Do we need to upgrade to Windows Server 2022 for RDS (Citrix)

Updated 18-11-2021:

Citrix released CVAD version 2109 where all the know issues in 2106 are fixed, even Microsoft changed updated their documentation and is supporting Windows Server 2022 for FSLogix. Take a look here for more information regarding FSLogix.

Microsoft released Windows server 2022 (Version 21H2) at the beginning of September 2021. This version of Windows is a so-called Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). An LTSC version gets five years of support and another five years of extended support, where a Semi-Annual Channel only receives two to three years of support. Besides the more extended support, an LTSC version only receives security and regular updates. In other words, during these ten years, there’s no extra functionality added.

What’s in Windows Server 2022 for Remote Desktop Services (RDS)?

Windows Server 2022 adds multiple improvements for “Advanced multi-layered security”, “Hybrid capabilities with Azure” and, “Flexible application platform”. Sadly for RDS, there are no improvements announced, mainly because Microsoft is investing in their Windows 10 and the upcoming Windows 11 multi-user in Azure. As for the previous versions of RDS, we rely on Third Parties that bring added value to keep up with the user’s wishes and demands with the changing market. Third Parties like Citrix and VMware are helping the IT admins to achieve this.

Citrix

Citrix has a Day 1 support for Windows Server 2022 with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (VAD) in version 2106 Current Release (CR). This version has a couple of known issues, which probably they are fixing in the next release. Look here for the know issues! With Citrix Hypervisor (Current version 8.2), no official support is announced for Windows Server 2022. They are probably announcing this in the upcoming cumulative update (CU).

Microsoft

Microsoft isn’t supporting its own Microsoft 365 apps (previously called Office 365) on Windows Server 2022. They only support Microsoft 365 Apps on Windows Server 2016- and 2019-editions. Microsoft is supporting this until October 2025 for these server OS’es. When using Microsoft 365 Apps, it’s not advisable to upgrade to Windows Server 2022 for your RDS or Citrix environment. If you are using Office 2019, they are supporting this on Windows Server 2022.

FSLogix

Besides Citrix VAD and Microsoft 365 Apps, FSlogix is a commonly used user profile solution in RDS and Citrix environments in the EUC market. The latest version of FSlogix 2105 doesn’t officially support Windows Server 2022. When depending on FSlogix, you need to be aware that this component also isn’t supported yet. Previously I stated that FSlogix 2105 isn’t supported on Windows Server 2022, I did read this somewhere but can’t find the document any longer. Looking at the FSlogix Overview site, they now support FSlogix on all Microsoft Supported Operating Systems.

NVIDIA

A GPU is one of the essential components in a Citrix Environment. More and more applications are using graphics and rely on a GPU. NVIDIA is supporting Windows Server 2022 as of version 13.0 of their vGPU software. Version 13.X is just like Windows Server 2022, a Long-Term Support Branch (LTSB). Only the NVIDIA support isn’t that long as from Microsoft. NVIDIA is supporting version 13.X until August 2024. Currently, version 13.0 only supports Windows Server bare-metal installations ore when using virtualized on VMWare ESXi. As Citrix Hypervisor currently isn’t supporting Windows Server 2022, NVIDIA can’t support this.

Conclusion

Looking at RDS, Windows Server 2022 doesn’t have any improvements. Knowing this and the lag of support from Microsoft 365 Apps, there isn’t any reason to currently migrate to this version of the OS. When you need to upgrade your older environment, the current advice is to upgrade to Windows Server 2019. This version of the OS supports all most-used components. When there are any changes in support from most-used components, I’ll update the article.

1. Support until October 2025.
2. Support using version 2106 with some known issues.
3. Using Bare-Metal or VMWare ESX 6.7U3 and up.

Reset Windows Rearm count

When working with Machine Creation Services we discovered that the Clients all have the same CMID. A different CMID is needed to activate using KMS services. We searched for a solution and everyone mentioned rearming the machine, but then we received the message that we can’t rearm. We then searched for a solution but everyone was pointing out to set the Skiprearm to 1. When testing this we discovered that the CMID keeps the same after rearming the Windows machine.

We discovered that the “Remaining Windows Rearm Count” was 0. which means that when you set SkipRearm then you don’t rearm the machine. Knowing this we searched how to reset the Rearm count and found an article that explained how we could reset the rearm count. http://www.daniel-mitchell.com/blog/reset-windows-7-rearm-count/

To do this follow the below instructions:

  1. Create reset.bat on C:\
  2. add the following code:

    reg load HKLM\MY_SYSTEM “%~dp0Windows\System32\config\system”
    reg delete HKLM\MY_SYSTEM\WPA /f
    reg unload HKLM\MY_SYSTEM

  3. Restart your machine to repair mode using the F8 key.
  4. In the System Recovery Options menu, select Command Prompt.
  5. Now type in D:\reset.bat. The C-drive is used as a recovery partition.
  6. If the script is executed successfully, you should get the message “The operation completed successfully”.
  7. Reboot your machine.

