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Spotlight On: Microsoft Remote Desktop

Remote desktop access is a seriously handy tool to have – for just about anybody! It means users the ability to log in remotely to a machine and use a separate device to control the machine from anywhere with an internet connection. Real life applications abound!

For instance:

  • You are out for coffee and want to log into your laptop to check on a spreadsheet you accidentally saved to your desktop instead of cloud storage
  • You’re in an out of office work meeting and realise you need to access an app that only exists on your desktop at work
  • You forgot to bring your laptop and have an urgent task to do on it
  • You need to access other resources that are specific to your work computer, but you’re not at your desk and only have your phone or personal laptop handy

In recent weeks we’ve taken a look at Microsoft To-Do and Microsoft Office Lens, today we have a look at another Microsoft app you may not have heard of or be currently using: Microsoft Remote Desktop.

What is Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop is Microsoft’s apps that allow you to easily do remote desktopping. In the past, you’d have to use some computer wizardry to achieve this, but now this task is fairly straightforward with the Microsoft suite of apps.

How much is Microsoft Remote Desktop?

It’s free across all devices. Anyone can use it, whether you’re an O365 customer or not.

How does Microsoft Remote Desktop work?

To get started with the app, you’ll need to download and install the Remote Desktop Assistant application on the Windows PC that you are planning to remotely access. Start up the Remote Desktop Assistant on your machine.

You can then connect to the machine from pretty much any device.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll use an Android phone to connect to the computer. We can download the Microsoft Remote Desktop app from the Google Play store.

On the Windows PC, we choose to scan the QR code with our Android phone to get the machine’s details, although there are other options to connect, too.

Clicking the link that comes up from the QR code will bring up the Remote Desktop app on the phone, which will then ask for your login details (i.e. password) from the computer.

Once this happens, you are logged in remotely to your computer, and can do any tasks that need doing while you’re away from your desktop. 

Within an organisation, administrators will need to set up Microsoft Remote Desktop to allow employees to use this particular app. This is necessary for security reasons, so that not just anyone in the company can log in remotely whenever they want.

Is Microsoft Remote Desktop right for me or my organisation?

Microsoft Remote Desktop is a super handy feature for pretty much everyone. Sure, you might not use the feature very often, but there are certain occasions when it is very useful. 

The only issue with remote desktopping is that the machine you want to access needs to be switched on to access – if it’s not on, then you won’t be able to access it. You’ll also need to set it all up. If the machine is a fixed connection on the same network at all times (e.g. an office desktop that uses a wired ethernet connection) then this is easy, however if it’s a laptop that you move around and connect and disconnect at all times, then it makes things a little more difficult. You need to set up the Remote Desktop Connection each time in this case.

The other issue with remote desktopping is that doing computer activities on a phone with a small screen can be tricky to navigate. It’s made much easier with a tablet or even a laptop, where there is enough screen real estate to work things quickly.

Need a second opinion?

If you are interested in setting up remote desktopping for your organisation, then it makes sense to do it safely and securely. By all means, give it a go on your personal devices for evaluation. But if you decide it’s a good idea, then you should carefully go through the administration and setup needed to manage remote desktopping securely.

We can help with that part, or help evaluate other solutions that may be more effective for your organisation, such as a Sharepoint site for your organisation that’s available natively on mobile and desktop and contains all necessary work resources.

Get in contact with us to learn more about how you can do business anywhere, on any device, with ease and confidence. There is a huge range of options and we’ll help you to pick the right one for your needs. A1 Technologies is here to help!

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