Virtualization is the hottest term in IT these days, and there are other areas that are virtualized in the industry that aren’t used for servers or desktops. Microsoft has been virtualizing applications for years via Terminal Services. Now that Windows Server 2008 has been released, here is a list of what the virtualized presentation layer of Terminal Services has to offer:
  • RemoteApp
  • Gateway
  • Session Broker
  • Easy Print
  • Web Access

Terminal Services RemoteApp

With Windows Server 2008, you now have the ability to publish an application. In the past, you had the ability to publish a desktop and, with some creative thinking, publish applications. Today, you can publish an application, and it is delivered to the desktop as if it was an application running directly on your desktop.

Terminal Services Gateway

With old implementations of Terminal Services, your RDP traffic on your network would run over port 3389 unless you chose a different port. IT administrators would balk at the deployment of Terminal Services to the Internet outside their firewall and CIOs would not want to implement a VPN solution alone due to the costs. Most shops just would not allow RDP traffic outside their firewall or would take advantage of Citrix if they already owned it.

With Windows Server 2008, we now have a TS Gateway that allows you to run RDP traffic over port 443 (https) to create encrypted connections from remote users to the Terminal Server inside the firewall.

Terminal Services Session Broker

Session broker is to Terminal Services as Network Load Balancing is to Web servers. With the session broker, you can enable session load balancing, and new sessions are distributed to the least loaded server in the Terminal Services farm.

Terminal Services Easy Print

Printing in Terminal Services and Citrix has always been a beast and a much-hated feature. In a typical scenario, you would have to have the printer drivers installed on the Terminal Server and on the client machine in order for TS printing to work — if it worked then. Managing the printer drivers on the client and servers was also a nightmare. In a big Terminal Server shop, this would be a full-time job.

In Windows Server 2008, you now print to a desktop session. When you go to print a document, you will see all the local printers, and when you print the document, the print job is rendered in Microsoft XPS on the TS server and sent to the client. You will no longer have to install and manage printer drivers on the Terminal Server.

Terminal Services Web Access

With TS Web Access, you can publish applications to a Web page. With the default installation, you have an out-of-box experience that will work right away, or you can use SharePoint.