TS connection experience improvements based on RDP 6.0 client customer feedback

TS connection experience improvements based on RDP 6.0 client customer feedback

Many users have downloaded the RDP 6.0 TS client through Windows update since it was released. We have received significant feedback on the RDP 6.0 client -- both on what you liked and what you disliked. In this post we want to let you know that we heard you and show you how your continued feedback helped us to improve the TS client connection experience for all of our users.

The improvements discussed in the post will be available to the public as part of the next planned TS client update. I will update this blog with a link to the new beta client download page once it is released. In the meantime, I thought I would provide an update to our TS user community that we heard your feedback, and we have made improvements in the next beta of the RDP client.

The improvements we made in the beta RDP client are discussed and organized by feedback topics. I have grouped your most common feedback into one of these seven buckets. Of course, additional comments/feedback is appreciated.

Feedback #1:  When using Remote Desktop Client 6.0 to connect to a computer running Windows 2003 Windows 2000, some users are forced to enter credentials (user name and password) twice in a row - once at the TS client, and again at TS server.

This blog post provides details on cause for these problems and possible workarounds.  To better address the problems mitigated by these workarounds, we changed the design for the next version as summarized by the following table:

Client OS with RDP 6.1

Target TS Server OS

Prompt for credentials

Windows Vista and Windows Longhorn

Windows Longhorn and Windows Vista

Always at TS client side

Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows 2000

Windows Longhorn and Windows Vista

Always at TS Server side

Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows 2000

Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows 2000

Always at TS server side

With this design change, users will not be prompted for credentials twice anymore, provided they have installed the latest RDP client.

Feedback #2:  Saved credentials (user name, password) do not work. I don't know how to edit or delete my saved credentials.

This blog post provides details on the cause of these problems and possible workarounds.  In the new beta RDP client, we have bubbled up the "save" and "edit" options to the top-level UI by showing the logon settings on the TS client UI as shown below. If you need to edit or delete the saved credentials, you can do it directly from this UI instead of clicking the "Options" button and then editing them at the TS client expanded UI.  Remember that saved credentials are per target computer name. This means whenever you select a different computer name, it will tell you which user name and credentials it is going to use for the remote connection.

Whenever you or your administrator enable group policy (GP) settings to use the currently logged on Windows credentials to provide a single sign-on experience for a given terminal server, you will see this status as shown below.

When TS client has no saved credentials for the selected target computer, it will show the appropriate status as shown below.

Feedback #3: RDP 6.0 client provides no easy way to save credentials for the target server similar to what we had in RDP 5.0 client.

In the RDP 6.0 client, we removed the option to save credentials (user name and password) in the RDP file. If you need your RDP 6.0 client to remember your logon credentials, when you connect to Windows Longhorn TS server or Windows Vista, select the "Remember my credentials" checkbox in the credential prompt UI shown below.

 

This will store the credentials in Windows credential manager. Next time, when you connect to the same TS server, your saved credentials will be used automatically, and you will not be prompted for credentials. 

 

What about storing credentials for Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server TS connections?  In the new beta RDP client, we have provided an "Allow me to save credentials" checkbox at the TS client for pre-Longhorn terminal servers. This checkbox will be visible to you only when the TS client doesn't have saved credentials for the target computer. When you select this checkbox, you will be prompted for credentials at the TS client side once, even though your target computer is Windows 2000 or 2003 server, but when you enter the credentials, it will automatically save the credentials for you at the TS client computer. Next time, when you connect to a Windows 2000 or 2003 server, your saved credentials will be used automatically.

 

To see this checkbox, you need to click on the "Options" buttons in the TS client. Here is the expanded TS client UI with the "Allow me to save credentials" checkbox.

Important note:  Whenever your saved credentials (user name and password) have expired for a target TS server running Windows 2003 or Windows 2000, the target TS server will prompt for credentials again using Winlogon UI but the TS client will not be automatically updated with your newly entered credentials. When this happens, you need to manually edit the saved credentials on the TS client. Note that this is the same behavior as when connecting to a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 Server from a pre-RDP 6.0 client.

Feedback #4:  Credentials entered in TS client get rejected when connecting to Windows Server 2003.

With the design in the new beta RDP client, you will not see this problem anymore because when you connect to Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server, TS client will not ask for credentials. Refer to Feedback #1 section for more details.

Feedback #5: When connecting to Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2000 using RDP 6.0, I am seeing a new credential UI prompt which I don't like.

