Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

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Introduction:

Multiple monitor support for Remote Desktop Services allows users to open a Remote Desktop connection expanded across all the monitors on the client computer regardless of the client monitor configuration. With this feature, the user can fully utilize all the monitors connected to the client computer for the Remote Desktop connection thereby providing extra desktop space and an almost seamless experience with the client desktop that is much improved over “Span mode”.

This feature will be part of Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 release and works for connections to another client machine (physical or VM), or a Remote Desktop Session Host.

How to use Remote Desktop Multimon feature:

To use this feature, you must:

  1. Connect using the Remote Desktop Client 7.0 (mstsc.exe) available initially on Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2.
  2. Enable Multimon using one of the three methods described below:
    a. Click “Use all monitors for the remote session” in the client (mstsc.exe) window.
    b. Use the “/multimon” switch on the mstsc.exe command line.
    c. Add “Use Multimon:i:1” to the RDP file.
    image 
  3. Connect to a computer running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

How does it look?

Currently this feature displays the remote desktop on all the monitors available on the client computer. It can handle any client monitor configuration supported by Windows.

The following images show the Remote Desktop Multimon feature in various configurations:

image

Display Settings UI inside a Remote Desktop session showing multiple monitors

image

Remote Desktop Multimon Session with 5 monitors

image

PowerPoint inside Remote Desktop session showing multiple monitors

How is this different from “Span” mode?

Span mode, introduced in Vista, allows the remote desktop to span across all monitors on the client as long as the monitors are arranged to form a rectangle. The remote session created when using span mode is still a single-monitor session. With multimon support, each monitor on the client machine is viewed as a distinct monitor in the remote session. Due to this fundamental difference, span mode has some restrictions that true multimon does not:

1. The primary monitor must be leftmost.

2. The set of monitors must form a rectangle (i.e. identical vertical resolution, and lined up in exact straight line).

3. The total of the resolutions must be below 4096x2048 (ex. 1600x1200+1600x1200 = 3200x1200).

For these reasons, all monitor configurations shown below are valid for Remote Desktop multimon, whereas most of them are not valid for span mode:

SpanConfigs

With true multimon support, the client-side monitors can be arranged in any order and can be of any resolution.

Since a span mode remote session is essentially a single-monitor session, if a window in the remote desktop is maximized, it spans across all the monitors. With true multimon support, a window will only maximize to the extent of the containing monitor.

If an application queries for the number of monitors inside a span-mode session, it will find only one monitor, whereas it will find as many monitors as are actually present on the client system when using true multimon RDP. This difference can change the behavior of applications such as PowerPoint.

Remote Desktop Multimon configuration properties:

There are a few settings associated with the Remote Desktop Multimon feature that can be used to restrict the number of monitors and resolution that clients use to connect.

Restricting the maximum number of monitors:

The Remote Desktop Multimon feature provides an option to restrict the number of monitors a user can use to connect. By default, RDP protocol supports a maximum of 16 monitors. This number can be restricted to any value between 1 and 16 using one of the following three approaches:

  1. Using the “Limit maximum number of monitors per session” setting in the Remote Desktop Configuration Tool (tsconfig.msc) as shown below:
    image
  2. Setting the “Limit maximum number of monitors” machine group policy as shown below:
    image 
  3. By setting the MaxMonitors property in the Win32_TSClientSetting WMI class (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa383778(VS.85).aspx).

Restricting the maximum resolution of each monitor:

By default, RDP restricts the maximum resolution to 4096 X 2048 per monitor. Additionally with multimon, the width and height of each remote monitor can also be restricted in one of two ways:

  1. Setting the “Limit maximum display resolution” machine group policy as shown below:
    image 
  2. By setting the MaxXResolution and MaxYResolution properties in the Win32_TSClientSetting WMI class (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa383778(VS.85).aspx).

Please note that the policies and WMI settings described above apply only to connections with multiple monitors and not when connecting with a single monitor.

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 6 and 8 and type the answer here:
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  • The client works flawlessly in XP 64 also.

  • And what about bandwidt, this consumes a lot I Guess. Any way to calculate adiconal bandwith per monitor ?

    Of course this is amazing !!!

    Jr.

  • Hi Robert,

    You shouldn't see any more data usage for multiple monitors than you would for a single monitor of similar resolution.  It all depends on the scenario, and how much of the screen is changing at any given time.  The actual multimon feature does not add any significant bandwidth overhead, but if you have twice as many pixels which need to get updated, you will see a bandwidth increase.

    For a simple example, if you need to draw a desktop background on a two monitor XGA setup, you'd need to update:

    1024*768*2=1.6 megapixels

    For a single UXGA monitor, you'd need to update:

    1600*1200=1.9 megapixels

    So really, the overall size and rate of the screen change is the most important indicator of the amount of bandwidth used, not necesarily multimon.  However, it should be noted that now users can create sessions with overall screen sizes larger than the previous limit of 4096x2048, which can be mitigated by using the new multimon GPs.

