Changes in RDP over UDP behavior in Windows 10 and Windows 2016

Introduction

With Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 (and Windows 7 RDP client 8.0) with some updates we got support for RDP to use UDP for data transport. This gave us a great experience over less reliable to even rather bad networks.

Anecdote: I was in an area of the world where there was no internet access available bar a very bad and lousy Wi-Fi connection at the shop/cafeteria. That was just fine, I wasn’t there for the great Wi-Fi access at all. But I needed to check e-mail and that wasn’t succeeding in any way, the network reliability was just too bad. I got the job done by using RDP to connect to a workstation back home (across the ocean on another continent) and check my e-mail there. Not a super great experience but UDP made it possible where nothing else worked. I was impressed.

Changes in RDP over UDP behavior in Windows 10 and Windows 2016

When connecting to Windows Server 2016 or a Windows 10 over a RD Gateway we see 1 HTTP and only one UDP connection being established for a session. We used to see 1 HTTP and 2 UDP connections per session with Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Server 2012(R2)

It doesn’t matter if your client is running RDP 8.0 or RDP 10.0 or whether the RD Gateway itself is running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016. The only thing that does matter is the target that you are connecting to.

Also, this has nothing to do with a Firewall or so acting up, we’re testing with and without with the same IP etc. Let’s take a quick look at some examples and compare.

When connecting to Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 we see that 1 UDP connection is established.

In total, there are 8 events logged for a successful connection over the RDG Gateway.

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You’ll find 2 event ID 302 events (1 for a HTTP connection and 1 for a UDP connection) as well as 1 Event ID 205 events for the UDP proxy usage.

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In the RD Gateway manager, monitoring we can see 1 HTTP and the 1 UDP connections for one RDP Session to a Windows 2016 Server.

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When connecting to Windows 8/8.1 or Windows Server 2012 (R2) we see that 2 UDP connections are established.

In total, there are 10 events logged for a successful connection over the RDG Gateway:

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You’ll find 3 event ID 302 events (1 for a HTTP connection and 2 for a UDP connection) as well as 2 Event ID 205 events for the UDP proxy usage.

In the RD Gateway manager, monitoring we can see 1 HTTP and the 2 UDP connections for one RDP Session to a Windows 2012 R2 Server.

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So, RDP wise something seems to have changed. But I do not know the story and why.

In place upgrade of RD Gateway farm nodes to Windows Server 2016 removes the Loopback adapter for UDP load balancing

Here’s a quick heads up to anyone who’s involved in upgrading existing Windows Server 2012 (R2) RD Gateway farms to Windows Server 2016.

In my recent experiences the in place upgrade (VMs) works rather well. Just make sure the netlogon service is set to automatic (a know issue and a fix is coming) after you upgrade and install all updates. Also make sure that you don’t have this issue

Windows Time Service settings are not preserved during an in-place upgrade to Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 Version 1607

There is however one networks specific issue specific you’ll need to deal with when leveraging UDP with a load balancer via Direct Server Return.

When you have a RD Gateway farm you load balance it with a (preferably high available) load balancer like a Kemp Loadmaster. I have described this in these blogs/videos Load balancing Hyper-V Workloads With High To Continuous Availability With a KEMP Loadmaster and Quick Demo Video Of Site Failover With KEMP Loadmaster Global Balancing

What you also do is load balance both HTTPS (TCP, port 443) and UDP (port 3391). For UDP we use Direct Server Return ((DSR) as described in my blog post Load balancing UDP for a RD Gateway farm with a KEMP Loadmaster. This requires a properly configured loopback adapter.

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During the in place upgrade to Windows Server 2016 this loopback adapter is removed form the nodes. So you need to add it back just a described in my original blog post. Normally it will find the settings for it in the registry but it’s bets you check it all out as I’ve found that the loopback adapter did have “Register this connection”s address in DNS” enabled as well as NETBIOS over TCP/IP. So, per my blog post, check it all to make sure. Other than that, after installing all the Windows Server 2016 updates all works smoothly after an in place upgrade.

Hope this helps someone out there!

Don’t Forget To Leverage The Benefits of RD Gateway On Hyper-V & RDP 8/8.1

So you upgraded your TS Gateway virtual machine on W2K8(R2) to RDS Gateway on W2K12(R2) too make sure you get the latest and the greatest functionality and cut off any signs of technology debt way in advance. Perhaps you were inspired by my blog series on how to do this, and maybe you jumped through the x86 to x64 bit hoop whilst at it. Well done.

Now when upgrading or migrating from W2K8(R2) a lot of people forget about some of the enhancements in W2K12(R2). This is especially true of you don’t notice much by doing so. That’s why I see people forget about UDP. Why? Well things will keep working as they did before Windows Server 2012 RDS Gateway over HTTP or over RPC-HTTP (legacy clients). I have seen deployments where both the Windows and the perimeter firewall rules to allow UDP over 3391 were missing. Let alone that UDP Transport over port 3391 was enabled in the transport settings.  But then you miss out on the benefits it offers (a better user experience over less than great network connections and with graphics) ass well on those of that ever more capable thingy called RemoteFX, if you use that.

