This article describes the differences between Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 when you use the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client to remotely connect to the server for administrative purposes.
In Windows Server 2003, you can start the RDC client (Mstsc.exe) by using the /console switch to remotely connect to the physical console session on the server (also known as session 0). In Windows Server 2008, the /console switch has been deprecated. session 0 is a noninteractive session that is reserved for services.
You can use the new /admin switch to remotely connect to a Windows Server 2008-based server for administrative purposes. The /admin switch is introduced in RDC 6.1. RDC 6.1 is included in the following operating systems:
Windows Server 2008
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1)
Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3)
RDC 6.1 does not support the /console switch. However, for backward compatibility, you can use the /admin switch to connect to the physical console session on a Windows Server 2003-based server. For example, to connect from a Windows Vista SP1-based client to the physical console session of a Windows Server 2003-based server, run the mstsc.exe /admin command.
Why the /console switch is no longer needed
In Windows Server 2003, you use the Mstsc.exe /console command to start a Remote Desktop session for the following reasons:
To connect to session 0
Some applications are installed and run only in session 0. This is because the applications have to communicate with services that run in session 0 or because the applications have to display user
interface (UI) elements that are displayed in session 0.
To connect back to an existing session on the physical console
Because the physical console session in Windows Server 2003 is always session 0, the only way that you can reconnect to this session is by using the /console switch.
In Windows Server 2008, the /console switch functionality is no longer needed
Improved application compatibility guarantees that legacy applications that have to communicate with services in session 0 will be installed and run in sessions other than session 0. Additionally, if the service that is associated with an application tries to display UI elements in session 0, a built-in capability in Windows Server 2008 and in Windows Vista enables you to view and to interact with the session 0 UI from your session. Windows Server 2008 session 0 is a noninteractive session that is reserved for services. Therefore, there is no need for you to explicitly connect to this session.
Because the physical console session is never session 0, you can always reconnect to your existing session on the physical console. The Restrict Terminal Services users to a single remote session Group Policy setting determines whether you can connect to your existing physical console session. This setting is available in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Connections node of the Local Group Policy Editor. You can also configure this setting in Terminal Services Configuration. The Restrict each user to a single session setting appears in Edit settings in the General section.
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