By Bret Moeller

Windows 2000 Terminal Services, with its improved thin-client technology, can make life a lot easier for network administrators. Unlike Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, which is a separate product, Terminal Services (TS) is an integrated operating system component of Windows 2000. TS can deliver the Windows 2000 desktop to remote computers and other devices, such as Windows CE devices. Processing takes place on the server, which receives all keyboard and mouse activity, while the remote computers or devices receive only display output. Figure A shows the Terminal Services manager screen.

Figure A
Terminal Services manager screen

Terminal Services requires additional licensing, and each client accessing a TS server requires its own TS Client Access License (CAL). Although using TS is more expensive in terms of licensing, it should be easier to manage and audit because of its TS CAL.
Feature overview
Among the most significant features of Windows 2000 TS is its integration with Windows 2000, which should reduce support time and costs. Activation of TS is enabled through installation or by using the Add/Remove Programs applet in Control Panel to launch the Windows Components Wizard, shown in Figure B. Both installing and uninstalling are easier than with NT’s Terminal Server Edition, although rebooting the server is still necessary. However, if TS is no longer needed, you can simply remove it—unlike its predecessor, which requires a complete reinstallation of NT. Because this is a service, you can evaluate Terminal Services without major modifications to existing servers.

Figure B
Adding or removing TS with Windows Components Wizard

TS also features print redirection, which allows printing from session applications to local printers. A port redirector manages session application print jobs to the server print queue and provides printing to devices that are local to the client. Thus, users can now use their local printers for output, which will undoubtedly be a convenience.

Session Remote Control (SRC) allows an administrator to monitor the actions of any user logged onto Terminal Server by shadowing a client session. Support personnel and administrators can not only monitor client sessions, but also input keystrokes or mouse actions by remote control. Interaction may be enabled or disabled per server or user through Terminal Services Manager and selection of the Remote Control command. Session Remote Control can reduce support time and costs for application software issues and facilitate training.

Perhaps the most popular aspect of TS is its performance. Bitmap images can now be cached on the client side, thus reducing the amount of data transferred to the client. You enable bitmap caching in the Terminal Services Client by selecting Cache Bitmaps To Disk. This feature will be very useful for users relying on low-speed connectivity. Bitmap caching causes the screen to refresh from the end user’s local cache and reduces transfer time from the server. TS offers an approximate bandwidth reduction of 15 percent over NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition.

Windows 2000 allows multiple servers to provide terminal services to clients and supports “server farms.” To facilitate this feature, Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server use network load balancing. Since TS is integrated with Windows 2000, network load balancing will occur within the operating system.

Windows 2000 Terminal Services offers improved support and provides a number of added features that contribute to performance and functionality. This product is worthy of consideration by organizations that require a scalable, integrated solution to accommodate thin-client connectivity.
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