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 3 and 8 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Thank you so much for this, this is amazing. Is this in 7RC 7100? Please include this in Live Mesh.

  • Is Aero going to be supported with MultiMonitors under the RTM of Win7?

  • John: Aero is not supported with true RDP multimon for Win7. If you specify both desktop composition and multimon for a Remote Desktop connection, then multimon takes precedence and you will not get desktop composition.

    -Elton [MSFT]

  • I think this will make quite a few people annoyed. Surely there are plans for Aero support across multiple monitors?

  • John: Making true RDP multimon and desktop composition work together is definitely something we are looking into supporting in the future.

  • My clients are in the financial industry and plenty of them have 8x24" or 2x30" monitors, so there resolution is well above the default 4096 x 2048 max default.  Is there any way to override that so their RemoteApp or RDP can fill the entire view?

    (Note: their applications use enough resources that we usually keep a 1:1 ratio of remote sessions to TS servers)

  • "Is this in 7RC 7100?"

    Multiple monitor support has been in since the Beta release 7000.  It is in 7100 as well.

    --Casey [MSFT]

  • Hi John,

    With the Windows 7 multimon feature, each monitor has a limit of 4096x2048 *per monitor*.  This means that even the 30" setup, which has 2560x1600 per monitor will work just fine (up to 16 monitors).

    The limitation you are referring to was common to the WS2008 feature "span mode," which actually makes a single monitor on the server side with the union of the resolution of the client monitors.  In your example above, span would create one monitor on the server with resolution 2560*2x1600 = 5120x1600, going beyond the single monitor limit.  However, with WS2008 R2 multimon it will create two monitors on the server each with 2560x1600 resolution, with each monitor being below the limit.

    To be clear, this will remove the same limitations for RemoteApp, since in WS2008 R2 and the Win7 client multimon is being used in the backend in place of span in WS2008/Vista.

  • Are all monitors running in the same RDP session?

    What changes were done in the protocol, is there anything online yet?

  • Casey,

    That is outstanding news!  I can't wait for R2 :)

    Thank you, -JB

  • I'd like to see support at the client side for setting max monitors.  I have four monitors, and want to be able to use *2* of the four for one RDP session (and keep my other two for apps running locally).  The current client implementation seems to only allow one or all.  It appears from the post that this max monitor setting can be set at the server.  I'm building a 7201 server right now just to test that feature.  :)  But ideally, I'd like to be able to say mstsc /v:MYCOMPUTER /multimonitor 2.  I'll file that on Connect as well.  :)

  • What RDP protocol changes were made for this change? Have these changes been made public, and in which of the MS-RDP* MCPP documents?

  • What RDP protocol changes were made for this change? Have these changes been made public, and in which of the MS-RDP* MCPP documents?

  • To get those RDP7 new feature(Aero effect, Client rendering, multimoniotr support etc.), will RDP client make any connection.As of now, RDP client makes only 1 connection to 3389 port.

  • Gumnam,

    The protocol changes for multiple monitors are documented in MS-RDPBCGR. For example, the new Monitor Layout PDU is documented at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd341197(PROT.10).aspx

    -Eric

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