If you always connect to Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2000 using the new beta RDP client, you will not see the new credential prompt anymore, and you will see the typical remote TS server logon screen (Winlogon) as it was in RDP 5.0.

 

 

But if you are connecting to Windows Vista or Windows Longhorn Server using the new beta RDP client from Windows Vista, you will see the new credential prompt at the client side as shown below.

We are showing this new credential UI prompt at the client because we want to do network level authentication for all TS connections to Windows Vista or Windows Longhorn Server. The new CredSSP (Credential Security Service Provider) used in Longhorn TS server provides benefits like RDP data stream protection, RDP port attack surface reduction, and server authentication by default.

Feedback #6:  The pre-populated user name in the credentials dialog does not match the user name that is in the RDP file.

Most users make a TS connection in one of two ways:

  • Style #1 by double-clicking a custom RDP icon published by your admin or a custom RDP file authored by you.
  • Style #2 by launching the "Remote Desktop Connection" icon in the Accessories folder on the Windows Start menu and typing in the remote computer name and user name and then clicking the "Connect" button, or by typing mstsc.exe from a command prompt. Whenever you use this style, TS client uses the default.RDP file.

 

With the RDP 5.0 client, when you use a custom RDP file, it always reads the user name from the file. It is optimized for users following connection style #1. The downside with the RDP 5.0 client is that if your connection style is #2, and you connect to five different TS servers in a day, you will be required to enter the user name again and again because it shows only the most recently used computer name and user name.

 

In RDP 6.0 client, we have optimized it for connection style #2 users but we understand that this approach breaks the "TS Remote Admin" scenario with connection style #1 where two different RDP files with two different user names are used for the same TS server, or where you want to use a custom RDP file with the user name pre-filled for you by your administrator.

 

Here is a proposed new solution to address both these cases. Whenever the TS client uses the default RDP file (this is the case for connection style #2), it will always use the user name hint from the registry. Whenever you use a custom RDP file (this is the case for connection style #1), it will read from the RDP file if it is available, or else it will read the user name hint from the registry. With this proposed solution, we think we'll be able to address both connection styles that customers use and all possible edge scenarios supported by RDP 5.0 clients. Please let us know your feedback.

Feedback #7: How to suppress the ‘Remote Desktop cannot verify the identity of the computer you want to connect to..." security warning message?

This blog post provides details on cause for this problem and possible solution. We are investigating how to make this security warning message valuable while still making it easy for customers to suppress it when it is not needed. We are considering is to provide a checkbox called "Don't ask me again for remote connections to this computer."  If the user selects this checkbox, it will be remembered and will automatically ignore this warning the next time.

 

If the user clicks on this checkbox to suppress the security warning on server authentication failure, and one year later the TS server admin has changed the server certificate or a bad TS server sends an incorrect server certificate, we will show this security warning again until user click again to suppress it. This way, it is suppressed for the same server certificate error messages only. Here is the proposed UI mockup.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 6 and 7 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • hi all

    when i log on to server have logon message box " you don't have level encryption to access this session". what problem?

  • @aiwata regarding Powerpoint performance on the terminal server: USE OPEN OFFICE. I just tested it and Impress is way more responsive (draws better) then Powerpoint. Caching IS working with Impress. Not so with Powerpoint. How is it possible that MS just uses inefficient drawing routines in Powerpoint?

  • We are desperate for a fix for the domain:s: parameter that can set in RDP files.

  • the username:s: and password 51:s: parameters were key. I need to be able to simply double click two rdp files pointing to the *SAME* machine with two *DIFFERENT* credentials *WITHOUT* prompting.

    You guys (whoever made the changes) are handicapped and stupid!

  • In our corporate environment, with hundreds of machines, I have the same id and password.  How can I get it to use the ONE credential and password for all client connections?

    It doesn't make sense (read: really annoying) for me to have to enter the same info time and time again, since the servers are all in the same domain.

    thanx in advance

  • If you are using the same credentials you are logged on to your client machine with, you can enable Single-Sign-On:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/ts/archive/2007/04/19/how-to-enable-single-sign-on-for-my-terminal-server-connections.aspx#6583933

    Thx,

    Sergey.

  • NT - nice try - I use windows XP PRO in the corporate environment and at home (when I telecommute).  Therefore, it is not possible for me to use this circuitous route to enable SSO.

    Not to mention my home account name is not the same as my corporate account name.

