RDS interoperability on Win12, Win12R2 and Win08R2?

In my previous post i mentioned configuring a Win12R2 Remote Desktop GateWay (RDGW) and Remote Desktop Web Access (RDWA). I used a role based scenario because i wanted a Win12R2 RDGW/RDWA deployment with a Win08R2 RDSH server.

But i can’t say if this is a supported scenario because i can’t find much resources about the interoperability of the different OS versions. Personally i think this is odd because most of the IT Pro’s i know look at the release documentation when a new product is released and want to know how to integrate it in existing environments.

All i’ve found about supported scenario’s is from the RDS blog post here. The blogpost is actually about in-place-upgrades, so installing an upgrade on an existing OS to upgrade it to a new OS. My take on in-place-upgrades is avoid them if possible, but that’s another subject. Back to the interoperability issue: In the blogpost there is mention of;

  • “Windows Server 2012 RD Web Access will work with a Windows Server 2012 R2 deployment”
  • we support Windows Server 2012 RD Licensing in a Windows Server 2012 R2 deployment.
  • “We support Windows Server 2012 RD Gateway in a Windows Server 2012 R2 deployment”

There is also mention of VDI hosts interoperability, but i’m not very interested in VDI because i think they are for specialised use cases, so if you want to know about that you have to dig the info up yourself.

A collegae of mine found this forum thread which a MVP states that interoperability between Win08R2 and Win12 is not supported. Having said that, the same forum thread points to an article of Ryan Mangans who apparently created the same blogpost as me.. :mrgreen:  But he also makes a point it might not be a supported scenario: “Point to note: I cannot confirm that this is supported, so i would recommend contacting Microsoft before deploying to a production environment.”

If this is really true (which i suspect), that means that a client of us (3800 external users) has to the following issues;

  1. RDS Capacity.
    They need to build a complete new RDS environment from scratch. This means having at least some extra capacity to build a new RDCB (ok, not a big deal), new (HA) RDGW hosts (they currently have 4 RDGW physical hosts, so this is an issue), new RDSH hosts (they have physical RDSH hosts, so an even larger issue). Even if we would virtualise it all, we would need (big) new hosts just to be able to start migrating users.
  2. First and Second line Support Capacity.
    All our users are on unmanaged clients and connect exclusively through RDGW. This means we have to use different access URL’s for the old and new environment and have to warn our (3800!) users that they need to access https://rdgwNEW.domain.com or https://rdgwOL.domain.com. We could just point our URL to the new environment, but that means we need to have to have 200% capacity for a short while, which means another 2 racks of servers! And i know the first line support team (not very technical) of 20 people is going to have a hard time asking our users on which environment has which issues, which in turn floods the second line support. This means: more supportcalls.
  3. Third line support Capacity.
    Supporting 2 environments while migrating users from one environment to another, try to do this for 3800 unmanaged clients!! All our OS and application updates need to be applied to both environments during the migration.
  4. For use cases which Citrix is needed (think of corporate customers who require Citrix), we need to setup a XenDesktop7 environment as well. Thank god Citrix does support mixing the OS’es, so we can build Win08R2 hosts in a XenDesktop 7 environment, you can find details here.

We actually did this while migrating from Win08 to Win08R2 RDS with 400 users and it was a nightmare (also because 32bits and 64 bits profiles can’t be mixed). I’m wondering if upgrading in this way to Win12(R2) RDS justifies the cost of the work.
So my plea is this: RDS Team, please consider rolling upgrades!

I’m gonna contact some of the RDS MVP’s to ask;

  1. If they can confirm mixing Win08R2 hosts and Win12R2 is not supported.
  2. Ask them to talk to the RDS team to make it supported to allow rolling updates.

Update: I got an reply of the RDS Team that indeed mixing Win08r2 hosts and Win12R2 is NOT supported, look it up here.

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