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How does Microsoft RemoteApp server-based virtualization work?

With RemoteApp, users can access virtual apps that reside in a data center or in a cloud-based VM rather than locally on their devices. The app still behaves as though it's local.

Microsoft RemoteApp delivers server-based virtual applications where the application is installed on and runs on a remote system, whether that be a server in the data center or a VM on a cloud platform.

The virtualization tool that manages the application transmits its interface pixels to the user's desktop through a protocol such as Citrix HDX or Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

A software client installed on the user's device receives the streamed pixels and renders them on the local device, just like a locally installed application. The user can move and resize the application window and carry out mouse and keyboard operations, which the software client transmits back to the remote host on which the application runs.

How to use Microsoft RemoteApp

Microsoft offers RemoteApp as part of its Remote Desktop Services (RDS), a platform for delivering virtual desktops and applications to users across the enterprise. RDS supports both session-based and VDI configurations.

IT can deliver virtual applications to users in either scenario using the Microsoft RemoteApp component. The applications run in VMs on Remote Desktop Session Host servers. Network connections are established between the servers and client computers to facilitate application delivery.

Be sure to run the applications in a test deployment before implementing them in production.

Users can launch RemoteApp programs in a variety of ways. In addition to being able to access the apps in the Start menu, users can double-click a program icon, RDP file or file with an extension that is associated with a RemoteApp program. Another option is to click a link through Remote Desktop Web Access.

Microsoft RemoteApp programs can run on any OS that supports the Remote Desktop client, including Apple macOS, Apple iOS and Google Android. Once the application launches, it behaves as though it's integrated into the device's interface.

On a Windows desktop, for example, users can resize application windows, move them around, drag them between monitors and access them from the task bar. Users can also connect to multiple RemoteApp programs while still running locally installed programs.

RemoteApp can be useful to any organization that wants to simplify application delivery without the overhead of delivering full virtual desktops. Microsoft RemoteApp can also benefit organizations supporting remote or roaming users, deploying line-of-business applications, maintaining branch offices, or running applications that cause compatibility issues.

It is not easy to virtualize all applications, however, so IT administrators should check with Microsoft to see if there are any current application restrictions and be sure to run the applications in a test deployment before implementing them in production.

This was last published in December 2018

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What do you think is the primary benefit of using RemoteApp?
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It is usefull when you want to give access only to certain application to the user instead of giving access to the whole server. In that case it is very usefull.
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While MS RemoteApp works quite well, there are annoying issues, especially popups appearing behind their parent window: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/cdf12bbc-ff78-4d6e-9e12-63f99ae4d511/w10-1709-remoteapp-popups-hidden-behind-main-window?forum=winserverTS

Still not fixed for Windows Server 2012R2, and still not quite completely fixed for Windows Server 2016, either.

Shame, really, as apart from that nasty issue, it does work quite effectively.
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