Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2 - RDS - Attempt to unblock the session as a user

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When you work in an office and a program becomes unstable, you often find how to solve the problem more or less easily.

For example :

  • closing the program before it's too late
  • trying several times to close the program until it ends up disappearing
  • by closing your Windows session and reopening it. Since the closing of the session inevitably leads to the cessation of open programs currently
  • or forcing the restart of the computer (which is not recommended) if you have no other solution
  1. Explain how terminal technology works
  2. Close your remote session as user
  3. Close your remote session as user (alternative method)
  4. Close a remote program from its physical computer
  5. Conclusion

However, this will never work with RemoteApp programs, desktops provided via Remote Desktop Services (RDS) web access, and all application virtualization solutions (ex : Citrix XenApp) and / or desktops (ex : Citrix XenDesktop) based on Microsoft Terminal Server technology.

1. Explain how terminal technology works

Indeed, as a user, you probably don't know (since IT is not usually your job when you work in an office), but the desktops and/or applications of this type that you use in this case actually run on a remote server and not on your computer.
In addition, the server may be outside your company (and even in another country) without you knowing it.

This means that shutting down your computer's programs or restarting it will not change the state of your desktop and/or your remote applications.

Once you reconnect to your desktop and/or applications, they will reappear in the state in which you left them.

2. Close your remote session as user

If the configuration of the remote server allows it, you may be able to close your session (and therefore also programs that only you have opened) thanks to a little trick.
Note that this is safe and works with all virtualized programs using Terminal Server technology (ie, RDS, Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, even if they are behind a Citrix NetScaler Gateway).

To begin, look for the On-Screen Keyboard program in the Windows Start menu (or modern interface).

Click on the RemoteApp program that is open (in our case : Microsoft Excel), then click on the "Ctrl + Alt + Del" keys on the visual keyboard.

Warning : this shortcut will be sent to the server only if you use it from the visual keyboard. Indeed, if you use it on your physical keyboard, it's your physical computer that will intercept this combination of keys.

If the server security policy allows you to, you will have access to the Windows Server security screen.
This proves that this program runs on a remote server and not on your physical computer.

To close your session, click on the "Sign out" option (if it's available).
Wait a few seconds and this window will disappear.

If the "Disconnect" option is not available, go to the next step of this tutorial.

Wait 10 seconds and reconnect via the usual connection method.
For example :

The desired program will start again.

And will reappear without problem.

3. Close your remote session as user (alternative method)

As explained in the previous step, run the Windows "On-Screen Keyboard" program.
Then, click on the RemoteApp program that is open (in our case : Microsoft Excel), then click on the "Ctrl + Alt + Del" keys on the visual keyboard.

This menu will appear.
If you see the "Task Manager" option, click on that one.
Then, click on "More details" (bottom left).

In the task manager, go to the "Users" tab.
Then, at the bottom right, click on the "Sign out" button.

This will cause your session to shut down on the remote server, as well as closing RemoteApp programs launched on this remote session.
This is quite practical because it allows you to close the crashed program without having to find a way to contact the system administrator who manages the server in your company.

Confirm the logoff by clicking "Log Off user".

Programs that you have opened on your remote session will disappear from your screen and you will simply need to reconnect via the classic method.
Restart the desired program (in our case : Microsoft Excel 2013).

The program reappears without problem.