Terminal Server – Why Not?

I have been using Terminal Server to host Access apps since the NT 4.0 days.  I also use Citrix at clients on a daily basis.  As far as I’m concerned the use of Terminal Services (TS) in a corporation with multiple offices and especially with a mobile or home-based work-force (even World-Wide) is a no-brainer. 

Add to the mix the ubiqitous availability of High-Speed Internet combined with the still overly slow data transfer rates of RAS. 

Also add the safety and automatic backups available by hosting all corporate info back in Corporate servers rather than on notebooks in car trunks and left in coffee shops and the argument for Terminal Services/Citrix is overwhelming.  With 3G Aircards cheaply available the only place you need to be off-line is on  a plane – and they’re working on that.  Frankly I like to SLEEP on planes so the lack of connectivity there is actually a blessing :-).

Then from Microsoft’s perspective making Windows available to users via TS sells more Servers AND more Windows Licenses. It provides the best of both worlds – A full-featured Client story through the Internet.  A perfect counter to Google and the entire Web-Based obsession.

For Microsoft Access the use of  TS is a marriage made in heaven.  It has allowed me to stage and support application using Access across the world and have provided my clients with fantastic results with no penalty for distance or even for somewhat slow connectivity.

From my experience all Major Corporations offer some form of TS option – in most cases you just have to ask for it.  You then set up an AD Group, create an RDP file to launch TS, then launch your Access App – and distribute it to new users for placement on their desktop.  Deployment then consists simply of emailing one RDP file (or even creating a Hyper-link on a SharePoint Site). 

Deployment solved – performance solved -maintenance easy – version control as simple as possible –  one version of the truth.  There are no arguments against using TS with Access IMHO.

Has anyone ever found anything promoting TS as a solution for Access applications?  Does anyone else have any success (or failure) stories about using Terminal Services?

What am I missing here?


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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4 Responses to Terminal Server – Why Not?

  1. Harlan Grove says:

    As for selling more licenses, it depends. The company I work for uses TS through Citrix, and the Linux Citrix client works just fine connecting to TS.

    Unless there’s a license requirement that any client connecting to TS must have a Windows workstation license, the economics would almost compel companies to use ultra thin Linux clients connecting through Citrix to TS. If the Access runtime could run on TS, there wouldn’t be any need for any nondeveloper to have an Access license either.

  2. Dick Moffat says:

    Then if there’s some question about the economics for Microsoft then TS still works for clients (and for Access developers). But even if users get to TS through Citrix on a Linux client, they’re still using Windows when they get there :-).

    But in the end IF TS is available it is a great way for Access developers to deliver reliable, maintainable solutons with good performance wherever the user is located in the world. That strikes me as a good thing … and a totally responsible alternative for development of non-Enterprise applications that have a distributed user-base (which is pretty common IMHO)


  3. Harlan Grove says:

    In my own perverse mind I’m wondering how well the Access runtime would work under Wine running on Linux servers.

    But another part of my mind wonders what the long term prospects for Access are given the prevalence of browser-based transactional and reporting systems. Add to that the relative difference in college or university course offerings in web development vs development using Access or Excel.

    I agree with you on the merits of TS and not-IT/IS departmental development and distribution. I just don’t see how it’s to MSFT’s advantage. I just don’t trust MSFT to refrain from creating subtle impediments to change that’s not in their interests.

  4. Dick Moffat says:

    “Add to that the relative difference in college or university course offerings in web development vs development using Access or Excel.”

    I never saw too many people come to Access based on learning it in University or College myself 🙂

    ” just don’t trust MSFT to refrain from creating subtle impediments to change that’s not in their interests.”

    Yes – that’s a huge frustration for me. I have no idea what their REAL plans are for Access (or Excel) in the client space. I just don’t get it at all….


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