Announcing the Remote Desktop Protocol Performance Improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 white paper

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With the growing trend toward desktop virtualization, it is Microsoft’s goal to provide enterprises with a flexible model for centralized computing, whereby the broadest range of client devices can help securely access company data and applications from any location on the network.

As with Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2, virtual machine-based desktop virtualization faces increasing performance challenges when enterprises attempt to use this technology to support a globally distributed workforce. A key consideration of performance relates to Remote Desktop protocol efficiency which continues to present an issue for bandwidth constrained environments. This limitation can manifest itself by limiting the number of users who can access virtualized desktops (user density) over available bandwidth, and with a degraded user experience. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) 7.0, similar to previous RDP versions, provides a competitive experience for low bandwidth (e.g. 56 Kbps) connections. After bandwidth requirements, network latency is the second fundamental challenge for customers and partners that wish to deploy virtualized desktops for a broad range of end-users and applications.

With the release of the Windows Server® 2008 R2 and Windows® 7 operating systems, RDP 7.0 is even more feature-rich than its predecessors—enabling new remoting functionality such as accelerated bitmap rendering, multi-media redirection streaming, and network topology awareness. In short, RDP 7.0 is better able to support today’s ever increasingly complex and rich multi-media environment.

To improve the user experience when connecting over high latency networks, RDP 7.0 added “client hint” functionality. “Client hint” can be enabled by using the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 7.0 client UI to set the connection speed on the Experience tab.



The same setting can be configured via .rdp files by selecting WAN (10 Mbps or higher with high latency) or Satellite (2 Mbps–16 Mbps with high latency) with connection type:i:5 or connection type:i:3 respectively.

As these features become integrated into the enterprise environment, it is important to analyze and understand their impact on enterprises’ current network infrastructure and end-user experience. The Remote Desktop Protocol Performance Improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 white paper details RDP features and the potential for improvements to usability and the quality of the end-user remoting experience, as well as system deployment metrics.

Note: You should not interpret the performance characteristics presented in the white paper as benchmark measurements that all systems can support. Only empirical testing on the target system can provide an accurate benchmark of your specific scenario.

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  • For me, there's one major feature missing from RD that most competing products seem to have and that's the ability for more than one person to log in ay once. Sometimes it's really useful for someone locally to view what is being done remotely. My 2 cents ;-)

  • If that's what you want to do, you can shadow the user's remote desktop session using either the shadow.exe cmd line utility, or tsadmin.exe (Terminal Services Manager). To initiate shadowing of a Terminal Services session, the two methods I mentioned must be performed from a Terminal Services Session.  You can use Group Policy to control whether or not the user gets notified of your shadowing.  This has existed since XP Pro & 2003 Server, but is rarely used except on the server platforms with Terminal Services.  This is NOT Remote Assistance, but provides similar functionality, for example view and optionally interact with a user's session.

  • It's true that RDP 7 does provide improved user experience and performance compared to previous versions of RDP. However, it's possible to improve video and graphics performance even further (by about 2-5 times better than RDP 7 alone) with a solution called Ericom Blaze.

    Ericom Blaze is a software-based RDP acceleration AND compression product that provides a superior end-user experience over WAN and congested LANs. Besides delivering higher frame rates and reducing screen freezes and choppiness, Ericom Blaze accelerates RDP 7 performance by up to 2-5 times (and up to 10-25 times for earlier versions of RDP), while significantly reducing network bandwidth consumption over low-bandwidth/high latency connections.

    Also, don't forget that to get the benefit of RDP 7 you need to upgrade all your hosts to Windows Server 2008 R2. If you are not ready to do that, and still want performance improvements in RDP, you can still use Blaze.

    You can read more about Blaze and download a free evaluation at:

    Or view a video demo at:


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Announcing the Remote Desktop Protocol Performance Improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 white paper