  • I've been using this for some time and I love it. I have a suggestion though for Win 8: could you make this "multimon" option available at runtime while connected?

    My problem is that I would often need to switch from single to multi and back on a connection, and disconnecting and reconnecting everytime, even with jumplists, is tiresome.

    Let me give you an example of real life usage: I work dual monitor on a development machine, then suddenly I get a chat request on the real machine - I want to keep working but keep the chat window visible, so I typically switch to a single monitor remote at that point. Then when chat is over, I switch back to dual monitor. I do this a lot now by disconnecting and reconnecting from the jump list, but again, it's tiresome.

  • My users are going to love this...however, I'm not sure they can have it.

    Our solution requires embedding the ocx into an exe; the users run that exe for RDP and other functionality.

    How can we work with the ocx client to support multiple monitors?

  • Windows 7 Ultimate Only?

    Been looking at the Windows 7 RTM bits and the only way I can get the multiple-monitors feature to work is if I connect TO a Win7 Ultimate install.  Connecting TO a Win7 Pro does NOT give me all my monitors.

    Has anyone else run into this?  I have not seen this described anywhere yet.  Am I missing an option?

    Setup:

    - Win7 Pro or Ultimate client

    - RDP connecting to Win7 Pro - Does not work

    - RDP connecting to Win7 Ultimate - Works fine

    Thanks

    -Andrew

    - Also, I'd love to see the option for only using specified monitors for the rdp window - we have several workstations that need to connect to several remote clients and would like to specify which monitors to use.

  • Andrew, I have the same issue.

    When I connect to my Win 7 Ultimate (RC) I get all the monitors. But, when I connect to my Win 7 Pro (Final) I only get one monitor.

    I checked the values in the Limit maximum number of monitors in gpedit.msc, but no luck.

    Can't seem to find a lot of info about this yet though.

    Any thoughts?

  • same problem here.  I cant use all client monitors connecting from Win7 Pro to Win7 Pro.

    I never tried when I had ultimate installed...

  • This feature is supported only on the following SKUs:

    Windows 7:

    Enterprise

    Ultimate

    Windows Server 2008 R2:

    Server Standard

    Server Enterprise

    Server Datacenter

    Thanks!

  • What I'd like to understand is whether there is a way to do dual monitor emulation.  What I would like to do is have a dual monitor setup on the host, and match the resolution and monitor count on the client such that when I start up the client I will see exactly the layout that I had when I left the host, and when I exit the client and go back to the host, the layout will look exactly the same on the host as it did from the client when I ended the remote session.  Is that possible?   I don't have W7 yet, but if upgrading to 7 was necessary to be able to do something like this, I would strongly consider upgrading.  

  • "This feature is supported only on the following SKUs:

    "Windows 7:

    "Enterprise

    "Ultimate"

    Not according to Microsoft's own FAQ:

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Remote-Desktop-Connection-frequently-asked-questions

    See the answer to the fifth question, and note that at the top of the page it says "Applies to all editions of Windows 7."

    So, maybe someone should let MS's marketing in on this little secret, before more people buy the wrong version based on MS's own misinformation, like I did. You think?

  • I new licenses for our office on the way thinking that Pro supports multimon... a bit ridiculous since the site Robert pointed out clearly states that it should.

  • Regarding the true multimon support when connecting to a Windows 7 host, I have been able to confirm that it works with a fresh install Windows 7 Ultimate but not with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional.

    However, considering that the Microsoft Action Pack includes 10 licenses for Windows 7 Professional and only one license for Windows 7 Ultimate I fail to see the reason for this difference in these two editions.

    Additionally, searching the web I have only found user comments regarding this difference, while the more or less official announcements and reviews that I have found so far generally state that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 support this new feature.

    Is there any chance that Windows 7 Professional merely requires some editing in the registry to enable this feature (similar to enabling NLA in Windows XP SP3)?

  • I've set up two systems with two monitors each runing Win7Pro. When I used remote desktop to connect to the other system, I get a copy of all of the remote windows on my primary monitor. I can then move the various windows to the second monitor and end up with something similar to what I was connecting to. When I disconnect, the windows on the remote system are restored to their original size and location.

    When I tried the same test with Ultimate I get the same results. Am I missing something?

  • Well it's nice to know microsoft was paying attention... They changed the website so that now it says only ultimate and enterprise support multimon.  Rather then following through with what their website stated.  They just changed their website leaving everyone that previously looked at their website to get product details wondering where the hell their multimon support is.

    This is frustrating.  It makes or breaks some peoples purchase decisions and here we have Microsoft changing their website without an explanation.

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