by November 2, 2007 0 comments

In the September ’07 issue we promised to do a series on the upcoming Windows
Server 2008, code named Longhorn, and take you through a new feature every month
after we’ve actually worked on it. That time has finally come, and this month,
we’re starting with ‘not’ one, but two exciting new features in Windows Server

The feature we’re going to cover in this article is remote application
streaming. However, before we get into this feature, there’s some good news: MS
has released Windows Server 2008 RC0 this month. With this release, the
long-awaited first public beta of Microsoft’s Hypervisor is also out.
So in a separate article, we’re going to tell you all about the new Hypervisor.

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Remote App Streaming
Application Streaming, is not new, but it’s not too old either. Citrix
Presentation Server provides the same on Windows Platform. But that is a third
party software, which you need to purchase separately.

Windows Server 2008 has the application streaming feature built in. Before we
go further and see how to install and use it, let’s first understand what is
Remote App Streaming.

Streaming refers to accessing data or files before it has completely
downloaded or landed on your local machine. The common term which most of us are
familiar with is media (music and video) streaming. Here you listen or watch a
media file without having the file locally on your machine.

Similarly, when we say application streaming, we mean running a file or an
app without installing or having it on your local machine. The app resides on a
server and executes utilizing the resources of server. All you’re accessing is
the display of that app on your terminal.

The benefits of application streaming are plenty. You can have a single copy
of app and stream it across to hundreds of users. The users on the other hand
can access the app from anywhere using any machine. The mgmt becomes easier as
the admin has to manage, update, and secure a single copy of the app residing on
the server.

Another good thing about such a method of app delivery is that it uses
resources of the server and you don’t have to upgrade all nodes or desktops in
case you are upgrading one app whose system requirements do not meet the
requirement of the desktops.

From this Window you can select
as many installed apps as you want to stream over Terminal Services

There aren’t too many pre-requisites to test App Streaming. A machine with
decent processing capability and a good amount of RAM is sufficient. We
installed it on a Core 2 Duo Extreme 3.0 machine with 2 GB RAM. The machine
should be connected over the network so that a node can connect to it and access
the streamed app. We used a standard 100 Mbps network for this. The version of
Windows Server 2008 used was the latest RC0 release. It is available for
download from Microsoft’s website.

The client can be any machine running on Windows XP, 2000, 2003, Vista, or
Longhorn Server. But the only prerequisite is that it should have Remote Desktop
Client version 6.0 installed. Longhorn and Vista come preloaded with RDC 6.0 but
for WinXP, Win2000, and Win 2003, you have to download and install it from com/kb/925876.

This is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is add the Terminal
Server Role to your Windows Server 2008 and install the Remote App
functionality. To do so, first open the Server Manager Console from
Administrative Tools and click on the Roles option at the left pane of the
window. Now from the main window click on the ‘Add Roles’ link. It will open up
a wizard. Click on ‘Next’ once and it will show you all the possible 17/18 Roles
available with Windows Server 2008. Check the ‘Terminal Services’ role and
continue the wizard.

After clicking a few more ‘Next’ buttons you will land to a screen where you
will be asked to select a ‘Role Service’ for the terminal service role. Select
on ‘Terminal Services.’ Now again continue with the wizard till you are asked to
specify an authentication method for your Terminal Services. If it is for a test
setup (which most likely will be the case) select the second option which says
‘Do not require Network Level Authentication.’ Now continue pressing Next till
you get a summary page which asks you to confer and start the installation.
Click on the Install button and let it finish. With this believe it or not your
App Streaming Server setup is done.

On the window, first click on
the application listed at the bottom and then click on the .rdp file to
create a rdp shortcut for connecting the application

Streaming an Application
As your Streaming server is installed, now share an app for streaming. We
tried it out with two apps. One was the good old WordPad and the other Adobe
Photoshop 7, both worked flawlessly.

Adding a new app for streaming is also a very simple process. All you have to
do is first install the app (which you want to stream) on the server. Then go to
Administrative Tools>Terminal Services and start the ‘TS RemoteApp Manager’
console. Click on the ‘Add RemoteApp Program’ link. A wizard opens up, click on
Next on the first page and it will list down all the installed apps on the
server. Select all the apps you want to stream and click Next. Two more clicks
and the wizard finishes.

Now, at the bottom of the ‘RemoteApp Manager’ console a new table appears.
Here you will see all the apps selected for streaming. Click on them one by one.
A new list appears at the right end of console. Here you will notice two links
‘Creat .rdp file’ and ‘Create Windows Installer Package.’ Clicking on any of
these starts the wizard. Depending on the link you have clicked, at the end of
the wizard an .msi or an .rdp file get generated. Now you can copy these files
to any client machine. Here the .rdp file is a direct shortcut to connect to the
Streamed app whereas .msi file is an installer which installs the .rdp file to
the program files of the client machine. The benefit of the .msi file is that
you can do a remote deployment of the .rdp file to all the machines at a go.

Once done, click on .rdp file. It first asks for authentication and then
connects and opens the streamed app from any machine on the network running on
any Windows OS and terminal server client 6.0. When the app starts, it’s very
difficult to explore if it’s running locally or from any remote machine.

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