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Configuring Remote Desktop


Remote Desktop provides access to the desktop of a computer running Windows XP Professional from a computer at another location. For example, connect to your office computer from home and use all your applications, files, and network resources just as if you were actually in your office, using your office computer.

Using Remote Desktop, you can run applications on a remote computer running Windows XP Professional from any other client running a Windows operating system. The applications run on the Windows XP Professional–based remote computer and only the keyboard input, mouse input, and display output data are transmitted over the network from the local computer, as shown in Figure 8-1.

Figure 8-1 How Remote Desktop works

Figure 8-1 How Remote Desktop works

Remote Desktop is based on Terminal Services technology, which is also used for Remote Assistance. For more information on Remote Assistance, see Appendix C, "Tools for Troubleshooting.”

Remote Desktop Components

Remote Desktop consists of the following components, which are discussed in detail in this section:

  • Remote Desktop Protocol

  • Client software

    • Remote Desktop Connection

    • Remote Desktop Web Connection

Remote Desktop Protocol

The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a presentation-layer protocol that allows a Windows-based terminal (WBT) or other Windows-based client to communicate with a Windows XP Professional–based computer. RDP works across any TCP/IP connection, including local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), dial-up, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), digital subscriber line (DSL), or virtual private network (VPN) connections. RDP delivers to the client computer the display and input capabilities for applications running on a Windows XP Professional–based computer.

When using Remote Desktop Protocol from a Windows XP Professional–based client or other RDP 5.1–enabled client, many of the client resources are available within the session, including the client drives, audio sources, serial and parallel ports, and printers. See "Resource Redirection” later in this chapter for details.

In addition, the local and the remote computer share a clipboard, allowing data to be interchanged between applications running on the remote computer and applications running on the client computer. You can find additional information about the commands for using the shared clipboard in the "Using Remote Desktop Web Connection” section later in this chapter.

Client Software

The Windows XP Professional CD includes Remote Desktop Connection client software, which you can install on computers that are not running Windows XP Professional. You can connect using various types of client software based on the client computer’s operating system and your organizational needs. Client software is available for a wide variety of hardware devices, including personal computers and Windows-based terminals.

Remote Desktop Connection

The Remote Desktop Connection tool connects your computer (the client computer) to another computer running Windows XP Professional that has Remote Desktop enabled (the remote computer). These computers can be located anywhere—across the hall, across town, or across an ocean from each other—provided you have network access from the client to the remote computer, and the appropriate permissions at the remote computer. The Remote Desktop Connection tool is installed by default when you install Windows XP Professional or Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. You can also install this tool manually on a computer running Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), Microsoft Windows NT, or Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional operating system.

Tip Always download the latest version of Remote Desktop Connection software when installing on any version of Windows earlier than Windows XP. Go to the Microsoft Download Center ( and search for "Windows XP Remote Desktop Connection software” to find the latest version. To use Remote Desktop to connect to a remote Windows XP computer from an Apple Macintosh computer, search the Microsoft Download Center for "Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac.”

Remote Desktop Web Connection

Remote Desktop Web Connection works like Remote Desktop Connection except that the features are delivered over the Web using Microsoft ActiveX technologies. When embedded in a Web page, the Remote Desktop Web Connection ActiveX control can establish a Remote Desktop session with a remote computer running Windows XP Professional even if Remote Desktop Connection is not installed on the client computer. As described later in this chapter, the Remote Desktop Web Connection ActiveX control must be installed from a Web server with Internet Information Services (IIS) that has Active Server Pages (ASP) enabled.

Remote Desktop Web Connection includes the following features:

  • Efficient deployment of Remote Desktop

    Deploying a connection can be as easy as sending a URL.

  • Support for roaming users

    Users who are away from their computers can use Remote Desktop Web Connection to gain secure access to their primary workstation from any computer running Windows and Internet Explorer, provided you can reach the target computer on a network.

  • A lowest-common-denominator, cross-platform system

    Remote Desktop Web Connection can meet the needs of organizations that have multiple Windows operating systems and want identical client software on all their Windows-based computers.

  • Delivery of extranet applications

    Corporations that want to deploy Remote Desktop functionality to vendors, suppliers, or customers can use Remote Desktop Web Connection to distribute this functionality easily, inexpensively, and efficiently over the Internet.

    Note For the latest version of Remote Desktop Web Connection, go to the Microsoft Download Center ( and search for "Remote Desktop Web Connection.”

Remote Desktop Features

Remote Desktop features include console security, enhanced color support, and resource redirection.

Console Security

Remote Desktop allows the user to connect to a remote console from a client location. Console is defined as the keyboard, mouse, and video monitor of the computer running Windows XP Professional with Remote Desktop enabled. When you enable a Remote Desktop session, the remote console "locks down” (disables display of the session on the remote computer’s monitor, and disables input via the remote computer’s keyboard and mouse).

Enhanced, Flexible Color Support

Remote Desktop supports as many colors as the client computer will support, up to 24-bit color. It automatically detects the color depth of the remote and local computer and adapts as required. Users can modify color settings in the Display Properties sheet.

Resource Redirection

You can use resource redirection features to enhance your Remote Desktop session.

File system redirection

Remote Desktop provides client drive redirection, making the local file system available to the Remote Desktop session. These local drives appear in the remote computer’s  Windows Explorer as driveletter on clientmachinename.

When you enable Remote Desktop, client-drive mapping is enabled by default. To disable it, you can use Terminal Services Group Policies, found at Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services and User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services. To disable it on an individual client computer, click the Start menu, point to All ProgramsAccessoriesCommunications, and then select Remote Desktop Connection. On the Local Resources tab, clear the Disk drives check box.

Audio redirection

Audio redirection enables a client computer to play sounds from any application that plays .wav files on the Remote Desktop. With this feature, a user running an audio-enabled application at the remote desktop can hear the audio output from the local speakers as if the application were running on the client computer.

Audio redirection includes the following features:

  • Audio mixing

    When two or more applications play sounds, the resulting stream is an audio mix.

  • Minimized impact of the audio stream input/output (I/O) on the RDP session

    If there is a change in the network bandwidth between the client and remote computers, Remote Desktop renegotiates the sound-stream quality and uses the best sound quality for the existing bandwidth. No user action is required.

Printer redirection

Remote Desktop provides printer redirection, which routes print jobs from the Remote Desktop session to a printer attached to the client computer. When the user logs on to the remote computer, the remote computer detects the client’s local printer and automatically installs the appropriate printer driver. If the local printer requires a driver that does not ship with Windows XP Professional, you will need to manually install the driver on the remote computer. Remote Desktop also redirects network printers on the client computer.

If multiple printers are connected to the client computer, Remote Desktop will send print jobs to the client printer’s default printer.

The printer redirection feature is enabled by default in Windows XP Professional when you enable Remote Desktop. To disable it, use Terminal Services Group Policies. Use Remote Desktop Connection to disable printer redirection on an individual computer. On the Local Resources tab, clear the Printers check box.

Port redirection

Port redirection lets applications running in the session have access to the serial and parallel ports on the client, allowing them to access and manipulate devices such as bar-code readers or scanners.

Port redirection is enabled when you enable Remote Desktop. To disable it, use Terminal Services Group Policies. To disable port redirection on an individual computer, use Remote Desktop Connection. On the Local Resources tab, clear the Serial ports check box.

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