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Microsoft RemoteFX + Step by step guides

Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2 have been released in a Release Candidate, and RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory are the new players on the market. Its going to be interested seeing, how Citrix is going to implement RemoteFX with their technologies (XenDesktop, XenApp). RemoteFX will only work on a Hyper-V platform or a RDS Go get the Release candidate for Windows Server 2008R2 SP1 here and Windows 7 SP1 here if you want to test the technology.

The final version of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008R2 will be released in Q1 2011 (Marts/April). Its going to be in intriguing to see, how RemoteFX performs at that time, and how the technology is integrated in XenDesktop 5.

Microsoft RemoteFX is a new feature that is included in Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). It introduces a set of end-user experience enhancements for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) that enable a rich desktop environment within your corporate network.

What does RemoteFX do?

Microsoft® RemoteFX™ enables the delivery of a full Windows user experience to a range of client devices including rich clients, thin clients, and ultrathin clients. RemoteFX delivers a rich user experience for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) by providing a 3D virtual adapter, intelligent codecs, and the ability to redirect USB devices in virtual machines. RemoteFX is integrated with the RDP protocol, which enables shared encryption, authentication, management, and device support. RemoteFX also delivers a rich user experience for session-based desktops and RemoteApp programs to a broad range of client devices.

Who will be interested in this feature?

The following people might be interested in these changes:

  • Knowledge workers who work on the applications that are available on virtual desktops. These applications may include the following:
    • Silverlight and Flash applications
    • 3D applications built on DirectX
    • USB devices that are used on a virtual machine
    • Microsoft Office applications
    • Media player applications
    • Applications that are hosted on the Internet
    • Line-of-business applications
  • Server administrators who are responsible for managing groups of server and client virtual machines running on a Hyper-V server
  • Server administrators who are responsible for managing Remote Desktop Session Host servers
  • Client computer administrators who are responsible for managing devices that are similar to the following:
    • Thin clients that are running an embedded operating system, such as Windows Embedded
    • Legacy personal computers
    • Client computers running Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Desktop administrators who are looking at desktop virtualization as a set of technologies that enable the migration of Windows 7

Are there any special considerations?

To take advantage of RemoteFX functionality when connecting to virtual desktops, the following hardware requirements must be met:

  • A Hyper-V server that meets the hardware requirements is listed in the Windows Server Technical Library. For more information about the hardware requirements, see Hardware Considerations for RemoteFX.
  • The client computer must be running Remote Desktop Connection 7.1.

What functionality does RemoteFX provide?

The new functionality that is provided by RemoteFX is described in the following sections.

Host side rendering

Host side rendering allows graphics to be rendered on the host device instead of on the client device. This enables support for all graphics types by sending highly compressed bitmap images to the endpoint device in an adaptive manner. This also allows the applications to run at full speed on the host computer by taking advantage of the GPU and the CPU, which provides an experience that is similar to a local computer.

GPU Virtualization

GPU Virtualization is a technology that exposes a virtual graphics device to a virtual machine. RemoteFX exposes a WDDM driver with the virtual desktop, and it allows multiple virtual desktops to share a single GPU on a Hyper-V server.

Why is this important?

Enterprise customers who have consolidated their desktops on to a Hyper-V server can take advantage of this technology. GPU Virtualization in RemoteFX enables end users to run graphical applications on a virtual machine. It also enables administrators to share physical graphics devices across multiple knowledge workers with virtual machines running on a Hyper-V server.

Intelligent Screen Capture

Intelligent Screen Capture is responsible for checking screen content changes between frames and transmitting the changed bits for encoding. Intelligent Screen Capture tracks network speed and then dynamically adjusts according to the available bandwidth.

Why is this important?

Intelligent Screen Capture understands the network capability between the client and host devices with regards to rendering and compression. The virtual GPU renders the applications, and Intelligent Screen Capture understands which part of the screen has changed and then compresses and transmits those changes. If the network connection is degraded on the client device, Intelligent Screen Capture sends fewer frames across the Internet to avoid network congestion. Intelligent Screen Capture is designed to support fast networks, in which case it can send more frames to ensure a good user experience.

RemoteFX Encoder

The RemoteFX Encoder allows encoding on the processor, on the GPU, or on dedicated hardware. After the screen data is compressed, it sends the data to the virtual desktop, which transfers the bitmaps by using Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client computers.

Why is this change important?

This flexible encoding process provides high fidelity and scalability. In computers where the processors are consistently busy, the dedicated hardware ensures that the user experience is not affected.

RemoteFX Decoder

The RemoteFX Decoder decodes bitmaps that have transferred from the virtual desktop to the client computer. RemoteFX Decoder decodes the bitmaps on the client computer by using software in the GPU or processor, or by using a hardware decoder.

Why is this change important?

The RemoteFX Decoder enables low cost, easily manageable client devices. The flexibility to use the processor, GPU, or a hardware decoder helps provide a RemoteFX experience to a wide variety of client devices ranging from low complexity devices to rich clients.

RemoteFX for Remote Desktop Session Host

RemoteFX enables access to the RD Session Host server from rich clients, thin clients, and ultrathin clients. It also ensures lower bandwidth usage as compared to Windows Server 2008 R2 when transferring rich graphics applications


Q: Will RemoteFx support also OpenGL hardware acceleration which is the 3D high level API used by professional applications like CAD systems or medical applications ?

A: RemoteFX will support certain OpenGL applications. However, as the development of RemoteFX is still ongoing, it is too early to provide any specifics at this point.

Q: Are you plan to introduce RemoteFX also for Windows 7 because their are many scenarios where the remote system is not a server but a high end workstation ?

A: RemoteFX has been designed as a Windows Server capability to support the growing demand for multi-user, media-rich centralized desktop environments. Windows 7 will be supported as a virtual guest OS under Hyper-V.

Step-by-step guides:

Overview guides:


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