Windows Server 2003 and Terminal Services

Windows Server 2003 and Terminal Services

Terminal Services is available for all members of the latest Windows server family and can be activated at any time. It can be accessed on the Web Server only in remote desktop mode, so it is not a terminal server in the usual sense. The terminal server component provides the graphical user interface to a remote device via the LAN or an Internet connection.

The Different Terminal Server Modes

In Windows Server 2003, Terminal Services is available in two varieties: application server mode, which must be installed as a component, or remote desktop mode, which is used for remote administration of the server and requires special permissions to access.

Figure 1-5: Ability to activate remote desktop connections via My Computer | Properties | Remote.

Application Server

A terminal server running in application server mode is an efficient and reliable way to furnish Windows-based applications on a network. This terminal server represents a central installation point for applications that are accessed simultaneously by several users from their respective clients.


If applications are already installed on Windows Server 2003 and Terminal Services is later activated in application server mode, some of the applications might not work properly. A multiple-user environment has special configuration requirements. These requirements are described in Chapter 5.

Terminal servers in application server mode also allow Windows-based applications to run on clients that are not running the Windows operating system. However, additional third-party (for example, Citrix) products must be used to realize this option.


The central topic of this book is operating a terminal server in the application server mode.

Remote Desktop

The remote administration mode was first introduced under Windows 2000 Terminal Services. Under Windows Server 2003, this mode was renamed remote desktop due to its relation to Windows XP. It was developed mainly to allow remote access to a server running on Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003. This enables the administrator to access all graphical user interfaces across the network, including all their administrative tools for installed Microsoft BackOffice applications or other server applications.

A server’s performance or BackOffice application compatibility should not be compromised by remote administration. Therefore, remote desktop mode should use only a minimum of memory and processor resources. This allows for a maximum of two remote administrator sessions per console session. These administrators do not need special licenses.

Some programs require a direct logon to the console for administrative tasks. Under Windows 2000, it was not possible to invoke the console remotely via Terminal Services. Windows Server 2003 allows you to run a console remotely by using the /console parameter. Installing Microsoft Office 2000 in a “normal” session may cause MSI error 2577, whereas installation via a console session runs smoothly.


Consoles are input and output devices physically connected to the server hardware with Windows Server 2003 installed that has Terminal Services activated.

Required Components

Terminal Services and its two modes represent a high-performance approach to reducing operating costs and administration of a Windows environment. Thin clients connected over the network are the main factor. A multiple-user environment, therefore, consists of the following three groups of components:

  • Terminal server Windows Server 2003 with Terminal Services installed that permits simultaneous user sessions. Standard applications can be used in each session.

  • Communications protocol A key component is the protocol enabling remote clients to access the terminal server. The standard protocol is RDP (remote desktop protocol).

  • Access software on a client Software on a thin client, a Web browser, or a standard PC that enables access to a terminal server over the network. Client hardware and software display the user interface (desktop) and allows input by keyboard and mouse.

This book introduces and describes in detail all three groups of components.