How to publish the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) enables the IT administrator to remotely manage the (local) domain with tools like “Active Directory Users and Computers”, “DNS” and “Group Policy Management”. You can install RSAT locally on a Windows device, but to use the tools, you still need to be connected to the local network or, if you are working remotely, setup a VPN connection first.

With Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) you can easily publish all the Remote Server Administration Tools. This will give the IT administrator the flexibility to use the tools from any location without the need to setup a VPN connection first. With the Remote Desktop client, the Remote Server Administration Tools even integrate with the local Start Menu on Windows 10 devices.

In this blog I will show you how to publish the most common Remote Server Administration Tools, the most Tools are pretty straight forwards, but some tools needs a workaround to get them working properly.

Step 1 – Install the Remote Server Administration Tools on a Windows 10 Host pool

I have created a Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool specially for IT Administrator in my environment that contains only one VM. If you want deploy multiple VMs with RSAT installed on it, you can consider to install the RSAT in a managed image for easy deployment via the Shared Image Gallery (SIG).

For now, I will install RSAT directly on the VM. Login as Administrator to the Windows 10 (Multi-Session) VM to install RSAT.

Open Settings and click Apps

Click Optional features

Click Add a feature

When you scroll down you can find all the RSATs that can be installed on this VM.

Select the RSAT you want and click Install

After the installation is complete you can find the tools in the Windows Administrative Tools folder.

Step 2 – Create an Application group and publish the Windows Administrative Tools

How that all the Windows Administrative Tools are installed within the Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool, we can publish them. Login to the Microsoft Azure Portal and go to Windows Virtual Desktop.

Open the Application groups blade and click + Add

Select your Subscription and the Resource group you want to use. Next, select the Host pool where the Windows Administration Tools are installed on. Select RemoteApp as Application group type and give this Application group a name (in my case I will give it the name RSAT).

Click Next: Assignments

Select the Azure AD Security group to assign this WVD Application Group and click Next: Applications

Click + Add applications. As Application source, select File path

I have created the list below for the most common Windows Administrative Tools with the information on how to publish them.

Active Directory Administrative Center

Application path : C:\windows\system32\dsac.exe
Application name : Active Directory Administrative Center
Icon path : C:\windows\system32\dsacn.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : No

Active Directory Domains and Trusts

Application path : c:\windows\system32\domain.msc
Application name : Active Directory Domains and Trusts
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\domadmin.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : No

Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell

Application path : c:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
Application name : Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
Icon index : 0
Required command line : Yes
Command Line : -noexit -command import-module ActiveDirectory

Active Directory Sites and Services

Application path : c:\windows\system32\dssite.msc
Application name : Active Directory Sites and Services
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\dsadmin.dll
Icon index : 2
Required command line : No

Active Directory Users and Computers

Application path : c:\windows\system32\dsa.msc
Application name : Active Directory Users and Computers
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\dsadmin.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : No

ADSI Edit

Application path : c:\windows\system32\adsiedit.msc
Application name : ADSI Edit
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\adsiedit.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : No

DHCP

Application path : c:\windows\system32\dhcpmgmt.msc
Application name : DHCP
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\dhcpsnap.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : No

DNS

Application path : c:\windows\system32\mmc.exe
Application name : DNS
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\dnsmgr.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : Yes
Command Line : c:\windows\system32\dnsmgmt.msc

The Group Policy Management application is a little different. I had some challenges publishing this application. First it shows an elevation prompt, secondly it was only displaying the MMC console, even the parameters were configured. I tried a VBS script (that worked), but then you have to put that script on the server (or your image) with which you are not flexible. So I tried it with a command line without a script and without a DOS box / dialog that was displayed in the background. With the following settings I got this one working:

Group Policy Management

Application path : c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe
Application name : Group Policy Management
Icon path : c:\windows\system32\gpoadmin.dll
Icon index : 0
Required command line : Yes
Command Line : /c start “” “c:\windows\system32\mmc.exe” c:\windows\system32\gpmc.msc

After you have added all the applications, click Next: Workspace

Select Yes to register this Application Group to a Workspace, select the Workspace and click Review + create

Click Create

Now when you refresh your Remote Desktop client you will see the new RSAT applications appear.

7 comments

  • Hi Robin,
    first of all thanks for all your article, they saved my life more than once 🙂
    Regarding the GPMC snap-in I configured it like this and it worked like a charm
    Application Path : c:\windows\system32\mmc.exe
    Icon : c:\windows\system32\gpoadmin.dll
    Command : c:\windows\system32\gpmc.msc
    I still don’t get what the Icon Index stands for…

    Thanks again,
    Lorenzo

  • I tried following your guide. It does not load the icons. I even tried extracting the icons to ico files and put them on the WVD machine and referenced these icons, but with no effect. It’s weird because it loads icons for DNS, Group Policy Management, Edge, PowerShell ISE, but not for any Active Directory or ADSI or DHCP. Have you experienced this before? Any tricks I could try? Thank you.

      • I had a look at the icons that worked and those that didn’t. Those that worked were all placed beneath c:\windows\… or c:\program files\…

        Also they were directly from the exe file or similar.

        So I can’t get dll files to work, but extracting the icons by opening the dll files with 7zip allowed me to get them individually and then it did not work if I placed them on c:\wvdfiles\ i had to put them in c:\windows\ with names like adusersandcomputers.ico. Then I could reference them and everything worked. I don’t get why this was happened though. So now I made a Microsoft case to ask.

        • Hi Casper, that is indeed a good workaround. However, it should work in the first place without any problems. (I’m not facing this problem). I hope Microsoft will point you to the cause of this problem with your case.

About Robin Hobo

I work as a Senior Solution Architect with focus on the Modern Workspace. I am specialized in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), Windows 365 and Microsoft EM+S (including Microsoft Endpoint Manager - Microsoft Intune).

For my full bio, check the About Me page.

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