Remote Desktop Services -- powerful, capable, flexible, but also costly and complicated
August 31, 2019

Remote Desktop Services -- powerful, capable, flexible, but also costly and complicated

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Remote Desktop Services

My organization uses Windows Remote Desktop Services in several ways:
  • Admin remote access to physical servers.
  • Admin access to cloud-hosted servers.
  • User access to a single desktop from multiple devices. This allows users to connect from any computer across many sites to a single desktop. With this, a physical computer becomes a workstation that is simply displaying content from a remote server.
  • User access to published RemoteApp programs. This allows users to open a program on their device, which is actually hosted on a remote server.
  • It's built into all versions of Windows, so a zero-cost client.
  • It's well established in the enterprise computing industry. Remote Desktop Services has been around for decades; it has been updated but remains familiar to users and admins.
  • You can connect from almost any device. This is especially good in environments that damage computers; a low-cost device can be used, since the local device simply presents a login screen (the desktop is on a remote server).
  • Advanced configuration is required.
  • Off-site access from a different network is very insecure unless a VPN can be used.
  • It's complicated and relatively costly for multi-user environments, as each user or device requires a CAL on top of the server licensing.
  • Incredibly complicated licensing strategy from Microsoft.
  • Positive: In production facilities with particulate debris in the air, we can use cheap basic computers with no fans, since they only need to display remote resources.
  • Positive: Users get the same desktop experience from any device or location.
  • Positive: Admins can easily access servers and other systems without any additional third-party software or licensing.
The initial setup for Remote Desktop Services is complex, and licensing is costly. Each user connects to their virtual desktop hosted by a single server or group of servers, so a change or issue with servers quickly impacts every single user at the same time.
Aside from that, users appreciate seeing their same personal desktop from any device or geographical location.
As with any Microsoft Server product, support for Remote Desktop Services requires a paid support package. These are license-based and very costly, on top of the already costly product licensing. Microsoft's licensing is complicated to begin with, so setting up licensing alone essentially requires a licensing expert's counsel.
There is community documentation and support available on Microsoft websites, as well as community websites.
All remote desktop or desktop virtualization services are quite costly and very complicated to set up. Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services has the advantage of being very available for many years, meaning practically any device can be used as a workstation. Tablets, smartphones, even Raspberry Pi devices can be used.
Remote Desktop Services has the benefit of being built into all versions of Windows for decades, so it doesn't require third-party software in most cases.
Remote Desktop Services is great for some uses, like remote access to servers for admins. For end-users, setup is complicated and costly, but the end solution is great for shared device environments or mobile users. Allowing a user to see the same desktop from any device, on-site or off-site, provides a smooth experience for them. User management is effective once configured.