    Why do you have to over-engineer the solution?

    Being a software developer since the beginning of PCs, it is very easy for me to imagine a SSO checkbox embedded within MSTSC so it only accesses one set of credentials for all connections, as opposed to the current solution of tracking each connection and credential together.

    How simple is it to store only one set of credentials to be used for all connections?  It's actually far simpler than tracking credentials separately, encoded in a .rdp file.

    [sigh]

    K.I.S.S.

  • Yes, it is very simple, but not very secure. If TS client can send your credentials anywhere, any other piece of software running in your session (including malware) can do the same.

  • If my machine and userid and password are compromised in such a manner, why would allowing per server credential logins be more secure than a single credential?

    I don't see your logic/assertion as being correct.

    assumption:

    1) All RDP connections work because they have cached credentials

    2) All corporate environments will require the same set of credentials to log into a server in the same domain

    (so why be forced to act like there are different credentials??)

    QED:

    1) Therefore any malware could access any RDP connection regardless of how many credentials are cached (1 or multiple).

    2) If my system is compromised, by human hands or malware, I have much more of a concern.

    3) All credentials are encrypted and secure, so malware cannot access 1 or 2 or more passwords, whether they be stored singly or muliply (as the same credentials).

    On the surface, one might take your statement as fact, but I can't see how it is little more than an introduction to a thought, rather than the conclusion of a series of thoughts.

  • Upon reading, rereading and re-re-reading your statement, I think you are implying that some, as of yet to be developed, unknown, contrived scenario malware would be able to, unbeknownst to me (the TS victim) create an RDP connection to some unknown location and send such credentials to said unknown location.

    Do you have personal knowledge that such malware is possible, or is just the suggestion of such a possibility enough to make it real?

    Are you stating the Windows is that insecure that I shouldn't be using TS because it's possible to create such malware?

    I think I should stop using a hard drive, too, cause some malware could delete my file system...

    [sigh]

  • Malware cannot delete your file system if you are not logged on as Administrator.

    Malware cannot read domain credentials stored in Credential Manager (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa923650.aspx).

    But, malware can read credentials stored in RDP files, or credentials stored in Credential Manager in generic format.

    TS Client sends user credentials to the server it connects to. It is the only way to create an interactive session. On Vista to Vista connections TS Client uses CredSSP for this purpose (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb931352.aspx). CredSSP (as any other SSP) has a component running as SYSTEM, that reads user credentials from Credential Manager and sends them to the server. CredSSP has a policy that controls to which servers it can and to which it cannot send credentials (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb204773.aspx).

    So, when connecting from Vista to Vista, it is possible to protect your saved credentials from malware. (We are also planning to ship CredSSP with XP SP3).

    However, if you allow your credentials to be sent to any server, they are not safe.

  • ok, so, the vulnerability already exists.

    since i work in a corporate environment, my login is the same for every remote server i access.

    therefore, malware, currently, could read anyone of those credentials and then use it to do something; not sure what yet, but something.

    i just don't understand the hair's being split here.  

    i see no effective difference inherent in security of one vs. multiple entries when dealing with a corporate environment, where one domain credential accesses servers in that domain (where granted access, of course).

    instead, it seems you, who work in a corporate environment, want to completely ignore addressing the corporate environment.

    CredSSP for xp will be nice.

    I can tell you our corporation, very large, will not be switching to Vista any time soon.  I would assume this to be conservatively applicable across-the-board for many large corporations, therefore it would be nice to address a large percentage of your product market.

    thank you.

  • I AGREE WITH IT:

    the username:s: and password 51:s: parameters were key. I need to be able to simply double click two rdp files pointing to the *SAME* machine with two *DIFFERENT* credentials *WITHOUT* prompting.

    You guys (whoever made the changes) are handicapped and stupid!

  • interesting tool:

    Autordp [<Connection File>] [/v:<server[:port]>] [/u:<user>] [/p:<Password>] [/console]

    http://www.abinsight.com/tools/rdp_autologon.asp

  • SIX FREE RDP ALTERNATIVES:

    "In this post I am comparing six Remote Desktop clients in a feature table: RD Tabs 2.0.8, mRemote 0.0.8.0, RoayalTS 1.3.2, vissionapp Remote Desktop v1.5 (vRD), Terminals 1.6, and Remote Desktop Manager 3.0.0.1 (RD Manager)."

    http://4sysops.com/archives/comparison-of-six-free-rdp-client-tools/

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