UW-Madison Remote Desktop Service - Overview

This document provides an overview of the UW-Madison Remote Desktop Service, which provides employees supplemental access to commonly-used, campus-licensed applications that are only available on the Windows platform.

Information regarding the legacy Windows Access Facility, or WAF, can be found here: WAF - Windows Access Facility (Legacy)

Remote Desktop Service Access

University of Wisconsin-Madison employees should complete the Remote Desktop Service Access Request Form to request access to this service. For requests on behalf of groups of employees, please contact support@doit.wisc.edu.

Connecting to the Remote Desktop Service

Please refer to Remote Desktop Service - Installing and Accessing for step-by-step instructions on connecting to the Remote Desktop Service.

Applications Available

The following applications are available for use:

  • 7-Zip
  • Adobe Acrobat DC
  • Adobe Flash Player
  • Audacity
  • EMS Desktop Client1
  • Google Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
    • Cypress Plugin
  • Microsoft Office 365
    • Access1
    • Excel
    • OneNote
    • Outlook
    • PowerPoint
    • Word
  • Microsoft Project 20161,2
  • Microsoft Project 20131,2
  • Microsoft Visio 20161,2
  • Microsoft Visio 20131,2
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Notepad++
  • Perceptive Content Desktop Client
  • PuTTY
  • QWS3270 Secure
  • SecureCRT
  • SecureFX
  • Treesize
  • WinSCP
  • WiscIT Powered By Cherwell1
1 - Application available to be run independently of a full desktop session
2 - Project and Visio are not licensed under the campus Microsoft site license and require proof of license ownership to access. Contact licensing@doit.wisc.edu and copy support@doit.wisc.edu to request access to Project and/or Visio.

Full Desktop Sessions and RemoteApps

Remote Desktop Service offers two options for running compatible applications:
  • Full Desktop Session - all applications/windows opened in Remote Desktop Service appear within a single virtual desktop separate from the user's local desktop.
  • RemoteApp - certain programs are available to run independently as RemoteApps (indicated in list above). These are still hosted on the Remote Desktop Service but appear as though running directly on the user's desktop with their own taskbar/dock entry like other local applications. These can also be be resized/moved across monitors. 
Remote Desktoop Service Session Selection Menu

It's recommended not to mix RemoteApp and Full Desktop Session usage, as the profile which saves your settings can only be used in one mode at a time.


To ensure a responsive environment for those actively utilizing the service, the following timeouts are enforced:

  • Disconnected user sessions (when a user closes their session but does not explicitly logoff) are automatically ended after 3 hours.
  • Idle sessions (connected sessions without user interaction) are automatically ended after 8 hours.

Maintenance Windows / Planned Outages

The scheduled maintenance windows for Remote Desktop Service are Wednesday 3AM to 5AM and Sunday 5AM to 8AM. Outages planned for any other time will be communicated via remotedesktop-users@g-groups.wisc.edu.

Running Applications As A Different User

NetID accounts must be used to connect to the Remote Desktop Service. In instances where it's necessary to use a privileged account to run a program (e.g. the administrator of a Campus Active Directory OU attempting to open AD Users and Computers), please connect to the service using your standard NetID credentials, then use the Windows "Run as different user" command (Shift + Right Click the application/shortcut) to open the program as your privileged account.

Need Additional Support?

If you need assistance accessing the Remote Desktop Service or have questions beyond the above documentation, please contact the DoIT Help Desk. For help accessing department-specific resources via this service (such as printers, network storage, etc) please refer to documentation supplied by your departmental IT provider.

Keywords:installation windows macintosh unix cost order installing accessing connect connecting access win mac unix install request account infra waf windows access facility virtual environment remote desktop service   Doc ID:836
Owner:Jon D.Group:DoIT Departmental Support
Created:2000-12-19 19:00 CDTUpdated:2020-05-04 17:15 CDT
Sites:DoIT Departmental Support, DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Staff
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