Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop


I like to write these Computer Corner articles about technology that you can really use. I am on a four day vacation in California. So here I am sitting in the Loews Hollywood Hotel looking out the window at a huge Oscars banner to the left and the Roosevelt hotel to the right. I am borrowing my teenage daughter's MacBook, but I'm actually writing this article on a Windows computer sitting in my office in Sugar Land.

Many of us have used one remote control tool or another. There's "Go To My PC" from the folks at Citrix/Web Meeting. There's LogMeIn which used to be available for free, but now is paid only. There is, also from LogMeIn, TeamViewer, VNC Viewer developed by AT&T and I'm sure a few more, but there is only one that is by far the best, Microsoft Remote Desktop.

Remote Desktop Services used to be called Terminal Services and has been around on the Windows platform for literally decades. I say it's the best not because it is a native Microsoft product, but because I have used them all and it performs better than the rest. It is the only one I have found that runs so smoothly it feels like you are really sitting in front of the computer you are remotely controlling.

You can configure Remote Desktop on any Windows Professional computer from XP to Windows 8, but unfortunately it is not available on the home editions. It is certainly not as easy to configure as some of the others, but this is part of why it is better. When you use a tool like LogMeIn or Go To My PC, there is a middle man. Both the computer being controlled and the computer you do the controlling from have to talk to a central server. When you use Remote Desktop, there is no middle man, but the PC you are controlling requires a little configuration.

Only on remote user can control a Windows PC at a time, but if you have a Windows Server in your office, it can actually be configured to allow many users in at the same time each having their own desktop environment in which to work. We have set this up for many of our customers who have users outside of the office or even in other countries. This allows them to work as if they are sitting on the local network. It is the perfect solution for businesses with several small offices.

As far as the computer you are going to use at your remote location is concerned, it can be almost anything. Any Windows PC including the Home Editions has the Remote Desktop client available. There is also now a free Remote Desktop app from Microsoft in the Google Play Store and in the Apple App Store for any iOS device and for Macs. Of course you can also find Remote Desktop clients for Linux and Google Chrome laptops.

So whether you have access to a Mac, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android phone or just about any device, you can still work Remotely in your Windows system back home with access to all your files and resources there.