RDS 2012 and Remote Control. A workaround is found…

As most of you know, when Microsoft shipped its best RDS build to date (Windows Server 2012), it had to screw up something. It is part of the Microsoft culture. Deliver something good but make sure you screw up something.

I am ok with the screwing up part but I would appreciate people telling me in advance I am going to get screwed. The only person that can indeed screw me with such short notice is my wife AFAIK.

As Microsoft does not fall into the “My Wife” category they should have told us Remote Control was going to be removed from Windows Server 2012. Nope, they did not say anything even to us the RDS MVP Gods.

So after the Remote Control fiasco I decided to find a way to get at least some sort of half ass solution for the problem Microsoft created. Thanks to a great session this week here in Seattle during the MVP Summit delivered by the Multipoint Server guys, I realized we could come up with something.

Before you attempt to reproduce what was done I must clarify a couple things

  1. I am no licensing monkey. I know nothing about how the Ghetto Remote Control (as I coined it) is supposed to be licensed. Plus I do not care.
  2. It is almost certainly unsupported and if you call Microsoft and tell you are doing that, you are on your own. And you may get in shit as well. And if you tell Microsoft you read that here on my blog make sure you understand you are going to hell.
  3. I am not supposed to be liable for your actions. Again this is a Ghetto hack and unsupported. So you break it, you fix it. Not me.

All that said, here you have what I tested and know it works. Oh if you do not know what MultiPoint Server 2012 is, Google is your friend.

What do you need:
– MultiPoint Server 2012. If you have MSDN/TechNet, it is there. I have tested with Premium but given what we are doing I would assume the regular one will do the trick. I may be wrong though.

How to do it:

  1. Ideally create a VM somewhere and give it 2vCPUs and 2GB RAM (more if you want it to work faster). Boot off the ISO you downloaded from TechNet/MSDN. It is just a regular Windows install really.
  2. Once the server is installed, go to one of your RDS Session Hosts servers and browse to \\your_multipoint_server\C$. Under Program Files\Windows Multipoint Server you should see a Connector folder.
  3. Copy the whole folder locally anywhere on the RDS Session Host box and run the WmsConnector.exe file as Administrator.
  4. Just follow the wizard that is really simple. This will install the MultiPoint Server connector on your RDS Session Host. This has to be done to all RDS Servers.
  5. Once you are done, logon to your MultiPoint Server and launch the MultiPoint Manager. You should see the following screen.

    MultiPoint Manager 2012
    MultiPoint Manager 2012
  6. On the right hand side corner you have the “Add or remove personal computers”. Click on it. On the screen that will follow you should see all the RDS servers you have where the connector was installed. If you do not see them (i.e. they are on a different subnet) simply enter the IP address where it says “Personal Computer name”  and click “Manually Add”. If you see them, well then simply click on the “Add >>” button.

  7. Once you did that with all RDS servers they should show up under “Managed Personal Computers”  as you see on the screenshot above (where you can see my server named iqb-2k12rds and with a “Connected” status.

You are done.

So now, how do I remote control users? Still on the MultiPoint server, simply launch the MultiPoint Dashboard. The following window will show up:

MultiPoint Dashboard

Right there you will see all the users connected to the RDS Session Host servers (admins are NOT shown). Simply click one of the users (you can actually see a “live” view of the session) and on the ribbon at the top click on “Take Control” (or right-click the session and select it on the menu that will appear). The user should get a message and once he approves you are now remote controlling the user.

It is worth mentioning that a chat window shows up on the user session so you can actually chat with the user. Yes, a feature from the 90s delivered to you by Microsoft 22 years later. Well better late than never.

But wait, things get better. Another cool feature is delivered with the “Project” button. You can “send” your screen to all your users what is useful during April Fool’s day. Seriously this opens up a lot of cool scenarios, especially when thinking about training.

Want to limit which sites all your RDS users can visit with one click? Yep it is there under “Web Limiting” and its “Configure” button. Add the sites you want to allow/block and click “Start”. Simple eh?

Before you bitch about this solution, let me remind you again:

  1. I am fully aware this is half-ass and it may have a cost associated with it. As I said the licensing monkeys may know what that means in dollars. I do not.
  2. I told you before this is Ghetto style IT solution a.k.a. typical half-ass IT delivered stuff.
  3. And unsupported.

Even with all the above I still think GRC (Ghetto Remote Control) is better than what Microsoft delivered with Windows Server 2012 RDS.

I will keep digging deeper to see what else I find on MultiPoint Server that we can use to make RDS 2012 better… So back to work.

CR

 

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6 Replies to “RDS 2012 and Remote Control. A workaround is found…”

    1. I mean a similar capability that at the end means being able to remote control a session running on the host. Remote Assistance is simply another workaround what actually the official answer from Microsoft to the lack of Remote Control on Windows Server 2012. If you used Windows Server 2008 R2 and previous versions you clearly understand the differences between Remote Control and Remote Assistance.

  1. So, i was able to set this up, and it work darn near perfectly! Thanks so much. Now my issue is in the remote app construct. i cant seem to get remote assistance to work when I am using a remote app, the session is visible, and the null desktop is as well, the chat windows, ect, but with the remote app I only get an error that multipoint cant connect to the session. Any ideas?

    it seems with the session being attached and viewable( project even works even though end user is attached to a remote app RDS session..). I am going to check GPO an see if unsolicited setting is the culprit but any help here would be appreciated.

  2. With Powershell it’s possible to shadowing (on Windows Server standard 2012 R2) :

    qwinsta
    $id = read-host “Choose the ID to control ”
    Mstsc /shadow:$id /control /noConsentPrompt

    1. Yep this is possible with 2012 R2. My original post was about RDS 2012, where Microsoft removed remote control/shadowing. They brought it back on 2012 R2.

      CR

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