Q:How can I manage Windows Server 2012 from a Windows 7 client?

A: The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for the management of Windows Server 2012 are available only for Windows 8, which means they can't be installed on a Windows 7 desktop. Still, this doesn't mean you can't use Windows 7 or even Windows XP as the desktop OS.

Since Windows Server 2008, Remote Desktop Services has included the ability to publish applications. This means an application can run in a session on a server OS and ONLY the application window shows on the user's desktop, completely integrated with other local applications so it appears as if the application is running locally and can be displayed in the local Start menu, etc.

You can extend this capability to management applications--and thus you can enable the publishing of Windows Server 2012 administration tools to Windows 7. The process is actually quite simple and offers a great end-user experience. Here's what you do:

  1. Install Remote Desktop Services in session virtualization mode on a server using the Server Manager Quick Start mode.
  2. Install the administration tools on the server you want to publish to users--use the Add Roles and Features wizard and enable it through the Remote Server Administration Tools feature options.
  3. Add the server administration tools to the list of published applications on the session host by using Server Manager in the Remote Desktop Services - Collections - and use the Publish RemoteApp Programs task.
  4. Users access via the RDWeb site the administration programs or subscribe to published applications via the RemoteApp and Desktop connections control panel applet using the feed URL (e.g., https://savdalrds01.savilltech.net/RDWeb/Feed/webfeed.aspx).

I've recorded the whole process in the video below, "Manage Windows Server 2012 with Windows 7," also viewable at the Windows IT Pro YouTube site.

servermanageronwin7sml
Server Manager "Running" on Windows 7

You can see Server Manager "running" on Windows 7 in the screen shot above.To learn more about Server Manager, you might want to also check out "New Features in Windows Server Manager 2012."