Microsoft RemoteFX on Windows Server and Windows 10 | Parallels

RemoteFX is a set of technologies that enhance the visual experience of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), thus allowing users to experience rich media support, highly synchronized audio and graphics, making it feel like they are using a locally executing desktop when in fact they are accessing the desktop remotely. The intellectual idea behind RemoteFX was developed by Calista Technologies, which was acquired by Microsoft and developed to create the current, final version of RemoteFX. 

Microsoft RemoteFX

Microsoft RemoteFX brought graphics hardware support to Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) when it was released as part of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 back in 2011.

Among the innovations that RemoteFX introduced was RemoteFX vGPU, which enabled hardware acceleration in VMs by allowing them to tap physical graphic processing units (GPUs) and presenting them as virtualized GPUs. Others include RemoteFX USB Redirection, which allowed peripheral USB devices to be used with VMs, and the RemoteFX Callista codec, which allowed the use of high-fidelity video and text in VMs.

Another major feature was Windows Multimedia Redirection (MMR), which was used to stream multimedia content using Windows Media Player (WMP) through a remote session. The media stream was redirected to the client through MMR, and it was suitable for supported video formats on the local area network (LAN). However, MMR was missing some key points, including the following:

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 led to further improvements in the major RemoteFX features. It also introduced other innovations, including RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics, RemoteFX for WAN, RemoteFX Multi-Touch, and RemoteFX Media Redirection AP.

RemoteFX was further improved in the subsequent Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Enterprise releases. Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming replaced MMR entirely, which still did not support all types of video content. On the other hand, RemoteFX Media Streaming combined broad video format support with the H.264 codec to provide host-side rendering and redirection.

Benefits of Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming

  1. Detection and redirection of all media content, including but not limited to Silverlight, Flash, QuickTime, and HTML5 videos. Users have a consistent experience regardless of video formats or video applications. 
  2. When compared to RDP in Windows 7, Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming consumes up to 90% less bandwidth. The actual difference in bandwidth depends on the size and frame rate of the original video. 
  3. Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming leverages network auto-detection and the client capabilities to dynamically adapt the encoding bitrate and frame rate to provide the optimum user experience. 
  4. The user experience is excellent even on WAN networks due to adaptive media streaming and Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming leveraging the User Datagram Protocol (UDP).  

Configuration Requirements

RemoteFX in Windows Server 2012 and higher versions were designed to make things simpler with out-of-the-box features. When connecting to a virtual desktop that had RemoteFX virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU) installed, the host Hyper-V server must have a non-server core setup without any media codecs. Additional configuration is not required when enabling RemoteFX Media Streaming along with the rest of Remote Desktop Services.

Other requirements include:

It is recommended to use graphics cards designed to run on professional workstations, although any GPU with OpenGL and OpenCL functionality and DirectX 11.0 is supported. The RemoteFX virtual graphics adapter is only supported by Enterprise editions of Windows.

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Windows Multimedia Redirection:

Microsoft RemoteFX vGPU:

History of RDP and RemoteFX:

Explaining RemoteFX:

TechNet forums: