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Terminal Services - just my two cents

I currently work in florida for a company in Seattle ( plug plug).  My workstation for the past two years is still in Washington and I log into it using Terminal Services just like I was in the office .

I run in full screen mode at 1280 x 768 and usually can not tell the difference.  You need broadband to pull this off.  TS is fine on dial up for admin stuff but not for 8-10 hours a day.  Also set it to cache bitmaps and be sure to run in full screen mode.  If you run in a window its noticably slower (I assume since its scaling to fit the window).

I also work on a wireless laptop running FreeBSD and RDesktop, a TS client, is actually better then the Microsoft client.  It seems to be less laggy, doesn't lose the connection as often (about once a week or so usually.), and fully supports the keyboard commands.  Alt-Tab being my windows client pet peeve.  With the Windows client alt-tab actually switches between the TS window and your actual desktop.

Good times all around ;)

jon Kenoyer
Sunday, October 20, 2002

For what it's worth, the Windows XP terminal services client handles Alt-Tab correctly when you're in full screen mode. That is to say, it transmits the Alt-Tab to the remote machine rather than shuffleing windows on the local machine.

An anonymous XP User
Sunday, October 20, 2002

The great thing about TS is that it gives the windows world a thin client.

It really is too bad that we can’t extend TS to operate a single window/applicaton. That means I should be able to launch word on your PC, but have all the output sent to a window on mine. (that way, I would not need windows to be virtualized like it is with TS).

This is of course how x-windows works on Unix. If some comes out with a product that splits the output window from the application, then this would allow some real cool stuff. I could for example run the accounting package down the hall without it being installed on my PC. Or the tax calc program in the cubicle next to me could be run, and I would not have to install it (why bother when I only run it once a year..).

By the way, if anyone is looking for a real cool application for windows that will turn heads at Microsoft and make/force them to buy you out, then take the above suggestion of mine and run with it. All you have to do is create a product that uses the RDP protocol, and gives us a socket for each application window. Voila, instant application sharing across the web, and within a company. It would also open doors to disturbed processing.

Since TS can now enable any windows program to run across the web, why would anyone even bother re-writing any software for the web when you can web enable any software with zero re-writing? Why even bother with .net now that we have TS??

My thoughts, and answer to that question can be found at:

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, October 20, 2002

Albert, isn't that what Citrix Metaframe is supposed to do?

Joel Spolsky
Sunday, October 20, 2002

Terminal Services isn't really a thin client, its just that the good old fat client is somewhere else.  It doesn't scale all that well when moving to hundreds of users unless you move up to Metaframe and even then the ratio of connections to processors is much lower than using a server process with a thinner client.

Simon P. Lucy
Monday, October 21, 2002

Citrix allows ANY client, Unix, Mac etc, not just Windows machines with RDP.

The problem I see is that not everyone in the world runs Windows Terminal Server.  Another issue is profiles on the server you are logging into going corrupt as per normal.

I guess from having worked with Citrix metaframe on NT Terminal Server, I just don't see it as a solution for the masses.  What made the web browser app path popular was that it didn't matter what the server was, or the client was.  Requiring Terminal Services from Windows shoots that in the butt.  You for sure need Windows servers and probably desktops too, unless you opt for Citrix Metaframe.

Browser apps do suck.  I think that is what XDocs are all about.  Microsofts attempt to come up with a new format for browser type apps that doesn't suck.  Only you will be forced to drink their Kool-AId.  No thanks

not doing dotnet
Monday, October 21, 2002

"Browser apps do suck"

I'd be interested in reading a little more justification for this opinion.  In my experience, the web applications that I use are *much* better than the desktop applications.

1) They are accessible from anywhere.
2) They have simpler (and thus easier to use) user interfaces.
3) The user interfaces are really easy to change - so I can fix things I don't like - and by extension, add new functionality.
4) They are generally faster and more robust than the equivalent desktop application.

Now, mind you, with the exception of banking sites, the web applications I use are all internally produced.  As a result it is natural that I would have more control over an internally produced application.  However, if these internally produced applications were desktop applications, I would not have a clue where to start.

