Starting with Windows Server 2003, administrators have been able to redirect the server's console to a remote desktop session. This is referred to as session zero, and it is invoked like this:
mstsc /v:servername /console
Now that we're accustomed to this connection opportunity, Windows Server 2008 has removed the session zero connection option.
While the console redirection was a nice way to connect to a server when the existing two sessions were in use, it had its limitations. The number one problem with session zero is interactive device driver installations that occur via a plug and play enumeration of multiple devices. This most frequently occurs when adding multi-port serial adapters, a USB hub with multiple ports, or any other device that has a controller and subsequent individual devices. The root device would install correctly, but whenever the individual ports were enumerated, this functionality would not work correctly via a console redirected remote desktop session.
True console access is still best served by device extension mechanisms (such as a keyboard/video/mouse device), hardware controller (such as the Dell DRAC, HP iLO, VNC, pcAnywhere, DameWare), or other products that do a true console redirection.
If you attempt to connect to a Windows Server 2008 system with the /console parameter, it will ignore that option and pass the session on for a connection.
For the newest version of the remote desktop client software (6.1), the /admin parameter is a new feature, but it doesn't really change much based on how administrators have used remote desktop over the years. These changes are outlined in the Microsoft KB article 947723.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.