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Microsoft Remote Desktop Services OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is the #2 ranked solution in our list of top Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) tools. It is most often compared to TeamViewer: Microsoft Remote Desktop Services vs TeamViewer

What is Microsoft Remote Desktop Services?
Remote Desktop Services is a server role in Windows Server that provides technologies that enable users to access session-based desktops, virtual machine-based desktops, or applications in the data center from both within a corporate network and from the Internet. Remote Desktop Services enables a rich-fidelity desktop or application experience, and helps to securely connect remote users from managed or unmanaged devices.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is also known as Remote Desktop Services, MS Remote Desktop Services.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Customers
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Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft Remote Desktop Services pricing:
  • "It will probably cost about $500 USD to get the resources set up in the cloud."
  • "The solution has a perpetual license and it is purchased upfront."
  • "The pricing could always be improved."
  • "Its licensing is on a yearly basis. We're on the educational or academic license, and our terms are good. We're very happy with the pricing."

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Software Reviews

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RK
Product Owner IT Services at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
It's predictable but they need to develop better support for remote desktops for alternative platforms

Pros and Cons

  • "I like that it works. In most cases, it's predictable. You know what you get."
  • "Microsoft still has some really bad remote desktop appliance for Mac."

What is our primary use case?

We use Remote Desktop Services for a few things. My experience started with Microsoft Remote Desktop when I tried to reuse really low power desktop machines to turn them from these desktop machines into class remote desktop terminals. That is my initial experience with Microsoft Remote Desktop. My most current experience with Microsoft Remote Desktop is using a specific Microsoft product on the servers where you don't have any chance to administer them using the web browser. SCCM, active directory administration and other Wintel server roles are most handy and the most secure to administer from the Microsoft Management Console. Therefore, you need to do it at least from some instance of the Microsoft windows server.

What is most valuable?

I like that it works. In most cases, it's predictable. You know what you get.

What needs improvement?

Microsoft still has some really bad remote desktop appliances for Mac. This is really frustrating because if I'm on windows I can remove the Microsoft remote desktop applied for Windows, but I'm already using windows, I always have an option B. I can still plug directly with Microsoft management console from the windows station and still do something remotely. But on a Mac, I have to rely purely on the Microsoft Remote Desktop. 

If I need to pass second-factor authentication, not a one-time password thing, if I do a Microsoft remote desktop session, I have to reach the first server, which is my best one. From that server, you're actually going inside your protective network. Then on the second spot, you are not able to pass a YubiKey and go any farther. That creates the problem. We have had many support tickets.

For how long have I used the solution?

With this new company, I have been using this solution for two and a half years, but overall I have 15 years of experience.

It is being used mainly on a Mac platform.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would say it's stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In the last setup, we had 3,000 users. It wasn't the nicest experience.

How are customer service and technical support?

My experience with support is varied. It really depends. It varies depending on which support line you get. If you say you're a particular engineer then they won't really bother to support you. But if you say you have an enterprise contract and that you're a big company and you have a contract then they offer better support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used Citrix. Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is a more developed version of Citrix.

I would recommend going for VMware.

How was the initial setup?

Microsoft programs are never easy to install but the installation wasn't something we didn't expect.

What about the implementation team?

We deployed it on our own.

We use enterprise orchestration so it doesn't take too long to deploy. Microsoft products do not really play along with the open-source orchestration platforms. Once you overcome this, it becomes easier.

What other advice do I have?

I would not recommend going with this solution because I wouldn't recommend going for a big enterprise setup. 

I would rate it a four out of ten. 

In the next release, they should develop better support for remote desktops for alternative platforms. It's really lacking consistency. If I have to support terminal server clusters and I have to do change management on the big cluster, then I actually run into a lot of issues both on the Microsoft Remote Desktop as well as Citrix. They should provide a consistent user experience. It's a pain to roll out changes into a different mode of the cluster and to propagate them over multiple modes. I end up in a situation where a portion of my users get the changes and the other portion doesn't.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SP
Information Systems Consultant at a aerospace/defense firm with 201-500 employees
Consultant
Reliable, easy to use, and easy to integrate with a security framework

Pros and Cons

  • "It's almost an out of the box function once you have installed the other components."
  • "In the next release, I would like to see better performance over slower networks, and integration with Linux, but this is something that we're going to get out of Microsoft in terms of a unified solution."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is to improve mobility and to access current sessions from different locations.

