Finally! Font Smoothing Over RDP/ICA on Server 2003

It took five years and probably lots of customer complaints, but finally one of the most important technologies introduced with XP/Server 2003 is available over the remoting protocols RDP and ICA: font smoothing aka ClearType. If you have read other articles on this blog you know that I deem font smoothing indispensable on today's LCD monitors. For some reason Microsoft included the technology in Server 2003, but decided not to make it available over RDP. This put Citrix in a difficult position - they could not enable font smoothing over ICA either because some key system component was missing. They had to wait for Microsoft to make the first move. What You Need - KB946633... Now, finally, this has happened. Microsoft released a hotfix that enables font smoothing over RDP by default. If you want to restrict your users to not being able to use font smoothing (maybe because of bandwidth considerations) you can set the following registry value:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\TSEnableFontSmoothing=0

At least service pack 1 is needed in order to install hotfix KB946633 on Windows Server 2003. On the client side you need at least RDC 6.0.

In order for ClearType font smoothing to work it must not only be enabled per computer (see above, TSEnableFontSmoothing), but also in the remote desktop client and the user profile on the terminal server.

...Which You Can Even Get Online...

A while back Microsoft changed its policy with regards to "semi-private" hotfixes. In the past one had to call MS support, talk to them for a few minutes and would then get an e-mail with URLs to password-encrypted hotfix files which had then to be downloaded and unpacked with the current password contained in the e-mail. Sounds tedious? It was! Luckily this changed - a bit. "Semi-private" hotfixes like KB946633 can now be requested online without having to call MS support. Be sure to look out for the text "Hotfix Download Available" near the top of the KB article. But you still get an e-mail with the URL to the password-encrypted hotfix...

...and PSE450R02W2K3037

Just yesterday Citrix released its own hotfix for Presentation Server 4.5 on Windows Server 2003 that enables font smoothing. It needs to be installed on top of MS KB946633. Apart from making font smoothing available it fixes various issues in Presentation Server 4.5 R02 (rollup pack 2).