Data Centers

Use remote desktop to connect to the live Windows Server 2003 console

The remote desktop capability found in Windows Server 2003 can be a real lifesaver as you perform common administrative tasks on your Windows machine.

In Windows 2000, the remote desktop functionality left something to be desired. The remote desktop was always presented in a virtual session. Remote access to the physical console was not provided through the remote desktop tool, necessitating the need for a tool such as virtual network computing (VNC) for users who required remote access to the physical server console. Some services do not work well when interacting with a virtual session, making remote desktop useless for this purpose.

With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has provided a "console mode," which corrects this problem by providing remote access to the physical console, thus eliminating the need for additional tools. This is good for a couple of reasons: One, all of your remote administration needs can be met through a single tool; two, the fewer remote access tools you install, the less attack surface you provide to a potential hacker.

The easiest way to connect to the console is to go to Start | Run and type mstsc /console. This will start the Remote Desktop Connection tool in console mode. This method also allows you the flexibility to pick and choose when you will connect to a virtual session versus a console-based session.

Note that this connection does not count against the two session remote administration limit. So, in essence, Windows Server 2003 with a version 5.1 or higher Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client provides up to three remote console sessions.

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