What is most valuable?

Reliability is a key feature for us.

The ease of use, as well as ease of integration within our security framework, are valuable.

What needs improvement?

We need to extend over a potentially slower network, and we have heard that performance over slower networks is not as good. I understand that there are other products out there that work better over slower networks.

In the next release, I would like to see better performance over slower networks, and integration with Linux, but this is something that we're going to get out of Microsoft in terms of a unified solution. It rolls out to bigger issues and access management with being unified with Microsoft and Linux.

This hasn't quite come together, I would have to get other products outside of Windows to get this to work.

The unified solution may be a cross-platform solution, which would be great in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for six years.

We are running a remote desktop from our workstations, not from our servers, and we are running an old Windows 7 version that is just about to be retired.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable, I am not aware of any outstanding issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of how we use it in our environment, it's not an issue for us, this solution is scalable.

We have approximately 50 users, who are mostly consultants. We are a small consultancy organization, and we are mostly IT.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not contacted technical support directly and I know the team doesn't have any issues with this. Usually, we get a reasonably good turn around time. Not against remote desktop, I don't believe that we have had support for that.

In general with Microsoft, it's been good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously we experimented with other products, but for the moment we are staying with Microsoft remote desktops.

There are other products that we are looking for. At the moment we have four different platforms, and maybe having a unified solution might be the key reason to change in the future. We need a cross-platform solution. We have to have remote access, for example, on Linux Solutions as well, and we don't want to be running on different clients.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

It's almost an out-of-the-box function once you have installed the other components.

Once you have set up your workstations and your servers, it's not a big deal to switch on and enable and integrate with Active Directory or remote logins. 

In terms of testing, it took half a day to a day's work to ensure that it was working.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented this solution with our in-house team.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Retrospectively, no, we selected Microsoft and used it.

We are doing some research at the moment to see what we will do in the future for our next generation of infrastructure and renewal.

What other advice do I have?

It's a good solution, and especially if you already have Microsoft running then it's probably one of the better solutions to choose from.

I am not sure whether it's the best future cross-platform solution when we are running multiple workstation environments with different platforms.

I am really happy with Microsoft Remote Desktop Services in our current environment. We have no issues at the moment.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
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BH
Microsoft UC Solutions Manager at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good remote application access that can be allowed on a per-user or per-group basis

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the remote application access."
  • "There are problems with using Microsoft Teams within a virtual desktop on a mobile device."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution integrator and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is one of the products that we have been implementing for our clients. This software provides a Windows 10 desktop on a virtual machine.

It's a multi-session VDI solution that allows people to work from home. It allows users to access company resources and applications, which is important because we don't want them using their personal home networks to access corporate devices. This helps prevent problems such as the introduction of a computer virus from home to office.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the remote application access. You can update applications and assign them to different groups of users. For example, one user might require Microsoft Visio, whereas another user does not require it. Access can be granted by segmenting users into different groups.

What needs improvement?

There are problems with using Microsoft Teams within a virtual desktop on a mobile device. Specifically, if you are using Teams and conferencing, then there is no microphone capability. To be clear, if you install Teams directly on your mobile device then it will work. However, if you use it as an application within the virtual desktop that is running on the mobile device, it does not work. This is something that needs to be fixed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with RDS for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Generally, this solution is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability-wise, it is very good. There is auto-scaling, so if there are more users required then Azure will help you to automatically manage it. In addition, it is HA, so I think that the overall scalability is pretty good.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not been in contact with technical support. There is a good community of people who write about Microsoft solutions in blogs, which is helpful.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up the basic service is quite simple. It's more of managing your Windows image, such as a Windows 10 image, which probably requires some expertise. It is very fast to deploy and you can have everything ready within a day.

What about the implementation team?

