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Deploying Personal Virtual Desktops by Using Remote Desktop Web Access Step-by-Step Guide

Published: May 1, 2009

Updated: March 30, 2010

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of setting up a working personal virtual desktop accessible by using Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web Access) in a test environment. During this process, you will create a test deployment that includes the following components:

  • A Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RD Virtualization Host) server

  • A Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RD Connection Broker) server

  • A Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server in redirection mode

  • A Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web Access) server

  • A virtual machine configured as a personal virtual desktop

This guide assumes that you previously completed the steps in the Installing Remote Desktop Session Host Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=147292), and that you have already deployed the following components:

  • An RD Session Host server

  • A Remote Desktop Connection client computer

  • An Active Directory Domain Services domain controller

This guide includes the following topics:

The goal of a personal virtual desktop is to provide a user with a virtual desktop that is assigned to only that user.

This guide does not provide the following:

A specific virtual machine that is hosted on an RD Virtualization Host server can be assigned to a user account in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) to use as a personal virtual desktop, which the user can then access by using RemoteApp and Desktop Connection or RD Web Access.

The following are important considerations about assigning a personal virtual desktop to a user in AD DS:

  • To deploy personal virtual desktops, your schema for the Active Directory forest must be at least Windows Server 2008. To use the added functionality provided by the Personal Virtual Desktop tab in the User Account Properties dialog box in Active Directory Users and Computers, you must run Active Directory Users and Computers from a computer running Windows Server 2008 R2 or a computer running Windows 7 that has Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed.

  • You must use a domain functional level of at least Windows 2000 Server native mode. The functional levels Windows 2000 Server mixed mode and Windows Server 2003 interim mode are not supported.

  • Ensure that the RDVH-SRV computer meets the Hyper-V installation prerequisites (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=122183).

  • The user account and the virtual machine must both be members of an Active Directory domain.

  • Personal virtual desktops can only use Windows client operating systems. You cannot install Windows Server® 2008 R2 on a virtual machine and assign it as a personal virtual desktop.

  • A user can be assigned only one personal virtual desktop at a time.

  • A virtual machine can be assigned as a personal virtual desktop to only one user at a time.

  • The name of the virtual machine in the Hyper-V Manager tool must match the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the computer.

A virtual machine should not be both a member of a virtual desktop pool and assigned to a user as a personal virtual desktop.

A user is connected to a personal virtual desktop in the following way:

  1. A user initiates the connection to the personal virtual desktop by using RD Web Access or by using RemoteApp and Desktop Connection.

  2. The request is sent to the RD Session Host server running in redirection mode.

  3. The RD Session Host server running in redirection mode forwards the request to the RD Connection Broker server.

  4. The RD Connection Broker server queries Active Directory Domain Services and retrieves the name of the virtual machine that is assigned to the requesting user account.

  5. The RD Connection Broker server sends a request to the RD Virtualization Host server to start the virtual machine.

  6. The RD Virtualization Host server returns the IP address of the fully qualified domain name to the RD Connection Broker server. The RD Connection Broker server then sends this information to the RD Session Host server running in redirection mode.

  7. The RD Session Host server running in redirection mode redirects the request to the client computer that initiated the connection.

  8. The client computer connects to the personal virtual desktop.

We recommend that you first use the steps provided in this guide in a test lab environment. Step-by-step guides are not necessarily meant to be used to deploy Windows Server features without additional deployment documentation and should be used with discretion as a stand-alone document.

Upon completion of this step-by-step guide, you will have a personal virtual desktop assigned to a user account that can connect by using RD Web Access. You can then test and verify this functionality by connecting to the personal virtual desktop from RD Web Access as a standard user.

The test environment described in this guide includes seven computers connected to a private network using the following operating systems, applications, and services:


Computer name Operating system Applications and services


Windows Server 2008 R2

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), DNS


Windows Server 2008 R2

RD Session Host


Windows® 7

Remote Desktop Connection


Windows Server 2008 R2

RD Virtualization Host, Hyper-V


Windows Server 2008 R2

RD Connection Broker


Windows Server 2008 R2

RD Web Access


Windows 7

Virtual machine


The computers form a private network and are connected through a common hub or Layer 2 switch. This step-by-step exercise uses private addresses throughout the test lab configuration. The private network ID is used for the network. The domain controller is named CONTOSO-DC for the domain named contoso.com. The following figure shows the configuration of the test environment.

RDS PDV SxS Network Diagram

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