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Virtualize with Terminal Services


Benefits Limitations Basic Requirements Recommendation for Size

Easy to configure

Centrally managed

Some enterprises already have Terminal Services deployed

All resources to run Internet Explorer® on server side

Clients need network access to the server resources

Requires user training

Requires purchase of Windows Server® 2003 Client Access Licenses to expand Terminal Services option

Requires both client and server; requires Windows Server 2003

Suitable for any size organization

Terminal Services (known as Remote Desktop Services in the and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems) is a centralized application deployment and remote access solution that uses presentation virtualization, which separates where the application is used from where it is run. Terminal Services is best suited to a medium-sized to large-sized organization with a light server infrastructure, where the client computers have access to the server resources.

You must run Terminal Services in Windows Server 2003, because Internet Explorer 6 is the default version of Internet Explorer included in Windows Server 2003 ( includes Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 includes Internet Explorer 8).

For step-by-step guidance and best practices for using Terminal Services, see Appendix 3: How to Use Terminal Services.

Benefits of Using Terminal Services

When you use Terminal Services to virtualize Internet Explorer 6, all the activities on the networks and all the development and management issues related to the network are handled by the central computer or server. This central server makes it easy to configure and centrally manage. After Terminal Services are applied to the computer, clients can connect on the local area network (LAN) connection, virtual private network (VPN) connection, or through a wide area network (WAN) connection. The benefits of using Terminal Services include:

  • Rapid, Centralized Deployment. When you use Terminal Services, all resources necessary to run the instance of Internet Explorer are located on the server side. Centrally deployed applications are easy to patch and upgrade.

  • Low-Bandwidth Access to Data. Terminal Services reduce the amount of network bandwidth that is required for data access.


Using Terminal Services to virtualize Internet Explorer 6 is not as seamless as the other virtualization options. You must connect to a new desktop to access Internet Explorer 6, and you must minimize the remote desktop session to access the local desktop. Be aware, however, that you can run the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) session with the optimal resolution for your applications or sites. Additionally, you can configure this RDP session to run only Internet Explorer and no other applications (including the Start menu and desktop), and you do not have to open the RDP session in full screen mode.

Because most Microsoft operating systems ship with versions of Internet Explorer, the Windows Server 2003 operating system must be used to virtualize Internet Explorer 6. This means you cannot take advantage of the Terminal Services RemoteApp™ capabilities in the and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems. You must use a traditional Terminal Services RDP session. (To virtualize Internet Explorer 7, you can use or Windows Server 2008 R2 and a TSweb/RemoteApp RDP session, though this document does not cover these technologies.)

Licensing Considerations

Terminal Services is licensed on a per-device or per-user basis and is not available on a per-server or concurrent basis. Each device or user, whether the device or user connects directly to the terminal server or indirectly via another server, requires appropriate licenses to be assigned to it. In this scenario, the required licenses include Terminal Services for Windows Server 2003.

For more information, see Licensing Terminal Sever in Windows Server 2003 R2.

System Requirements for Terminal Services

The system requirements for Terminal Services are the requirements for the Windows Server 2003 operating system. These can be found at System Requirements.

Be aware that Terminal Services can be virtualized. While hardware-assisted virtualization is not required, it can improve performance.

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