In working with Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, I have found many interesting ways to use the OS to extend the power of the standard NT OS. Following are some uses for Terminal Server that I have come across in the past few months. These configurations have worked for other companies, but be sure to test them in your environment before you implement them on your production network.
Remote Email Server
Some members of the Terminal Server development team at Microsoft are using the OS as a remote email server. To use Terminal Server in this way, you must run a central mail server (such as Exchange Server) that lets you store your mail-client software and mailbox file in a directory on the Terminal Server system. When you're out of the office, you can simply start a Terminal Server session to read your mail. This approach spares you from waiting for your email files and attachments to download to a local machine via a slow connection. In addition, because your mailbox stays online, it is always current, so you can connect to the Terminal Server system, check only your new messages, and disconnect.
Central Data Store
If your users need access to large reference databases or clip-art stores, and if you run Citrix's MetaFrame, you can use Terminal Server to centralize this data. You can run the databases on a Terminal Server system, and users can access the data via thin-client software. When users find the information they want, they can cut and paste it to an application running on their local machine. You can't implement this solution without MetaFrame because Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) feature set doesn't support cutting and pasting between a PC's Terminal Server session window and local desktop.
Training Aid in Classrooms
If you have set up classrooms for application training, you know that configuring machines for an entire class can be time-consuming. Terminal Server makes classroom setup easier. By placing Windows-based terminal software (instead of a PC OS) on student desktops, you can eliminate the long and tedious process of checking and correcting the PCs' software between courses. Instead, you can restore a backup of the course-setup profiles to the Terminal Server system.
I have successfully used Terminal Server in a small classroom environment. However, before you try to run a classroom off your Terminal Server system, make sure to test the configuration thoroughly. Twenty clients opening Microsoft Word simultaneously will place a heavy burden on even the largest server.
Software Development Platform
To qualify for the Windows 98 and Windows 2000 Logo programs, software products must run on Terminal Server. Because of this restriction, Win32 software developers might benefit from running Terminal Server on their workstations. The Microsoft article "Using Terminal Server as a user workstation" (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb /articles/q190/1/64.asp) provides tips for setting up a Terminal Server workstation.
I was a fan of Novell NetWare before NetWare 4.0 led me to look for a new OS. To this day, I miss NetWare's Rconsole utility, which lets you remotely view and control a server console. NT includes tools that provide most of Rconsole's functionality, but the NetWare utility lets you remotely work at a server as if you were sitting in front of the server, which makes remote administration of servers quick and simple. Terminal Server can provide similar remote-administration functionality. Configure Terminal Server as you would configure NT Server 4.0 on the system. Then, remove the Log on locally user right from the Everyone group. Terminal Server gives this right to the Everyone group by default, but you'll want only administrators to have this permission. Finally, open Control Panel's Network applet. On the Services tab, select the Server service and click Properties. Change the service's Optimization setting to Maximize Throughout for File Sharing. These steps will let your administrators access the server via a Terminal Server Client system as if they were sitting in front of the server.