Accessing Interactive Services via RDP on Windows XP / 2003

NOTE: This information is dated and is retained for reference purposes only. Since Windows Vista / Server 2008 interactive services are run on Session 0. Please see our Interactive Services Detection Service / Session 0 guide.

Due to Windows design limitations, interactive services (including FireDaemon Pro ones) are only available on the Console Session. This login session is also known as Session 0, Winsta0 or the Shadow Console.

Windows XP, Server 2003

To access FireDaemon Pro services on Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP machines you have to explicitly connect to the Shadow Console in order to see the UI components of the service. To do this, you would normally connect to the shadow console at a command prompt using the following arguments:

mstsc /v:my-server /console

On Windows Vista SP2 and Windows XP SP3 the /console option is deprecated and has been replaced with the /admin option. Whether this is true or not for your installation will depend on the Terminal Services Client version, Windows Updates and service packs applied.

If you are having trouble accessing the shadow console (i.e. you don't see the interactive components of your service) try the alternate connection method of:

mstsc /v:my-server /admin
To determine what RDP (terminal services) command line options are available to you type the following at a command prompt:
mstsc /?

Lastly, you will not be able to RDP to Session 0 on a Windows XP SP3 box whilst Fast User Switching and the Welcome Screen is active. To disable these go to the Control Panel / User Accounts and look for "Change the way users log on or off". Make sure you uncheck "Use the Welcome screen" and "Use Fast User Switching".

What Session Am I On?

You can use the qwinsta tool to work out which session you have connected to. After you have logged in, at a command prompt type the following command:


You should see output like this if you are on the shadow console (The ID column for the connected session - rdp-tcp#3 - should be 0):

>rdp-tcp#3    jbourne   0     Active      rdpwd
rdp-tcp                 65536  Listen     rdpwd
console                 2      Conn              wdcon

If you are not on the shadow console the output will look like this - note the Active connection is on session (ID) 3:

rdp-tcp                65536 Listen  rdpwd
console                2     Conn          wdcon
>rdp-tcp#5   jbourne   3     Active  rdpwd