility settings or trusted sites to avoid “browser not support” error message) and therefore basically excludes MAC users.  https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731508.aspx

RemoteApp in Windows Server 2012R2:

Remote App Manager doesn’t exist in 2012R2 and in order to view the RDS section in Server Manager, the server must be joined to a domain. Distribution methods: the ability to create a RDP file to distributed via the RemoteApp wizard is NO longer available. Use the RDWeb method or other methods such as Web Feed URL method via control panel on end-user’s local PC are still available.

  1. RDWeb URL – 2012R2 no longer requires ActiveX and therefore should be much more accessible from other browser types. When enabled, you can access the RD Web Access Web site at https://IPADDRESS/rdweb.
  2. However, in 2012R2, to distribute Remote App programs via the RD Web page, the RDWeb server role must be installed which requires the server be joined to a domain first, or the Active Directory Domain Controller role installed on the server first which is usually not recommended to do on the same server (and won’t even load on 2012 but will on 2012R2).

 

Links to some of our blog posts on RemoteApp:

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/remoteapp-and-options-for-mac-users/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-set-up-remoteapp-on-server-2012-r2/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-launch-a-program-automatically-when-logging-into-remote-desktop-server/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-create-group-policies-in-server-2012r2-that-only-affect-specified-users/

http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/remoteapp-rdweb-website-hosted-on-windows-server-2008r2-does-not-work-with-windows-10-edge-browser/

RemoteApp RDWeb website hosted on Windows Server 2008R2 does not work with Windows 10 Edge Browser

If you are using the RemoteApp RDWeb Access website feature (RDweb) in Windows Server 2008 R2 and have client/user PCs that have upgraded to Windows 10, read below. This does not apply if you are using full RDP desktop sessions to login and see a desktop which is what many/most people do – i.e. using RDP client to connect to a desktop session.

If users are accessing applications using the RD Web access website (i.e. https://IP or Hostname/rdweb ) to access applications instead of logging into the server via the remote desktop connection client, you will notice that the website doesn’t work from Windows 10 PCs using the new Microsoft Edge browser.  RemoteApp RDWEB hosted on a Windows 2008 R2 Server requires the client browser to have ActiveX enabled which basically limits usage to Internet Explorer (doesn’t work on Chrome, Firefox nor for MAC users).  (Note: Windows Server 2012R2 RemoteApp RDWEB no longer requires ActiveX).

Solution

The good news in this situation is Windows 10 still includes Internet Explorer and if you open the website using IE, you should be able to access it – see steps below.  In Windows 10, open IE separately and not within Edge (i.e. in Edge, you can click tools, and then say “open in IE” but don’t do it this way).  Follow the steps below to open IE, add rdweb URL to trusted sites in IE, then close IE and reopen IE, then it should work.

 

  1. CLICK START BUTTON and start typing “Internet Explorer” which should pop-up in search results and select – see screenshot below.  Don’t click the browser shortcut in taskbar because that will just open Edge.

Windows10startmenuforIE

2.  After IE opens, go to the url you use for RDweb.  Click Allow on popup to allow MS RDS web access – see screenshot.

RDweballowRDSWA

 

3.  Do not login yet – first we need to add to trusted sites in Internet Explorer (only need to do first time), then will need to exit all IE windows and start again.

4.  Under the tools icon, click internet options like this, which will open the Option windows, then go to Security Tab, Trusted Sites (the green checkbox), then click on the “Sites” button and then add the url which may be pre-populated – see screenshots.

TrustedSites

5.  Next, close all Internet Explorer windows and start over except this time login to the RDS site.

 

RemoteApp and options for MAC users

REMOTEAPP

 

For remote desktop (terminal server) application hosting where the user is logging into a full desktop session, MAC users should have a good experience and there are Remote Desktop Connection Clients that can be downloaded for MACs, iphone, and ipad. (The Remote Desktop Connection Client is preloaded on all Windows machines and doesn’t require a download to use it).  The Clients for MACs/Apple can be found here:  http://www.RiptideHosting.com/blog/remote-desktop-connection-client-for-macs/

 

RemoteApp is an optional feature of Remote Desktop Services where users are not provided a desktop session but rather can only open a specified application.  This feature doesn’t work well with MAC users in Windows 2008R2 due to the limitations below.  It should work better in Windows 2012R2 for MAC users but only if using the RDweb login option.   We have many MAC users using our Remote Desktop hosting although most are using full desktop sessions instead of RemoteApp.  There are other options instead of RemoteApp as described toward the end of this post.

 

With RemoteApp, you can distribute a RDP file to a user (Windows 2008R2 only – “RDP distributable file” – this option is not available in Windows 2012R2) or you can set it up for users to access the specified program  via a URL.  The user can open the specified application but does not get a full desktop session to save/share files, etc.

  1. RD Web URL – When enabled, you can access the RD Web Access Web site at https://IPaddress/rdweb .  In 2008R2, the website requires that the client browser has ActiveX enabled which basically limits usage to Internet Explorer and therefore excludes MAC users.  (as noted here — https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731508.aspx).  In 2012R2, the RD Web Access website no longer requires ActiveX  and is supposed to work with many more browser options.  However, Server 2012R2 does require that the Active Directory Domain Controller role be installed to use RemoteApp whereas it is not required in Windows 2008R2.
  2. Create RDP file via the RemoteApp Wizard to distribute to users.  This works easily to create the file and other PC users should be able to open it easily.  MAC users generally have issues when they try to open the file where the system doesn’t recognize it.  Note: Windows Server 2012R2 no longer has this option to create the RemoteApp distributable file.