And I have seen some very ugly web applications that were not only so slow as to be practically unusable, but also very complicated from a UI perspective.  But that holds true for desktop applications as well.

So, back to my original question.  What is it specifically about web apps that prompted your comment "browser apps do suck"?


Not a programmer.
Monday, October 21, 2002

"So, back to my original question.  What is it specifically about web apps that prompted your comment "browser apps do suck"?"

1.  Speed, latency.  I have to travel at the speed of http. 
2.  They are stateless, necessitating cookies etc to keep track of your shopping cart, etc.
3.  UI, UI, UI.  The User interface to almost any desktop program you want to name is vastly superior to 90% of the web apps.
Perhaps you work with the best web apps in the world, but I've never liked them.

not doing dotnet
Monday, October 21, 2002

>>4) They are generally faster and more robust than the equivalent desktop application.

You just be kidding!!

Monday, October 21, 2002

Thin client does not necessarily mean browser or using HTTP protocol.  Indeed you could argue that a browser (in the sense of IE, NN or Opera), is a very fat client doing a very thin thing.

Simon P. Lucy
Monday, October 21, 2002


I would comment that are other ways of maintaining state information than cookies, notably by requiring the user to log-in.  But I would certainly agree that this is a difference between the two.  I'm not sure that I would go so far to say that the difference automatically causes web apps to be inferior :)

wrt speed - obviously the speed of your connection is going to slow things down if you are offsite - but - most of the web applications that I use aren't always offsite.  In fact, I often access them via an internal network.  Since many of the applications I'm talking about are the client side of a client-server relationship - there is no difference in the speed between the two (at least not a perceptible one for me).

Someone expressed doubt about my "robustness" comment.  This is purely based on my personal experience (as I noted before).  I would elaborate by saying that I disagree with the principle that one should not "throw away" code.  There are way too many companies who ate lots of other companies and integrated their new code, and then updated said code to run on new operating system, and then updated it again - and ended up with nightmarish stuff that is hard to use, hard to maintain and update, and requires a degree to use.  Nuff said. Maybe the software I was previously using was just really really crappy (in which case the 10's of thousands of dollars per seat is almost criminal).

The point I am not so articulately trying to make is that my personal experience with web applications has been much more positive that the clunky desktop applications I formerly had to use (think very large 'enterprise' software designed to track everything and your dog). 

The "bad" applications were slow, crashed frequently, were buggy and confusing (literally hundreds of tabs everywhere, only some of which were actually used - and had to be used in the correct [magic] order to do anything).

The "better" applications (eg Outlook) were insecure, didn't meet our admittedly specialized needs and had to be installed and set-up at every location we wanted to use them.  I guess that the web version of Outlook put out by Microsoft is a good example of what I would term a bad web app (slow, buggy and yes, it does have a worse UI than the app it is copying).

But given the apps I use every day, I think it's a bit too much of a generalization to say that web applications always have worse UIs as compared to desktops.  After all, for every bad web app UI that I've seen - there are equally bad desktop app UIs.

"Perhaps you work with the best web apps in the world, but I've never liked them. "

I guess I must :)

Not a programmer.
Monday, October 21, 2002

Can anybody explain me why every combo box on Web based UI do not support type ahead functionality

Say, I have to enter my country. I am used to typing first 2-3 letters in the combo (based on my Win32 app experience) and get to the country fast. But with WEB UI this is just not possible

Pls correct me if I am wrong, but I have yet to see combo box on WEB UI (pure WEB, not ActiveX stuff) that enables me to do this

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

This is a flaw in dropdown box implementation on the web.

Say you have a list of options:


And you want to select America.  In windows, you'll type "Am" and it will go to the right option.

On the web, you have to type "AA" (or "aa").  If you wanted the third option, you'd have to type "aaa".  Yes, that's retarded (one thing about web apps that is challenging to get around!)

It can be solved by using Javascript, but it's a big limitation, especially if you don't know about being able to type the same letter a second time to get to the next item in the list.

I have no idea who decided to implement it that way, nor why - but they have a lot to answer for :)

Not a programmer.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

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