An RDS host is a server computer that hosts applications and desktop sessions for remote access. An RDS host can be a virtual machine or a physical server.

An RDS host has the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services role, the Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host service, and Horizon Agent installed. Remote Desktop Services was previously known as Terminal Services. The Remote Desktop Session Host service allows a server to host applications and remote desktop sessions. With Horizon Agent installed on an RDS host, users can connect to applications and desktop sessions by using the display protocol PCoIP or Blast Extreme. Both protocols provide an optimized user experience for the delivery of remote content, including images, audio and video.

The performance of an RDS host depends on many factors. For information on how to tune the performance of different versions of Windows Server, see

Horizon 7 supports at most one desktop session and one application session per user on an RDS host.

Horizon 7 supports both local printer redirection and native network printers.

Local printer redirection is designed for the following use cases:

  • Printers directly connected to USB or serial ports on the client device
  • Specialized printers such as bar code printers and label printers connected to the client
  • Network printers on a remote network that are not addressable from the virtual session

Network printers are managed using corporate print servers, which allows for greater management and control of printer resources. Native printer drivers for all possible printers need to be installed on the virtual machine or RDSH host. If you consider this challenging, there are third-party options such as advanced versions of ThinPrint that can provide network printing without the need to install additional printer drivers on each virtual machine or RDSH host. The Print and Document Services option included with Microsoft Windows Server is another option for managing your network printers.

When users submit print jobs concurrently from RDS desktops or applications that are hosted on the same RDS host, the ThinPrint server on the RDS host processes the print requests serially rather than in parallel. This can cause a delay for some users.

If a user launches an application and also an RDS desktop, and both are hosted on the same RDS host, they share the same user profile. If the user launches an application from the desktop, conflicts may result if both applications try to access or modify the same parts of the user profile, and one of the applications may fail to run properly.

The process of setting up applications or RDS desktops for remote access involves the following tasks:

  1. Set up RDS hosts.
  2. Create a farm. See Creating Farms.
  3. Create an application pool or an RDS desktop pool. See Creating Application Pools or Creating RDS Desktop Pools.
  4. Entitle users and groups. See Entitling Users and Groups.
  5. (Optional) Enable time zone redirection for RDS desktop and application sessions. See Enable Time Zone Redirection for Published Desktop and Application Sessions.
Note: If smart card authentication is enabled, make sure that the Smart Card service is disabled on RDS hosts. Otherwise, authentication might fail. By default, this service is disabled.
Caution: When a user launches an application, for example, a Web browser, it is possible for a user to gain access to the local drives on the RDS host that is hosting the application. This can happen if the application provides functions that cause Windows Explorer to run. Do not create RDS desktop pools and application pools on the same farm so that desktop sessions are not affected.

Installing Applications

If you plan to create application pools, you must install the applications on the RDS hosts. If you want Horizon 7 to automatically display the list of installed applications, you must install the applications so that they are available to all users from the Start menu. You can install an application at any time before you create the application pool. If you plan to manually specify an application, you can install the application at any time, either before or after creating an application pool.

Important: When you install an application, you must install it on all the RDS hosts in a farm and in the same location on each RDS host. If you do not, a health warning will appear on the View Administrator dashboard. In such a situation, if you create an application pool, users might encounter an error when they try to run the application.

When you create an application pool, Horizon 7 automatically displays the applications that are available to all users rather than individual users from the Start menu on all of the RDS hosts in a farm. You can choose any applications from that list. In addition, you can manually specify an application that is not available to all users from the Start menu. There is no limit on the number of applications that you can install on an RDS host.