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What is RDP?

Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) was designed to provide remote display and input capabilities for desktop or application running on Windows operating system. RDP is based on T-120 suite of communication protocols.

RDP implements its own video driver which is used to transform rendering information into network packets. Display information is then compressed and delivered over the network in a most efficient way. On a client display information is parsed and rendered according to RDP protocol specification. Graphics information received over RDP is converted into Windows graphics device interface (GDI) calls. Similarly keyboard and mouse inputs are captured on a client and delivered to the server using RDP protocol. On a server dedicated keyboard and mouse drivers are responsible for processing and executing RDP input commands.

Certain parameters like display resolution, color depth, custom graphics features (desktop background, font smoothing, desktop composition, displaying windows content when dragging, menu and window animation, visual styles, persistent bitmap caching) could be customized for each RDP connection to deliver the most efficient connection experience required by user. Customization of parameters allows RDP to deliver smooth experience even on slower network connections.

Local resources like printers, clipboard, audio could be connected to corresponding drivers on a server computer to enable remote printing, clipboard copy and paste between local and remote computers and remote audio reproduction.

RDP could be used to connect to a full featured desktop of remote operating system or only to a specific application running on a remote host. Connecting to a specific application allows limiting scope of user access permissions and making sure that user won’t be able to do changes to underlying operating system. RDP connection could be customized to start a specific remote application when connection to remote server is established. This feature makes it easier to build and deploy customized RDP solutions for enterprises.

Most popular RDP implementation is Microsoft Remote Desktop Client which is used to connect to a remote Windows operating system. Microsoft Remote Desktop Client supports all of the RDP features described above. Besides it there are RDP implementations from other vendors which includes Citrix, Google, HP, IBM, VMWare and many more.