Windows Server 2019: Session Host is dead! Multi-user Win10 instead?

Microsoft released a preview build of Windows Server 2019 the other day, and amongst all new features, one notable feature is missing: the Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) role.

Initially when i first learned about this on a tweet from Claudio Rodrigues. I googled to discover more details, but all I found were some random anonymous comments from folks that said they couldn’t install the RDSH role on 2019.

So yesterday I downloaded the Windows Server 2019 LTSB preview / 1803 / 17623 build to learn for myself.

For quite a few context, the craze from Microsoft is they’re attempting to move people off doing a GUI on Windows Server. For this reason the images smaller and simpler for containerization and virtualization, and, perhaps also, it increases security by decreasing the attack surface. Walking, if you even want an *option* for those GUI, you’ll must use the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). If you choose one of the other Server 2019 releases, love the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), installing a GUI isn’t really even a solution.

Anyway, I installed the “Windows Server Standard (Desktop Experience)” belonging to the Server 2019 LTSB ISO. Right off the bat I seen that the installation notes explain which the option only exists for legacy applications that are looking for a GUI. It says nothing about remote users or RDSH.

Next, I added the Active Directory Domain Services role (and everything it needed) to install a new domain.

Then, aided by the Add Roles and has Wizard, I decided the “Remote Desktop Services” installation type which says, “Install required role services for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) produce a virtual machine-based or session-based desktop deployment.” This band are brilliant should automatically install the RD Connection Broker, RD Web Access, and RD Session Host.

To a point, so good.

The earliest two roles installed not an issue, but the RD Session Host failed using an error about RDSH not existing. Other errors inside the log stated that “The role, roles service, or feature name is not really valid: ??rds-rd-server’.”

Recognize in the past they had sometimes issues installing Session Host for a passing fancy machine apart from ran the hyperlink broker, well, i spun up another Server 2019 VM, added it about the domain, and tried out install specifically the Session Host role utilizing the Connection Broker and Web Access for the first server. This install failed in a similar way.

Finally, I tried to install RDSH among the “Server Roles” wizard rather than “Installation Type” wizard. I checked “Remote Desktop Services” box, products on the next screen I only saw here sub-options:

Remote Desktop Connection Broker
Remote Desktop Gateway
Remote Desktop Licensing
Remote Desktop Virtualization Host
Remote Desktop Web Access

No Remote Desktop Session Host.

Dependant upon this, I believe confident making the statement that RDSH has not been part of Windows Server 2019. My guess is they just didn’t remove excessive from the Server Manager wizard yet, the way it looks like the 2016 version that’s been lifted into 2019.
So no RDSH? What’s next?

If Microsoft removes RDSH from Windows Server, what am i saying for the RDS world? Mid-section XenApp? What about multiwin? What about?- everything?

The companion rumor to Microsoft removing RDSH from Server is they will be *adding* a multi-user, multiwin-based substitute for Windows 10. (Claudio and several other people mentioned this on Twitter, there isn’t any heard about it a few months ago on my own too.)

To paraphrase, Microsoft is taking Terminal Server outside of Windows Server and stepping into Windows 10.

If true, furthermore this is fantastic.

Choosing reason that Terminal Server / Session Host was ever according to a server OS was it has been created in the 1990s when Windows Server was should support the multiple processors, huge memory, and server-specific hardware (SCSI, etc.) that led to needed to support multiple simultaneous users.

The greatest change in history twenty years is virtualization. IN 2018, most RDSH / XenApp servers are VMs anyway, and Windows 10 and Windows Server both work just as well as a VM.

One of the few downsides associated with a server for a desktop will probably be the almost-but-not-quite application compatibility. Most everyone would agree that if there was for example Terminal Server / RDSH that has magically consistent with Windows client, (and fully maintained Microsoft), that would be great.

All the other reason Microsoft were forced to stick with RDSH on Server for thus long was their ridiculous client licensing restrictions dictating Windows client usage, ownership, hardware, RDS CALs, SPLA for Windows client, etc. (I won’t re-rant with that, but readers know I’ve been pretty clear about my head on how Microsoft licenses Windows clients for remote GUI usage.)

In earlier times year, Microsoft initiated a policy of to relax several of these restrictions, along with tea foliage is suggesting the fact that this trend continues.

So in 2018/2019, are mainly true:

Microsoft is wanting to remove / minimize the GUI on Server.
Windows Server for a VM runs like with Windows client within a VM.
Windows desktop apps “prefer” a plaintiff OS versus a server OS.
Licensing restrictions that spawned creative “server as a good desktop” usage models ready away.

In this world, it seems like a no-brainer to pull RDSH from Windows Server. (The particular Session Host role, clearly. It makes sense which keeps the other Remote Desktop roles in server, like the connection broker and web access, as those are “real” server roles that don’t call for a GUI.)
Will we really need multi-user Windows 10?

The only remaining question I possess is whether a multi-user Windows 10 actually is needed. If my way through a datacenter in 2018 works as a VM, then what’s the differences between a single physical host possessing a hundred Windows 10 VMs (1 user per VM) versus that very same host with ten multi-user Windows 10 VMs (10 users per VM)?

Part of the traditional “RDSH versus VDI” arguments still do apply here, like maybe that multi-user VMs end up being more efficient, while single-user VMs provide more flexibility (per-user suspend, resume, live migration, resizing, etc.).

One other thing Allowed me to think of straight away is for single app publishing / RemoteApp. In some use case that users are equally using a single Windows app, without any whole remote Windows desktop, maybe it is far better to have multi-user VMs that will spin up sessions per user as a substitute for full VMs per user?

Nevertheless for rank-and-file remote desktop users, In my opinion I’d want “real” Windows 10, single-user desktop VMs (e.g. VDI) instead of multi-user ones (e.g. Windows 10 sessions).
The conclusion

If more or less everything turns out to be true, when i can safely predict that 2019 often is the year of VDI. 🙂

You’ll find it means that a first prediction, that my 2015 presentation of “RDSH versus VDI” are classified as the last time I ever gave that presentation, will prove to be true also.

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