Smartphones and tablets nowadays boast striking touch displays, surprising power under the hood and a dazzling array of features. So it’s not surprise that Microsoft has decided to give users a way to control their PCs straight from their mobile devices. The Redmond comany has released its Remote Desktop app for Android and iOS devices, which allows you to connect to your Windows PC remotely over the same WiFi network, provided you have enabled remote desktop functionality on your desktop . It’s free and doesn’t require you to install any client agent app on your PC to use it. And the procedure to setup the whole thing? Pretty simple. Let’s find out how it works after the jump.
Both iOS and Android apps use RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) to connect to your computer. To use this feature, you must configure the settings in your Control Panel to allow remote connections. On Windows 7 and Windows 8 / 8.1, go to Control Panel > System and Security > System (or simply Control Panel > System if your Control Panel is set to show all items), and then select ‘Remote settings’ from the left pane as demonstrated in the screenshot below.
The window that appears next is the Remote Desktop section of System Properties. Make sure that you allow remote connections to the computer by clicking the ‘Allow remote connections to this computer’ radio button. By default, Network Level Authentication is turned on, but you can disable it should you face any problem with this option enabled. You can also restrict connections to specific users by clicking the ‘Select Users’ button and specifying custom settings in the proceeding window.
Once you’ve successfully configured the Windows side of things, you can go ahead and launch the Android or iOS app.
When you launch the Remote Desktop client on either of the supported platforms, the first thing you have to do is add a new connection. On Android, tap on the ‘+’ button in the bottom-right corner and in the iOS variant, you’ll find a ‘New Remote Desktop’ option for the same purpose.
Now, select your newly created Remote Desktop connection from the app’s home screen and enter login details (in case you didn’t save them during configuration). Next up, you will see an untrusted certificate prompt, where the connection can be set to ‘Trust Once’ or ‘Trust Always’, depending on preference.
Once that is done, your remote PC’s screen should start streaming to your device. The PC’s display will go blank and the connection will be automatically switched over to your smartphone or tablet. The app displays a bar at the top with the Remote Desktop connection’s name in the middle, a pan button on the left and a button for the keyboard on the right. Tapping the pan button zooms in on the streamed display and allows you to use swipe gestures to move around the screen. The second button displays or hides an onscreen keyboard.
Editor’s Note: Not the most intuitive control scheme. It seems TeamViewer has done a better job in this regard.
Both the iOS and Android versions of Microsoft Remote Desktop are available for free and can be downloaded via the links provided below.