Microsoft Terminal Server Overview

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Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition is an extension to the Windows NT Server product line that delivers the Windows experience to diverse desktop hardware through terminal emulation. Terminal Server supports a full range of clients and it enhances computing environments by:
  • Extending the scalable Windows family--serving companies that want to deploy a "thin client" solution to deliver 32-bit Windows to a wide range of legacy desktop hardware devices.
  • Combining the low cost of a terminal with the benefits of a managed Windows-based environment-- offers the same low cost, centrally managed environment of the traditional mainframe with terminals, but adds the familiarity, ease of use, and breadth of applications support offered by the Windows operating system platform.

The Terminal Server product consists of four components:

  • Terminal Server--This multiuser server core provides the ability to host multiple, simultaneous client sessions on Windows NT Server 4.0, and on future versions of Windows NT Server. Terminal Server is capable of directly hosting compatible multi-user client desktops running on a variety of Windows-based and non Windows-based hardware. Standard Windows-based applications, if properly written, do not need modification to run on the Terminal Server, and all standard Windows NT-based management infrastructure and technologies can be used to manage the client desktops.
  • Remote Display Protocol --A key component of Terminal Server, this protocol allows a client to communicate with the Terminal Server over the network. This protocol is based on International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) T.120 protocol and it is a multi-channel protocol tuned for high-bandwidth enterprise environments, and will also support three levels of encryption.
  • Terminal Server Client --The client software that presents, or displays, the familiar 32-bit Windows User Interface on a range of desktop hardware:
    • New Windows-based Terminal devices (embedded).
    • Personal computers running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT Workstation 3.51, 4.0, or Windows 2000 Professional.
    • Personal computers running Windows for Workgroups (Windows 3.11).
  • Administration Tools-- In addition to all the familiar Windows NT Server administration tools, Terminal Server adds the Terminal Server License Manager, Terminal Server Client Creator, Terminal Server Client Connection Configuration, and Terminal Server Administration tools for managing client sessions. Two new objects, Session and User, are also added to the Performance Monitor to allow tuning of the server in a multi-user environment.

    Citrix MetaFrame also adds value to Terminal Server through its thin-client/server add-on software.

    More general information about Terminal Server can be found in the White Papers "Bringing Windows to Desktops that Can't Run Windows Today" and "Microsoft's Thin Client Strategy - Simplicity and Choice", or by reading the datasheet and features list.

    The Terminal Server development team is currently focused on making Terminal Services available for the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server platform. The team will be looking closely at new features for this release, as well as ways to improve the product's scalability and performance. Features already being considered include local device redirection, session shadowing, and server load balancing. Terminal support for Windows NT Server is a strategic technology for Microsoft and one that will continue to be improved through the coming Windows NT Server product releases. 

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