As a longtime Microsoft Terminal Services administrator and consultant back from the NT 4 days, I can tell you that things have changed a great deal – but at the core, it is all still the same. The biggest change is that Terminal Services was renamed Remote Desktop Services. I still call it Terminal Services, because it is a hard name to drop after so many years working with terminal services and remote desktop services.
Drastic changes have happened with the core technologies, but I am way more [NC1] about the birth of Remote Desktop Web Access. When it was first released, it was an immediate call to duty for me. With Windows 2008, Terminal Services Web Access or TS Web was released, and this first generation product was missing some key functionality. From a Custom Interface standpoint, the initial missing functionality was the first thing I wanted to fix.
So I sat down with my team, and the first item I wanted to address with TS Web was the fact that it had no Login Page. To login to TS Web over the Internet you used the old standard Windows Authentication Box. In my eyes, this had to go. From a usability standpoint, I was already seeing the calls to the support team. After all, people are more comfortable logging into web interfaces via a pretty GUI then a Windows authentication prompt! Most people see that Windows authentication prompt, get confused and think something is wrong. I see it as something users are just not comfortable with.
The second thing I thought was missing was a logoff button. Once you were logged into TS Web, the only way to get out of your session was to close the browser. These two problems had to be corrected.
So we created the Custom Login Page for TS Web and added a simple Logoff Button to the after login screens. We paired this with our Custom Branded TS Web Demo and offered it as an interface customization service. We had a default version that we offered to our customers, keeping everything default but adding a forms based authentication page and a logoff button to the default Terminal Services web access site.
Then we also started tricking out TS Web. First we had our Announcement Module, then our Company Links Module, AD Integration Module, and Twitter Feed Module. Then we started creating more add-ons for TS Web, such as our Downloads Module and our Documents Module. Then we took it a step forward: Since we now were using an FBA Page to log users in, we knew we could pass that information to Outlook Web App (OWA) for Single Sign On from TS Web to OWA. So we added a Mail Tab to TS Web and embedded OWA right into TS Web.
Customers loved this functionality and we did a lot of Custom Branded Microsoft TS Web Access Interfaces for clients.
Then Windows 2008 R2 was released. Microsoft added a FBA Login Page and added a Logoff feature. So what was missing in Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Access – RD Web? I thought about it for a little while, and the first thing we did was to bring all the custom modules we build for TS Web over to RD Web.
But then I had an idea as I was comparing RD Web to Citrix Web Interface. What does Citrix Web Interface have that RD Web Access doesn’t? My thought was that RD Web needed a Change Password Module. So we set out to develop the only Change Password Module for RD Web 2008 R2 – and now for Microsoft RD Web 2012.
We offer a full-featured Change Password Module that you can see on our demos for 2008 R2 @ https://sturics5.techstur.com/RDWeb and for RD Web 2012 @ https://sturics26.techstur.com/RDWeb/Pages/en-US/login.aspx. Our Change Password Module allows users to see how many days are left until their password expires, gives the user the ability to change their password at any time. It also gives the user the ability to change their password on their first login to RD Web after the Administrator of the network resets their password. This is very useful if the user has forgotten the password or if the password expired and they need to change it.
If the Active Directory is setup with a flag to Change Password at Next Login, our Module detects the temporary password, does a lookup in AD for that flag, and if checked, the user is asked to change their password before they can login. We mirror the password validation rules from Active Directory to the Change Password form fields and make sure the validation is the same.
We originally created this module for Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Web Access 2008 R2, but as soon as RD Web Access 2012 was released we created a new demo and brought this vital customization over to RD Web 2012, as well as all of our custom modules created for TS Web and RD Web in the past.
We have worked with a number of Cloud Technology companies to make a multi-tenanted version of RD Web, giving Cloud Customers the ability to have their logo and other vital company data that is specific to their company visible after login either by Active Directory Global Group or Active Directory Organization Unit (OU).
We have taken RD Web as it has developed and tricked it out beyond its original functionality. We’ve helped the product to grow up, building momentum with every new version of RD Web that Microsoft has released.
Do You Want To Interface?
– Jesse Boehm
Interface Customization Services