One of the things I’ve wanted to see implemented in Windows Phone is a remote desktop client. This was already possible for the longest time on Android and iOS devices using clients like Teamviewer for Mobile, but it was never really the kind of experience that made it an easy thing to work with, especially if you were logging into an operating system that didn’t really like touch controls. Later iterations of these apps and services made the experience much better and when Windows 8 came around everything became much easier but it was plainly obvious that this was a market that Microsoft had completely missed out on.
Well, thankfully someone in the Windows Phone department finally vetted through a proper remote desktop client for Windows Phone 8.1. This isn’t a half-baked attempt at support, mind you – it’s the real deal, complete with support for gestures in Windows 8 and server 2012. If you’re a Windows admin and don’t want the weight of a tablet or laptop to be carried around with you, you can now do this all on your phone. Hit the jump to find out more.
The application is called Remote Desktop Preview and it’s been made available on the Windows Phone store for free. Its Microsoft’s first RDP client for Windows Phone and gives you a scaled-down desktop and Modern UI overview, complete with the ability to do things like swipe between apps, run commands in command prompt or Powershell, conduct searches and use desktop programs just as you would with a regular touch screen monitor. Unlike applications like Teamviewer for Mobile, this relies solely on Remote Desktop and doesn’t need an awkward translation layer for touch inputs.
There’s also support for RemoteFX, a desktop-like environment in Windows Server 2012 that mostly mimics the functionality and user interface that you get with Windows 8 on the desktop. Microsoft has applied most of the remote desktop functionality into the application and has even put in some features for enterprise users as well. Secure connections are supported and it works with earlier versions of Windows as well.
Did you ever want to use your phone to sign in to a Windows 2000 Server remotely without caring that you may be violating a EULA? Well, now you can!
Full multitasking on the desktop is also supported. If you have a big enough screen, there’s also up to ten points of touch contact in Windows 8 and up. For operating systems like Server 2008, Windows XP or Windows 7, single-touch mode is the only option available and there’s a zoom option as well, allowing you to pan around the full desktop just like you would do on a web browser.
You also have access to advanced settings for secure applications and log-in credentials (maybe one day Nokia will put fingerprint scanners on their devices) and there’s also an overview of your PC inside the Remote Desktop application. This overview is only updated when you’re inside a session, so there’s no chance of it sucking up your data bundle when you’re not logged in to anything.
With this, it’ll be possible one day to lug around something like a Lumia 1520 and, when you need to, hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to do some things while out of the office or away from your network. Bluetooth keyboards and other Human Interface Devices (HID) still aren’t supported in Windows Phone, but that will come later once Microsoft adds this functionality into the software stack.