The setup is quite clear and you don't need a team to do it. All of the instructions are available on the internet and because it's a Microsoft solution, there are many blogs available with the steps for you to follow.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It will probably cost about $500 USD to get the resources set up in the cloud.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody who is implementing this solution is to first ensure that the network is set up properly. The applications need to be set up properly because if the applications are being used on-premises, but the virtual machines are stored in the cloud, then you will incur additional charges for accessing them.

This is a good solution, although it is still new compared to some other remote desktop services that have been out there for a very long time. It still has room for improvement such as accessing the microphone for Android remote access. Because of this, using it on an Android device may not be the best choice.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
PG
Senior Software Analyst at a university with 201-500 employees
Real User
Great screen draw feature; option of using two monitors is very useful

Pros and Cons

  • "Good screen draw feature and ability to use two monitors."
  • "Lacks a notification feature when internet is down."

What is our primary use case?

When I'm in the office I use the solution to connect to another server to look at files or services that are running, things like that. When working from home I use it to connect to our VPN and then to my work computer and pretty much do everything that way. I'm a senior software analyst at an educational institution and I believe we have a partnership with Microsoft. 

How has it helped my organization?

Because of Covid, the solution has given those stuck at home the ability to continue working.

What is most valuable?

I think the price of this product is great. The solution allows me the option of using two monitors. I like the screen draw in Remote Desktop, it's better than GoToMyPC, which I've used previously although the improvement could also be related to a better internet connection over the past six months. 

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful if there was a feature that notifies you when the internet is down so you're not working for nothing, it should be something that pops right up where you can see it. The internet is always going to go down and the product seems to notice that it's down before my VPN notifies me that it's gone down. You're working and nothing's happening and it takes time to get the notification. 

For an additional feature, I'd like to see Remote Desktop specify which computer Zoom meetings will run on. I've joined a couple of sessions from home, and when I turn on my video, all you see is my empty desk chair at the office.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for six months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is not really relevant but the solution is used by a fair number of the IT staff. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never needed to use technical support. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I previously used GoToMyPC because I used to do upgrades from home at night. We were paying for that solution which wasn't necessary with the free Microsoft option. I used both of them for a short time and realized Remote Desktop really seemed to draw the screen better and also everybody else was using it. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. You've got to have the IP address of the computer you're connecting to - in our organization it's managed by our network manager.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution. 

I rate this product an eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Geeth Shammika
System Engineer at KBSL Information Technologies
Real User
Top 20
Easy to set up, quick to deploy, and the desktop virtualization is good

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the desktop session and desktop virtualization."
  • "My customers are worried that the RDP protocol can be easily compromised and would like the option to use an alternative like Blast."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and this is a product that we implement for our customers.

We use Microsoft RDS in conjunction with VMware for desktop virtualization.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the desktop session and desktop virtualization.

What needs improvement?

My customers are worried that the RDP protocol can be easily compromised and would like the option to use an alternative like Blast. The details of RDP are available to everyone and it has been used in industry for many years, so people know what points are vulnerable. If there were a patented protocol available as an option then people would be happy because they will be more assured of the security. Tweaking this would be really good in terms of security.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Microsoft Remote Desktop Services for between five and six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Microsoft RDS is reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is really easy to scale-up or scale-out. Just add one, two, or three cells and it works. It's really straightforward.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have never been in contact with Microsoft technical support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward and I haven't had any issues in the past three years.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution has a perpetual license and it is purchased upfront.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is considering this solution is that it is really easy to set up and it can be deployed in an urgent manner, depending on the environment. If you need remote access and do not have the expertise, yet it is an emergency situation, then this could be a great product.

If you're looking for a good end-user experience and you're concerned about all of the features, then Microsoft does not have all that VMware does. It can do almost everything, but there are some features that it does not support.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Implementer
DK
Technical Manager at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Very user friendly, has smooth connectivity and works with a low bandwidth

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution has very smooth connectivity and is very user friendly."
  • "Updates sometimes impact the application and we have system crashes."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a technical manager and we are customers of Microsoft.

