Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

Contributor(s): Jack Madden
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Desktop virtualization market guide

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is an umbrella term for features of Microsoft Windows Server that allow users to remotely access graphical desktops and Windows applications. 

RDS components include: 

  • Remote Desktop Connection Broker: The connection broker connects users with remote desktops. If a user loses connectivity to a remote desktop, the connection broker allows the user to reestablish the connection without losing the virtual desktop's state.
  • Remote Desktop Gateway: This component allows for connectivity to virtual desktops and RemoteApp programs over the Internet.
  • Remote Desktop Licensing: This component tracks license usage for your RDS deployment.
  • Remote Desktop Session Host: The Session Host allows a server to host session-based desktops or RemoteApp programs.
  • Remote Desktop Virtualization Host: This is the component that hosts virtual desktops.
  • Remote Desktop Web Access: This component lets users access remote desktops or RemoteApp programs either through a Web browser or the Start menu.

Remote Desktop Services applications and desktops can be accessed from a variety of client devices, operating systems, and form factors, as well as HTML 5 browsers and Java clients. Users view and interact with Remote Desktop Services resources through a remote display protocol. Microsoft provides the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) with Windows, and third-party companies can also create their own protocols, examples of which are Citrix HDX and VMware PC-over-IP.

The richness of the user experience with Remote Desktop Services may be limited by network bandwidth or remote display protocol capabilities. However, there many benefits, including the centralized management of many operating system images, the ability to use inexpensive thin clients to access server-class hardware and increased security within the data center.




This was last updated in November 2011

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