RemoteFX H.264 Codec Improvements in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2

First published on CloudBlogs on Oct, 31 2013

Hi all, I’m Ayesha Mascarenhas, a Program Manager on the Remote Desktop Virtualization team. I have some exciting news about how we have extended the use of AVC/H.264 in RDP 8.1 to deliver a great remoting experience to resource constrained devices.

With Remote Desktop Protocol version 8, included in Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and also available through an update for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, the RemoteFX adaptive encoding feature was introduced. This enabled us to encode each type of content (text, images, video) most effectively using the best codec for content. In Windows 8, only the video decoder was capable of leveraging AVC/H.264 hardware when available on the client device. The decoders for text and images were CPU based decoders.

With Remote Desktop protocol version 8.1, we have further enhanced RemoteFX adaptive encoding by extending H.264 support to images as well. This enables RemoteFX to offload all image decode processing to an AVC/H.264 hardware module. So both image and video decode is offloaded to the AVC/H.264 hardware module, and only text decode continues to be performed on the CPU. Devices such as Windows Surface RT take advantage of this RemoteFX improvement in Windows 8.1, delivering a great remoting experience in the form of significantly higher frame rates compared to Windows 8.