Now the rearm count is reset to 5. You can check this using slmgr /dlv.

rearm count

Now set make sure the Skiprearm is set to 0 at the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform

Now the Image is ready to deploy and the KMS server will receive different CMID’s from the servers.

New Policy Settings in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8

With Windows server 2012 and Windows 8 Microsoft added some new features, they also created the proper Group Policy configuration options for this. With Windows server 2012 and Windows 8 they added 160 new items which are only compatible with Windows server 2012, Windows 8 or Windows RT. They added a total of 350 items which are compatible with earlier versions and the new Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.

You can download the complete list of available Group Policy items here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=25250

MDT Create Deployment Share and add OS Source Files (Part 2)

In the provious post I explained how to install MDT and install/updates the required services. In this post I explain how to create Deployment Shares and add the OS source files and patches.

Create Deployment Share

First of al we have to create a Deployment share where the OS files are saved. Follow the steos below to create the Deployment Share.

1. Right click the “Deployment Shares” in the “Deployment Workbench” and select “New Deployment Share”

Create Deployment Share

 2. Select the Path where all the files for deployment will be stored.

Path

 3. Specify the Share name you like to use, I left it default.

UNC Path

4. Give the share a Description, also here I used the default value.

Installing MDT 2012 Update 1 (Part 1)

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012 Update 1 it’s possible to deploy Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2010 and 365, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2008 R2 in addition to deployment of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP within your organization.

MDT is supported on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2012. To start using MDT download it here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=25175.

 After downloading the MSI file start the installation, it’s basicly a next,next,finish installation.

1) On the Welcome Screen click Next.

Welcome Screen MDT

2) On the End User License Agreement, Accept the license terms and click Next.

End User License Agreement MDT

3) Because I work in a test environment I don’t want to use the Customer Experience Improvement Program, so I select “I don’t want to join the program at this time” and click Next.

Customer Experience Improvement Program MDT

4) I install all the features and click Next.

Active Directory-Based Activation

In  previous post we Installed VAMT and then added licenses and devices, now we will create the possibility to use Active Directory-Based Activation. To use the Active Directory-Based Activation you need at least one Windows Server 2012 domain controller.

Installing Active Directory-Based Activation

To use AD-Based Activation you need to install the Volume Activation Services Server role. This can be done using the Server Manager. In the Server Manager click on Manage and then click Add Roles and Features.

Select Role-based of feature-based installation and click Next.

ADBA - Install (1)

Select the server which you want to install the Volume Activation Services on from the server pool and click next.

Select the Volume Activation Services in the Server Roles screen and click Next.

ADBA - Install (2)

A new screen (pop-up) will appear which displays the required features just select Add Features.

VAMT 3.0 Adding licenses and manage host (part 2)

In my previous post we installed VAMT 3.0 and created the database.

In this post we will add MAK and KMS keys and we will add some host to monitor the servers/clients to see if the activation is successful. Because you need at least 5 Servers or 25 Clients before KMS keys will work we are using MAK keys in this post.

When you opened VAMT and are connected to the database you will see the following screen.

VAMT 3.0 Overview

As you can see there are now products discovered or License keys installed.

To install the license keys “Right click” on the “Product keys” and select “Add product keys..“, then add the license keys into the box and click on “Add Key(s)” when you like to add multiple keys use a separate line for the different keys.

After the key is verified it will show up in the product keys overview.

VAMT Add Key

VAMT Keys

VAMT 3.0 Installation (part 1)

In this series I’m writing a 2 part article about how to install and configure VAMT.

When you want to manage your MAK or KMS licenses activation within your organization you can use Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) version 3.0. Whit VAMT 3.0 you can add licenses, view activations and more. VAMT is part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows® 8. 

Before you can use VAMT you have to download it first at the following location: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30652

VAMT can be installed in the following Operating Systems:

  • Windows® 8
  • Windows® 7
  • Windows Server® 2012
  • Windows Server® 2008 R2
  • Windows Vista®
  • Windows Server® 2008

When using VAMT 3.0 you need an SQL server, when you don’t have an SQL server you can select the SQL 2012 Express to be installed on your system. The user who is installing VAMT needs DbCreator rights on the SQL server which you like to use. All other users which want to connect to the database need to be db_owner of the database used to install VAMT.

When installing ADK you need to specify the location the files are stored, in the screenshot below you can select to install or just download to install it on a separate computer, we will choose to install.

ADK Specify location to install

Change vDisk from MAK to KMS

When using MAK on a provisioned vDisk with multiple versions and you need to change the activation to KMS, it’s important to first create a Merge of the version to a now Base image. This has to be done because you need to change the Microsoft Volume Licensing option within the vDisk properties and dis can only be done on al the versions and only when the vDisk isn’t locked.

Important: you need at least 25 Windows 7 clients or 5 Windows 2008 R2 host using KMS to get it work.

After creating a Merge base, copy the VHD and PVP file and rename them to a appropriate name, in this example the new name is “XenAppKMS”, after renaming import the vDisk into the Provisioning Services Console and add it to a test or maintenance device.

 Imported XenAppKMS