Remote Desktop Services

Prior to Windows Server 2012 this technology was called Windows Terminal Services, however Remote Desktop Services is fundamentally the same thing, albeit improved in Windows Server 2012 of course.

One interesting point is that in order to install this Role your Windows Server 2012 machine must be joined to a domain. To be honest, I was not expecting this, however it does make sense. In addition if you wish to use Virtualised Desktops then you need "Hardware-Assisted Virtualisation" but not Session Based. I have tried this with Windows Server 2012 R2 in VirtualBox 4.3.x and the Hardware-Assisted Virtualisation was not passed through and hence did not work. I need to test this with VirtualBox 5.x.

Remote Connections

You can connect to Remote Desktop Services with the client, which is called "Remote Desktop Connection", which is normally on the Start screen/menu but also can be run via the command line, for example:
mstsc /v:myserver /w:1024 /h:768
From the example you can see that the screen height and width can be specified as well as the server name or IP address. Another option is to run the client and store all the settings in a .RDP file.

To change the password via the Remote Desktop Connection you cannot press Ctrl-Alt-Del as normal but Ctrl-Alt-End does the same thing. However do note this only works on the first session, whereas you can remote desktop to other servers within the first session.


A lot of the time you will be connecting to another machine on the same domain, so entering username and password works fine. Sometimes you have a different domain so need to specify the user as: domain\username. However if the computer you are connecting to is Windows 10 then you will probably need to authenticate with your Microsoft Account, in which case use this: MicrosoftAccount\ms-account-email-address. In effect you are specifying a domain of "MicrosoftAccount" and a username of the Microsoft Account e-mail address. Simple when you know but not so easy to guess.

This is the same when using RDP from a Mac and specifically Microsoft Remote Desktop 8. However version 8 is being retired on 1st September 2018 and will disappear from the App Store and version 10 will be the only option, see Remote Desktop web client now generally available – Enterprise Mobility + Security. One strange thing I found with version 10 is that where before I was using MicrosoftAccount\ms-account-email-address with version 10 this would not work but ms-account-email-address on its own worked fine.


I have documented some information about RDP on Linux at Using Linux.