The big enhancement to Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services printing is the new Terminal Services Easy Print feature. There are also some new Group Policy settings as well as some other features to enhance the TS printing experience. So what is Terminal Services Easy Print? Basically, this feature enables users to print from a Terminal Services session to the local or network printers that are configured on the client computer without the need to install drivers on the Terminal Server. The Easy Print feature uses the drivers installed locally on the client system which results in a more consistent printing experience between local and remote sessions. When a user prints from their Terminal Server session to a local printer, they will see the full printer properties dialog box from the local client and they will have access to all printer functionality. The Easy Print universal driver acts as a proxy and redirects all UI calls to the driver on the client. Administrators can also use Group Policy to limit the number of printers redirected to just the default printer which reduces the overhead and the number of printers that must be managed. To use the Terminal Services Easy Print feature on Windows 2008 Terminal Servers, the clients must be running the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 6.1 client and have the .NET Framework 3.0 Service Pack 1 installed. Both of these components are included with Windows Server 2008, and will be available for download for Windows Vista and down-level client operating systems.
The Terminal Services Easy Print feature is implemented in tsprint.dll and works seamlessly in mixed platform environments such as the following:
The document to be printed is rendered as an XPS document on the Terminal Server and then transferred back to the client where it is printed using the local print driver. Since XPS documents can be created and printed on both x86 and x64 platforms and are platform-independent, there are no cross-platform compatibility issues when using Easy Print. The Easy Print process is outlined below:
The process is also shown below:
Because the RDC client, MSTSC.EXE, is a native Win32 application, and the WPF printing infrastructure uses managed (.Net Framework) API's, a managed wrapper was created to support Terminal Services Easy Print. When a document is printed from a remote desktop session using the Easy Print driver on the Terminal Server, the RDC client calls the managed wrapper, TSWPFWRP.EXE, to assist with processing the print job on the client. TSWPFWRP.EXE is only used for Easy Print redirected printer functionality and is only invoked when printing.
An important note - for any client computers that do not support the Terminal Services Easy Print feature, only client printers that have a corresponding driver on the Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server can be redirected in a Terminal Server session.
That wraps up today's post. Tomorrow we'll have an overview of the RDP Client. Until next time ...
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