What is most valuable?

The solution has very smooth connectivity and is a very user friendly product. An additional advantage is that it works with very low bandwidth. 

What needs improvement?

We've had a few occasions when the application has crashed suddenly, possibly due to updates. Microsoft updates should not directly impact the application and rather than releasing post hotfixes, it would be better to carry out testing before releasing it to the environment. It's a challenge for us; the new application is upgraded, but there's an incompatibility. It should be the other way around - testing in the lab environment and then commercially released.

An additional feature we'd like to see would be cross-platform support. With more OSs in the market whether Microsoft, iMac or Android applications, it would be good to have a smooth transition between cross-platform support both in terms of operating system and in terms of devices. Moving from tabs to mobiles to desktops to laptops to notebooks - the transition between multiple OSs and multiple hardwares.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for the last five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The product is scalable, we have over 500 users. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The quality of the technical support is quite good although it's often dependent on the quality of the Microsoft partner. If the partner is good, then support is good but if not, there can be issues. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing in comparison to similar products is quite good.

What other advice do I have?

I would suggest a UAT test on a smaller group or pilot deployment. Once you do a test run on the pilot deployment, then it should be rolled out for a larger base of users.

In terms of overall experience, I rate the solution eight out of 10. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Joe Appelgryn
Implementation Engineer at Border Business Systems
Real User
Top 20
Easy to set up, performs well, and saves us money on hardware costs

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is performance."
  • "It could be made simpler from a management perspective."

What is our primary use case?

We are using Microsoft Remote Desktop Services for small-scale virtual desktop applications. It is utilized for normal desktop usage.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution saves us time and money because running applications directly on the server means that we can use lower-priced, entry-level computers for the users.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is performance. We run all of our applications on the server and access them using this product, which is must faster than upgrading all of the desktops.

What needs improvement?

It could be made simpler from a management perspective.

It should be easier to set it up for desktop printing.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Microsoft Remote Desktop Services for about five years. When we started using this product, it was called Terminal Services.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is quite stable and we have never had any problems with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Given our usage, we have not had to deal with scaling this product.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've worked with VMware Horizon and Citrix before.

VMware Horizon is easier to manage, although the Microsoft product is easier to install than other solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is relatively easy. In that regard, Microsoft is easier to install than the VMware ones that I've worked with, as well as Citrix.

What about the implementation team?

We set everything up ourselves and I haven't had the need to consult anybody else for technical support.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing could always be improved.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, this product works well, it is fine for the purpose that we use it, and I recommend it.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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SS
ICT Infrastructure Specialist at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Very reliable and scalable, good pricing, and supports HTML5 web client

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution at the moment is the HTML5 web client. You get a browser experience, not just the terminal sort of client, and the integration with Azure multi-factor application."
  • "Its look and feel could be updated. In Azure Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which is a VDI solution, we would like to see linked clones. It is a Hyper-V solution, and it doesn't support linked clones and uses a lot of storage. That's why we don't use it. VMware has a similar solution that supports linked clones for the master image."

What is our primary use case?

Our use case is two-fold. We use it for securing workplaces in our on-premise environment for remote users. We also use it for management. We manage most of our environments from a secure remote desktop in our data center. We connect through a remote desktop gateway with a two-factor application installed there.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution at the moment is the HTML5 web client. You get a browser experience, not just the terminal sort of client, and the integration with Azure multi-factor application.

What needs improvement?

Its look and feel could be updated.

In Azure Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which is a VDI solution, we would like to see linked clones. It is a Hyper-V solution, and it doesn't support linked clones and uses a lot of storage. That's why we don't use it. VMware has a similar solution that supports linked clones for the master image.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. At the moment, we have around 2,000 users.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a Premier support contract, and it works great.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup was straightforward. Because of COVID-19, we had to deploy workspaces for our users. It was fairly simple to deploy our RDS farm so that our users could work safely from home.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Its licensing is on a yearly basis. We're on the educational or academic license, and our terms are good. We're very happy with the pricing.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution. I would rate Microsoft Remote Desktop Services an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
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