Is RDP Turning Back From the Grave?

Why technologies like Microsoft’s RemoteFX could be a huge win.

If you’ve ever dabbled with virtualization for the desktop (by dabble, I mean “spent thousands and thousands of dollars making it work”), then you should already know that it’s not as easy as people chalk it up to be. First off, getting the backend virtualization servers up and running is expensive and time-consuming.  Second, there are some things that just don’t do all that well in a virtualized desktop environment, including the bane of all Desktop as a Service (DaaS) vendors: graphics.

Windows administrators that use Windows Terminal Services (TS) and thin clients are well aware of this problem. With Windows TS, you get the advantages of centralized computing, but you give up some nice little perks, like being able to use Photoshop or watch YouTube. Or at least with any hope of end-user satisfaction.

But the world is a changing and Microsoft along with it.

Microsoft is pushing RemoteFX, with the hope that the new technology can help speed up the delivery of fast graphics to the virtualized desktop.

What’s so great about RemoteFX? Let’s quote one of the developers at Microsoft to find out. Max Herrmann says that RemoteFX will give users the ability to “work remotely in a Windows Aero desktop environment, watch full-motion video, enjoy Silverlight animations, and run 3D applications”. Wow.

Supposedly this will all operate at the speed of your LAN—that’s a far cry from what we are accustomed to with normal RDP.

At Puryear IT, we managed a good number of Windows servers at client sites that provide Terminal Services, and speed has always been the #1 complaint. Typically, the response is “Terminal Services is for task-oriented users, not graphical or power users”. And that’s always been the industry mantra. But technologies like RemoteFX could be a game changer.

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