Remote Desktop to Console and Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP1


I have a vendor that supposedly had a product running under console. When I got in, it was not there. Asked vendor what account he was running it under. Same account. That is strange. Tried to start it and it erroed out because it was still running. I shuit down the instance and get it running. Vendor gets in and he cannot find the app running under his console session. Confirm vendor is logged in with /console flag. Yes.
 
Bang! Bang! Bang! That is the sound of my head hitting the wall over and over again. 
 
The problem turns out to be a Microsoft problem. Yeah, I know people blame Microsoft for things over and over again, but this one really is. Honest.
 
To get to console in XP and Vista (at least XP prior to SP3), you use:
 
%SystemRoot%system32mstsc.exe /console
 
Apparently, the SP3 team did not like this, so they changed it in Remote Desktop Client 6.1, which ships with SP3 (there was also a "patch" prior to SP3 that caused this same headache as well). To get to console, there is a workaround. Type in
 
%SystemRoot%system32mstsc.exe /admin
 
Minor? Perhaps. But it is not well documented so one can proactively adjust. There are the normal reactive docs, of course:
 
Connections from the Remote Desktop Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in on computers that have RDC 6.1 installed do not connect to the console session or admin session of the server.

Workaround
To work around this problem, use the Remote Desktop Connection 6.1 application with the /admin flag to connect to the console session of Windows Server 2003 computers or to the admin session of Windows Server 2008 computers.
For more information about the deprecation of /admin in RDC 6.1, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

 
This has the lovely advice:
 
Scenario
You type mstsc.exe /console at the command prompt, and then you connect to a remote server that does not have Terminal Server installed.
 
Behavior
The /console switch is silently ignored. You will be connected to a session to remotely administer the server.
 
According to the documentation, if you type in /console, it is ignored. No message. Nothing. Okay, Microsoft, this is stupid!!! Really stupid!!! If you can’t give me a message, make the call fail with a message I have to use /admin instead. Don’t just let me log on, thinking I am at console when I am not. Yeah, I can run the machine this way, but since windows gives me no clue I am at console, I will only find out if I touch a windows process at console and find I cannot touch it.
 
What were you guys thinking? What if I decided to change an interface on one of my products and figured I would just deprecate a flag. To do this, I essentially changed interface behavior, but instead of actually changing the behavior in a way that informed the user, I kept him in the dark by IGNORING the original flag. This is as insane as dropping a routine on an interface that is published and even more dangerous. I am in awe.
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg
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