Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 with RemoteFX

Before Microsoft RemoteFX

microsoft remotefxMicrosoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 operating systems is also applicable to Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RemoteFX is now dominant, leaving Windows Multimedia Redirection (MMR) behind. Lets have a look at MMR. When Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 were released, they introduced 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, it was missing some key points: 

  1. Non-WMP content (such as Flash and QuickTime formats) where not supported. 
  2. MMR needed to be decoded and rendered on the client computer. The result was limited streaming quality according to client machine specifications. 
  3. The bandwidth usage was dependent on the bit rate of the original video. If you had to stream videos with high bit rate, you would need a fast connection, which is not ideal. 
  4. In cases of low bandwidth or high latency networks, the user experience was terrible. The frame rate was low and there was too much frame skipping, resulting in lost data and unstable streaming. 

To address these points, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 introduced Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming. Microsoft RemoteFX uses rendering techniques that provide broad video format support combined with the H.264 codec to provide host-side rendering and redirection. 

The Three Steps of RemoteFX Media Streaming 

  1. A combination of algorithmic techniques, application-provided details, and heuristics are used to detect the areas of the screen that contain video on the server side.
  2. Those areas are then encoded by using either the H.264 codec or the Microsoft RemoteFX Progressive Codec, depending on which codec is available on the client. The audio content is encoded using the AAC codec.
  3. The audio and video content is decoded on the client side, while synchronizing and rendering the content to provide a seamless experience on the target client desktop. 

The above is a simplification of the process to give you an idea of the fundamentals and how it works. 

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 applicationsion. 
  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

No additional configuration is required when enabling Microsoft RemoteFX Media Streaming along with the rest of Remote Desktop Services. Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2012 onwards is designed to make things simpler with out-of-the-box features. When connecting to a virtual desktop that has a Microsoft RemoteFX virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU) installed, the host Hyper-V server must have a non-server core setup. The server core setup does not include media codecs. 

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References: 

Windows Multimedia Redirection: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2009/07/24/multimedia-redirection-improvements-in-windows-7-and-ws2008-r2-part-1/ 

Microsoft RemoteFX vGPU: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/remote/remote-desktop-services/rds-remotefx-vgpu 

History of RDP and RemoteFX: https://www.parallels.com/blogs/ras/remotefx/ 

Explaining Microsoft RemoteFX: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/virtualization/2010/03/17/explaining-microsoft-remotefx/ 

TechNet forums: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverTS/threads