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Remote Apps vs Remote Desktops

Rob Waggoner

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Through Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, both RemoteApp and Remote Desktops are available solutions in Windows Server. Previously I discussed an overview of these solutions. Here I will talk about choosing one solution or the other. 

Here is an overview of RDS and the differences between RemoteApp and Remote Desktops.

For a quick summary recap:

  • RemoteApp provides the ability to deliver applications remotely. The application looks like any other application running on the end users’ device. 
  • Remote Desktops is the ability to deliver a full desktop experience. Full desktop delivery allows you to provide a “new” virtual desktop experience that the user connects to for all their work.

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 Which do I choose?

It depends on your end users and the context of delivery.  Which one is right for you and your users? Well, the answer could be both, this is not a this or that decision, because both can be delivered at the same time.  And both can accomplish the goal of delivering a consistent solution to end users, regardless of device, whether it is iOS, Android, Windows or even a Thin Client device.

Choose Remote Desktops
If you want to provide a Full Managed Desktop solution to your end users, Remote Desktop is probably the best choice.  This allows IT to control everything from the application installs, the security policies, and even where the data is stored.

Choose RemoteApp
If you just want to deliver a specific application to your end users, RemoteApp is probably adequate to meet that need. RemoteApp delivers only the specific application to the end users device. The application still “runs” in the cloud, but the user experience is delivered to the end users’ device.  This allows you to deliver consistent application(s) to your disparate devices, while allowing users to maintain the same end user experience their native device provides.

But as I stated above, both can be delivered at the same time! I’ve seen companies deliver the full desktop to some of their users, think task workers; while delivering just specific applications to specialized areas of the company like Engineering or development groups that have very specific resource needs.  This way you can give these groups the specialized resources they need without business applications conflicting with those applications.

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