While Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will not be a major upgrade to the RTM version, the evolution of the operating system is designed to close the gap between physical and virtual desktops, as far as Microsoft is concerned. Service Pack 1, which will be delivered as a single package for both Windows 7 client and Windows Server 2008 R2, will deliver a key, new RDS platform capability to the latter, namely Microsoft RemoteFX. Along with Dynamic Memory, RemoteFX will kick up a notch the company’s virtualization stack.
Specifically, RemoteFX will make possible a media-rich, local-like user experience for virtual and session-based desktops and applications based on Windows Server 2008 R2, according to Max Herrmann, from the Windows Server RDS team at Microsoft. Closing the gap between physical and virtual desktops starts with details such as support for full-fidelity video, rich media and 3D graphics. However, there are additional capabilities that can blur the line between physical and virtual machines.
“I want to introduce another aspect of Microsoft RemoteFX and how it can further help close the user experience gap between physical and virtual desktops: Customers looking to deploy a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) expect their users to be able to plug any peripheral device into their client device and have it ‘just work’ within a virtual desktop as if it was a physical desktop,” Herrmann stated.
With Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM, the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is limited when it comes down to supporting high-level redirection. While the OS is capable of dealing with printer redirection, disk drive redirection, and PnP-device redirection, there are a consistent number of devices for which this type of experience is not possible today. Windows 7 SP1 will change this, and deliver a more comprehensive, high-level device-redirection solution through RemoteFX USB redirection.
“A much better solution is to redirect devices at the USB level (or to be more specific, the USB request block, or URB level). With that type of solution, which we have chosen for VDI desktops, no device drivers are needed on the client device, and we can provide a universal interface that works with any USB device on any of our supported platforms. This solution is able to successfully redirect most of the devices users wish to use, including audio in/out devices, storage devices, HID devices (tablets, keyboards, etc.), and printers and scanners,” Herrmann added.
What is important to underline is that Microsoft is not looking to replace the current redirection model available to customers. Herrmann made it clear that RemoteFX USB redirection would be added on top of existing device-redirection capabilities in RDP.