Remote desktop from a MAC to a Windows application

So I have a situation where I have a custom designed application that can only run on a windows PC.  However I have Mac users that need to access this application and be able to print locally to their computer from my application.  My guess is there is only one way to accomplish this and that is for me to setup a server that hosts my application and then allow a remote desktop connection.  My question is: what types of remote desktop connections exist, if any free ones also.  

Also, is there an alternative solution to the issue I presented above.  Again, I would like the user to be able to print locally to their computer from my application.
al4629740Asked:
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
If one user at a time you can do that using any windows 7 computer or newer, using port forwarding, with no additional licensing costs.  The remote desktop client, for PCs or MACs is free.

However if you need multiple, simultaneous users, you will need to build a remote desktop server (formally called a terminal server).  With versions 2012 R2 and newer this means you also need a domain controller.  Thus you would need need 2 server licenses, a server or user CAL for each user connecting, and an RDS CAL for each user.  If you virtualize the servers you can purchase a single server license which will allow for 2 virtual servers, but you still need all CALs.  It is a substantial investment as CALs are sold in packs of 5. Thus you would be looking roughly at a minimum of $2,500 just in licenses.
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al4629740Author Commented:
Is there any other simpler option.  Anything with Citrix?
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Citrix is on top of Windows Server RDP/Server CALS so it is more expensive.
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Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Have you considered installing a virtual Windows OS on these MACs?

Do you have access to the source code? Is it a .NET application?
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al4629740Author Commented:
Vb6
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
We have reached a time when hardware is inexpensive and the major costs are software (O/S and other) and licenses.  You can do the same thing in the cloud without the hardware capital outlay, but the licensing costs are the same as well as a monthly fee for the virtual services.
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Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Have you considered installing a virtual Windows OS on these MACs?

Do you have access to the source code?
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al4629740Author Commented:
I have access to the source code in vb6 of the application
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al4629740Author Commented:
virtual windows is an idea, but I would have to do that with each user.  I'm guessing I could use OracleBox if that works on Mac.
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Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
This expert suggested creating a Gigs project.
How complicated is the application? Maybe worth the investment to move to a web application?

Perhaps done as a gig?
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al4629740Author Commented:
Which web app were you suggesting?
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al4629740Author Commented:
Rob,

Pretend I had 30 people accessing my server, what would I exactly need?  What exactly would I need to build a "Terminal Server"

1 - Windows Server Standard
30 - Windows Remote Desktop Services - User CAL
1- Windows Server - Device CAL
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You would need:
2 server standard licenses (one as a terminal server and one as a domain controller)
30 user CALs
30 RDS CALs

If by any chance it is something like a call centre where users share a common computer, you can use Device CALs instead of User CALs, 1 per device, and 1 RDS CAL for each device.

As mentioned if you virtualize the servers, one server standard license allows for a Host and 2 virtual servers.  That has changed a bit with Server 2016, it is based on the number of processor cores, but likely effectively the same for you.

Also if 30 simultaneous users you would need a server with a reasonable amount of horsepower, especially RAM.
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al4629740Author Commented:
I’m guessing no more than 8-10 at a time will be on
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al4629740Author Commented:
Does that change anything?
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
the # of users only affects the load on the server not the licensing requirements
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
I agree with David.  You may not need a server with as much "horsepower" but licensing is the same.

Thus, you are likely looking at roughly $13,000 in licensing.  I know that sounds like a lot, but it is a one time cost and over a 5 year period, it is only  $0.35/ work day/ user.  I personally prefer Remote Desktop services for a lot of purposes.  Perhaps you can move more, or all services to Remote Desktop Services, then PCs become simple dumb terminals.  Lower maintenance cost and little if any need to ever upgrade.
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al4629740Author Commented:
There are two things that I will need in the remote desktop which I am unsure of. The user will need to attach documents locally to the application and they will need to be able to print locally from the application.


Is that possible with RDP
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arnoldCommented:
One can attach local resources to an RDP session, not sure about whether similar options (attaching local storage) by which the user having data on their local system would upload/attach it ....
Printers function similarly, but you would need to make sure the system/server has the printer drivers used on the other side.

Printing to PDF, then transferring the file.

Shaun's point you would convert your win32 application, to one that runs on a web server, thus your users can use a web browser to interact with your system.
For attaching, your web has to include a file upload mechanism. Similar to what exists in this forum when you want to add a picture file, you get the browse which lets you search your local data and upload it.
Printing, depending on the local user needs to print, your app has to render/format or allow the user to download that what you want them to print from the web browser screen. The common method, is your app outputs the window/data in pdf format


Vb6 is rather .....

Modernizing to add features, functionality you long hoped for and potentially advancing pergormance, scaling. Once you go to web based, similar resources could serve many more users as compared to specs of a setup if all users connecting via RDP.

Rob's suggestion if 6-8 users, if you have 6-8 local workstations into which these users will remote ...into on a schedule, your licensing 6-8 device X als and server license based on device Cals.....

Virtual desktop, cost .....
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You can attach a local drive, and printers, to an RDP session.  I usually block attaching drives as one of the key benefits of RDP is no data transfers between client and host, unlike a VPN, thus viruses cannot transfer from an unmanaged client to a corporate server.  However it is very easy to enable, just check a box.
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