If you are going to use RemoteApp in 2008R2, contact us for additional instructions and tips that we can provide.

 

 

OTHER OPTIONS

 

  • User full desktop sessions but configure group policies to limit access to certain things, remove icons, prevent access to drives, etc.

How to launch a program automatically when logging into Remote Desktop Server

Automatically launching a program or application upon login to a Remote Desktop Session.  See below for methods to use the “start program at login” policy which can be configured per user.  Another method to limit specific programs to a user is via RemoteApp.  We have several other posts regarding RemoteApp and how to set it up and its limitations (i.e. RemoteApp setup is easier in 2008R2 (works in Workgroup mode) than 2012R2 but RDweb requires ActiveX (so IE only) and it doesn’t work for MAC users, while use of RemoteApp in 2012R2 requires joining to a Domain).

1) USING ENVIRONMENT TAB OF EACH USER’S PROPERTIES ON SERVER:  If you want a program to automatically start when a user logs on to the RDP server instead of showing a full desktop session, you can configure this in the Environment tab of the Properties window for each particular user. 

 User_Properties_Environments

After you have made the changes, you should test that it works properly for your users by logging into the server using the accounts you changed/created including testing it with simultaneous sessions and to verify the sessions close properly when the application is closed.

We highly recommend enabling policy to log off disconnected sessions:

  • Enable policy to log off disconnected sessions immediately or within a few minutes so you don’t have a blank screen if users don’t properly exist a program.  Existing the program (instead of clicking X in upper right corner of program) will properly log off the session but enabling this policy will ensure that an improper disconnected session is automatically logged off.  See block post here for instructions on how to enable this policy on both 2012R2 and 2008R2 http://www.riptidehosting.com/blog/how-to-set-time-limit-for-disconnected-sessions-windows-server-2012r2/

2) USING PROGRAMS TAB ON REMOTE DESKTOP CLIENT – Another method is to use the programs tab on your local remote desktop client prior to logging in to the server.  On the programs tab, you can enter the path for program to start upon login.  You can also create a RDP shortcut with this information saved on to your desktop.  We have a video on our website on creating RDP shortcuts – https://youtu.be/iLKSMcIrfqE .  A disadvantage to this method versus the first method above is that each user can edit the shortcut and change the settings.  Your IT person can create these shortcuts and provide them to each user.  

If you use this method on Windows 2008R2, you may have to change settings in RemoteApp under RDP Settings Change and allow access to unlisted programs.

3) USING GROUP POLICY – Another method to configure this is to configure programs to automatically start in the RD Session Host Configuration settings and in Group Policy, although then the logon settings could be applied universally to all users, including the Administrator (which means Administrator may not be able to access the desktop, start button, etc.) whereas the method above allows configuration by User.  You could also create a separate group policy that would be applicable for a specific group, such as non-administrators, so the group policy change wouldn’t affect all users. 

4)  REMOTEAPP – Another method is to configure the RemoteApp feature in Remote Desktop Services (RDS).  In 2008R2, this feature works great (either the RemoteApp distributable file or RD Web) for PC users but not for MAC usersIn 2012R2, the RemoteApp features requires the Active Directory / Domain Controller service to be install on the server before RemoteApp can be used

 

 

How to set up RemoteApp on Server 2012 R2

RemoteApp in Windows Server 2012R2

To use Remote App on Windows Server 2012 R2, the server must be connected to a domain for RemoteApp to work (this was not a requirement in 2008 R2).  See link below, in 2012 R2 (but not 2012), Active Directory can be on the same server as RD Connection Broker.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2013/07/09/what-s-new-in-remote-desktop-services-for-windows-server-2012-r2.aspx — See this section:  “Single server RDS deployment including Active Directory. We now support running our RD Connection Broker role service on the same physical instance as an Active Directory Domain Controller. In addition, we published guidelines for how RD Session Host could be used without the RD Connection Broker.”

Ways to Distribute RemoteApps in Windows Server 2012 R2:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/14488.distribution-of-remote-apps-and-desktops-in-windows-server-2012.aspx — “Distribution of Remote Apps and Desktops in Windows Server 2012”

1) Distribute using RD Web Access – similar to how it was done in 2008 R2 by going to your site: http://IPofSERVER/rdweb
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee216776.aspx 2008R2Access RemoteApp and Desktop Connection by Using the RD Web Access Web Site
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731508.aspx 2008R2 Connect to Remote Desktop Web Access

2) Distribute using Web Feed URL in the control panel – In 2008R2, you could create .rdp files using RemoteApp Wizard but that has been replaced in 2012 and the Web Feed method is recommended.
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/14488.distribution-of-remote-apps-and-desktops-in-windows-server-2012.aspx — Distribution of Remote Apps and Desktops in Windows Server 2012

Another approach (which isn’t specific to RemoteApp) is to create remote desktop shortcuts – see video on our website – http://www.riptidehosting.com/Dedicated-Server-Configuration-Videos.aspx These shortcuts can be made regardless of remote app but users have the ability to edit them.

Additional Links relating to 2012 RDS:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831447.aspx – remote desktop services overview for 2012

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/10817.publishing-remoteapps-in-windows-server-2012.aspx – Publishing RemoteApps in 2012

http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2012/05/09/windows-server-2012-remote-desktop-services-rds.aspx – Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on windows server blog