For you that don’t know yet:  HTTP and UDP protocols are both used preferably by RD Gateway and are more efficient than RPC over HTTP which is better for scaling and experience under low bandwidth and bad connectivity conditions. When HTTP transport channels are up (in & outgoing traffic), two UDP side channels are set up that can be used to provide both reliable (RDP-UDP-R) and best-effort (RDP-UDP-L) delivery of data. UDP also leveraged SSL via the RD gateway because is uses Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS). For more info RD Gateway Capacity Planning in Windows Server 2012. Further more it proves you have no reason not to virtualize this workload and I concur!

So why not set it up!?  So check you firewall rules on the RD Gateway Server and set the rules accordingly. Do the same for your perimeter firewalls or any other in between your users and your RD Gateway.

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Under properties of your RS Gateway server you need to make sure UDP is enabled and listening on the needed IP address(es)

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A client who connects over your RDS Gateway server, Windows Server 2012(R2) that is, and checks the network connection properties (click the “wireless NIC” like icon in the connection bar) sees the following: UDP is enabled. imageIf they don’t see UDP as enabled and they aren’t running Windows 8 or 8.1 (or W2K12R2) they can upgrade to RDP 8.1 on windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2! When they connect to a Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 2008R2  machine make sure you read this blog post Get the best RDP 8.0 experience when connecting to Windows 7: What you need to know as it contains some great information on what you need to do to enable RDP 8/8.1 when connecting to Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 2008 R2:

  1. “Computer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsRemote Desktop ServicesRemote Desktop Session HostRemote Session EnvironmentEnable Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0” should be set to “Enabled”
  2. “Computer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsRemote Desktop ServicesRemote Desktop Session HostConnectionsSelect RDP Transport Protocols” should be set to “Use both UDP and TCP” => Important: After the above 2 policy settings have been configured, restart your computer.
  3. Allow port traffic: If you’re connecting directly to the Windows 7 system, make sure that traffic is allowed on TCP and UDP for port 3389. If you’re connecting via Remote Desktop Gateway, make sure you use RD Gateway in Windows Server 2012 and allow TCP port 443 and UDP port 3391 traffic to the gateway

Cool you’ve done it and you verify it works. Under monitoring in the RD Gateway Manager you can see 3 connections per session: one is HTTP and the two others are UDP.

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Life is good. But if you want to see the difference really well demonstrated try to connect to Windows 7 SP1 computer with RDP8 & TCP/UDP disabled and play a YouTube video, then to the same with RDP8 & TCP/UDP enabled, the difference is rather impressive. Likewise if you leverage RemoteFX in VM. The difference is very clear in experience, just try it! While you’re doing this look a the UDP “Kilobytes Sent” stats (refresh the monitoring tab, you’ll see UDP being put to work when playing a video on in your RDP session.

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Microsoft Listens To Customers & Adds UDP Notification Support Back to Exchange 2010

Well, after almost 14 months of deploying Exchange 2010 and tweaking the Outlook 2003 settings via GPO’s to give users an acceptable experience Microsoft adds support for User Datagram Protocol (UDP) notification functionality back into Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. By doing so they recognize that a lot of businesses & organizations will be using Outlook 2003 for a while and that not all of them where happy to deal with the way Outlook 2003 functions with Exchange 2010. More information on the UDP issue can be found here http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2009942 (In Outlook 2003, e-mail messages take a long time to send and receive when you use an Exchange 2010 mailbox). Now most my customers use cached mode where possible and a GPO Setting to reduce the Maximum Polling Frequency registry entry to 5 seconds helped. But there are places where cached mode is not an option (Terminal Services) or people don’t accept this change in behavior and go with Outlook 2007 instead of 2010  or even choose to deploy Exchange 2007 over 2010. All because of this dropping of the UDP notification support.

Now this functionality will be back with in Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 Roll-Up 3 (SP1 RU3).  Good news for people dealing with Outlook 2003 and Exchange 2010. Less good news for the people dealing with the GUI bug that Exchange 2010 SP1 introduced where the Exchange Management Console does not show all database copies after upgrading to Exchange 2010 SP1. This is set to be fixed in Roll-Up 3 but to get the UDP support back they adjusted the release schedule for the E2K10 Sp1 Roll-Up 3, which is now expect to be released in March 2011. So we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that fix. As you noted you need to be running Exchange 2010 SP1 to get this backward compatibility support for outlook 2003.

Read this announcement on the Exchange Team Blog: UDP Notification Support Re-added to Exchange 2010